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Old 30-08-2010, 14:15   #1
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Salvage Lein

This may be the wrong place to post this, I'm not sure.
I have a salvage lein on a 34' hunter that we raised after being sunk by the owner for the insurance pay out.
This is a great little boat, but the lein is more than the boat is worth. This happened in Tennessee. I dont really know what my rights are (or the owners rights either ) What is the law concerning salvage rights?
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Old 30-08-2010, 14:19   #2
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Admiralty law and salvage rights are two things I hope to evade in my nautical career.
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Old 30-08-2010, 14:22   #3
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Need to ck with the state.marc
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Old 30-08-2010, 14:53   #4
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Three choices:
1-Send the title holder (the insurer) a bill and see how they reply.
2-Go to a local law school, go to their library, ask a librarian for help.
3-Drop a couple of bucks with a local lawyer. There might be one admiralty lawyer in Tennessee...I've seen pigs with wings.<G>
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Old 30-08-2010, 15:33   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
Three choices:
1-Send the title holder (the insurer) a bill and see how they reply.
2-Go to a local law school, go to their library, ask a librarian for help.
3-Drop a couple of bucks with a local lawyer. There might be one admiralty lawyer in Tennessee...I've seen pigs with wings.<G>

The story is a little more complex that the first post indicated.
The insurance did pay the salvage fee. But they paid it to the owner. The owner of the boat then sold the boat to a third person. Then the first owner skipped town with all the money. He didnt pay the salvage crew.
SO I bought the lein for a few cents on the dollar.

But wait, it gets better.

The guy that bought the boat after we raised it, took 9 sails and other stuff out of the boat befor we moved it to a safe, undisclosed location.

It he dosent pay the lein, do I have a right to get the sails back?
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Old 30-08-2010, 16:20   #6
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Oh dear, why do I get the feeling this is going to get really messy.

I would start with a lawyer for a short consultation and look at the costs because it won't be cheap.

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Old 30-08-2010, 16:46   #7
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"SO I bought the lein for a few cents on the dollar. "
And you thought they sold it cheap just because they were drunk at the time? <VBG>

"Send lawyers guns and money!" [Warren Zevon]

In your case, that's still three choices.<G>
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Old 30-08-2010, 16:51   #8
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Quote:
What is the law concerning salvage rights?
Internet legal advice really isn't worth what you paid for it. So lets be clear up front. I'll assume it won't cost you one dime. For a sunk 34 Hunter I would say if you salvaged it you are the one with the problem. It's going to cost you money to salvage yourself.

You may be well within your rights to claim salvage 100% value, but the insurance company could easily say - it's all yours! You have no right to collect money but you could own the boat free and clear under the most optimistic case. I'm talking best of all possible outcomes (not mine). I have no idea what that would cost to get there or you might lose. Lets just say you win at every turn. So you own a boat and now you need to fight for title. The end of it being you own a sunk Hunter 34. It's a big job refitting it.

My own opinion is you are not in the drivers seat on this deal. I doubt the insurance company cares if they can't take back the boat and sell it for a net gain there is no reason on earth they would buy it back from you. Handing over the title could be the cheaper route for them. They already paid the insurance claim. Show them how they can win! You may be able to collect the difference less your legal fees under the best case scenario. That assumes they feel their time is worth the extra effort. They value their time more than you so it could be a bump for you.

Once the boat sunk you lost all the advantages you could have collected if you had saved it from sinking. Salvage right is to encourage extra ordinary and heroic efforts done by brave salvage crews. Gotta love those guys! Sorry, nothing brave about a sunk boat. You just saved the insurance company money since they would have had to pay for disposal but you did it for free. You could get a thank you letter with a title enclosed. Write a letter and ask for title and I bet you get it.

I really don't think you need legal advice because I can't see where you win any serious money. See if you can collect disposal fees.
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Old 31-08-2010, 08:38   #9
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I would like to keep the boat. It was underwater for a few days, but everything, including the CD player still works. I plan (my plans seldom work out) is to sit on it for a few months and if he dosent claim it and pay the salvage fee ; go from there.
All it needs is cleaned up, and an engine.
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Old 31-08-2010, 08:59   #10
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You need a lawyer. I may be reading this incorrectly.

- You bought a lien from someone who properly had a claim for payment and correctly executed the lien - If this is true you hold a lien that travels around with the boat title. The only thing you can do is engage a lawyer to try and collect the lien from the properly registered legal owner.

- There was an insurance company involved. They apparently paid out the insurance to the correct policy holder for the boat and for the salvage costs. At this point the insurance company has no further interest in the boat. The title to the boat apparently stayed with the original owner.

- The first owner sold the boat to a third party. The third party acquired the boat with a standing lien on it. The lien (if legal and properly executed) stands, the sale stands and the remedy for the new owner is to try and collect or sue the seller if he misrepresented the deal. It is not illegal to acquire a boat with a lien but your state law may require boat registration and may require the lien to be cleared first if they know about the lien.

State laws are different, I am not a lawyer, YMMV.

In my mind you are on shaky ground by holding the boat. You get to hold the lien and you get to go to court to collect. You get to register the lien (depending on state rules) with the state to bloke registration or titling. I am pretty positive you don't get to seize the property.

I would contact the new (3rd party owner) and make a deal to sell him the lien. Or make a deal to buy the boat from him.
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Old 31-08-2010, 09:04   #11
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Don, knock knock knock----- Don? Are you listening? There is a hunter here!
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Old 31-08-2010, 09:14   #12
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Don, knock knock knock----- Don? Are you listening? There is a hunter here!
Is that aimed at me? My sarcasm detector may be on the fritz as I don't know what you mean. Also my name is Dan not Don further adding to my confusion

I am also confused by

"He did not pay the salvage crew"
"We raised the boat"
"I bought the lien"

He? - is the first owner - who ran away with the money apparently

We? - is OP & part of a salvage company, salvage crew, interested individual who helped raise the boat?

I? - The OP. But I still don't know in what legal capacity he is represented in this story.

Based on the tone of the message I would (totally and completely guess) - OP works for the salvage company (we raised the boat). OP bought the lien from the salvage company he works for (I bought the lien)

Certainly interested to see what happens in Act 3
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Old 31-08-2010, 09:22   #13
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Wow...I agree with Paul. Matt you should rethink, lest you get what you ask for. Move on and be glad it's not your boat to deal with. Just my opinion of course.
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Old 31-08-2010, 09:32   #14
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I do not know Tenn law, but in Florida Waters there are no "salvage rights". Admiralty laws generally only apply outside COLREGS, and many times only out of state waters as well.

IF the salvor had a valid salvage contract with the owner, then the salvor has a right to a mechanics lien if the agreed payment was not paid. IF the salvor took it upon himself to salvage the vessel WITHOUT a contract from the rightful owner... either written or verbal, HE HAS NO CLAIM TO THE VESSEL.

IF a properly executed contract for salvage existed, AND the owner of the vessel failed to perform, AND the salvor properly filed a mechanic's lien with the authority having jurisdiction, that lien may be sold to a third party.

The above notwithstanding, the owner of a properly executed lien can apply to gain title to a vessel regardless of current ownership (insurance co or original owner). BUT, if there was no salvage contract, the lien is unenforceable.
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Old 31-08-2010, 09:53   #15
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Thanks for the input. I think I now have the situation under control thanks again.
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