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Old 07-10-2015, 15:57   #16
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Re: Salvage Rights

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Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
Ran into this question when I was taking technical diving class. The instructor required all students to sign a waiver making the instructor exempt from any liabilities due to injuries to the student even in the case of gross negligence by the instructor.

So before signing I asked my father who is a lawyer who assured me that in general, no person or company can be absolved of responsibility for damages due to their negligence no matter what they make the customer sign.
In the USA at least, a liability waiver wont cover your ass for criminal negligence....and neither will your insurance company.
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Old 07-10-2015, 16:17   #17
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Re: Salvage Rights

The vessel is,was,and will be your property. The salvage company has to file a claim to be determined by the court. They have no right to arrest your vessel in rem, and must return it to you.It's your property. I salvaged the four million dollar Belcher 33 during tropical storm Elena in Freeport, Tx. There is no such thing as finders keepers. Call the cops and look for an admiralty lawyer. The salvage co.stole your boat and only have a claim. Go to the Miami Library and get some books on salvage law. Good luck.My attorney was Arthur Roth, president of the Admiralty Lawyers Association in Miami. BTW, I won.
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Old 07-10-2015, 16:18   #18
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Re: Salvage Rights

Seems a little bit fishy that the salvage company was able to get to your boat before the marina could even though they "acted extremely proactively". Now I'm not suggesting a salvage company would untie a mooring ball but you never know... If salvagers are anything like tow truck companies I would pay the fee now before the fee is more than the boats value (storage fees I'm sure) and then fight it out. Of course call the cops first and then talk to a marine attorney for an hour. Just my opinion.
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Old 07-10-2015, 16:20   #19
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Re: Salvage Rights

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Originally Posted by jreiter190 View Post
The vessel is,was,and will be your property. The salvage company has to file a claim to be determined by the court. They have no right to arrest your vessel in rem, and must return it to you.It's your property. I salvaged the four million dollar Jeanette Belcher during tropical storm Elena in Freeport, Tx. There is no such thing as finders keepers. Call the cops and look for an admiralty lawyer. The salvage co.stole your boat and only have a claim. Go to the Miami Library and get some books on salvage law. Good luck.My attorney was Arthur Roth, president of the Admiralty Lawyers Association in Miami. BTW, I won.
This is great advice. Nice commentary.
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Old 07-10-2015, 16:37   #20
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Re: Salvage Rights

Most tug and salvage companies are honest and just charging rates based on their cost of operation. Some opportunists have come with the Coast Guard handing off much of the towing effort. I believe they are required to pass it on when a commercial operation is available.
However, a few years ago in the Pacific NW, Foss Tug did me a favor and didn't charge a dime.
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Old 07-10-2015, 16:40   #21
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Re: Salvage Rights

Full disclosure : I was AB on the Jeanette Belcher. I salvaged the chemical barge Belcher 33. I've only been up in a helicopter once. I have never landed in one. There are nine points of salvage law entitling a crewmember to salvage rights. You need only to satisfy one. I satisfied all nine.
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Old 07-10-2015, 16:47   #22
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Re: Salvage Rights

Doesn't change the fact that a wreck that has been lying on the bottom of the sea for a hundred years is still the property of the owners and their heirs unless an insurance claim was paid, then, it is the property of the insurance company who can sell the salvage rights.
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Old 07-10-2015, 19:39   #23
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Re: Salvage Rights

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Originally Posted by jreiter190 View Post
The vessel is,was,and will be your property. The salvage company has to file a claim to be determined by the court. They have no right to arrest your vessel in rem, and must return it to you.It's your property. I salvaged the four million dollar Belcher 33 during tropical storm Elena in Freeport, Tx. There is no such thing as finders keepers. Call the cops and look for an admiralty lawyer. The salvage co.stole your boat and only have a claim. Go to the Miami Library and get some books on salvage law. Good luck.My attorney was Arthur Roth, president of the Admiralty Lawyers Association in Miami. BTW, I won.
I can't speak to what happened in your case, but your analysis of the law is wrong. A salvagor in of the vessel is allowed to arrest it temporarily while making arrangements with the owner to place a security bond to cover the salvage claim, or in the event no bond is expected must act quickly to turn over the vessel to the US Marshalls to be held until the salvage claim is litigated. Note that the salvage companies posession of the vessel isn't complete, in that they absolutely can chain it to the dock, but they have to allow you access to the vessel to preserve it.

In much more detail...quoting Marine Salvage & Recreational Boaters: Modern Concepts & Misconceptions - Popular Salvage "Myths & M

With regard to the salvor's right to retain possession of the vessel, the answer is less clear. The salvor who has earned the right to a salvage award through successful, voluntary salvage services to a vessel in peril has a high-priority possessory, preferred maritime lien on the vessel. A salvor in possession of a vessel is not bound to surrender it on demand to the owner until reasonable security has been provided for his claim. On the other hand, the salvor must move with all deliberate speed to either arrange for the posting of security or bring an action in rem against the vessel to foreclose his lien. However, it is improper for the salvor to deny the owner or his agents access to his vessel or property to inspect or preserve it. Thus, the general rule is that the salvor may retain possession of a vessel until either the owner posts adequate security or it is established that he will not. The salvor must, in the former case, release the vessel to the owner or, in the latter case, turn the vessel over to the U.S. Marshal and proceed to foreclose his lien.
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Old 08-10-2015, 04:57   #24
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Re: Salvage Rights

Greg Rubin,I was wondering when you would get out your legal books and dig into the actual statute coverage of the situation. Thanks. My analysis wasn't so much "wrong ",as incomplete. But then, I'm not an attorney with a law library, just a person who filed a salvage claim after risking his life and won. You, yourself, said they must give him access, turn the vessel into the hands of the US marshall, ete., etc.. and can't simply hold it for ransom. Thanks for the clarification, Counselor.
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Old 08-10-2015, 06:13   #25
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Re: Salvage Rights

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Originally Posted by jreiter190 View Post
Full disclosure : I was AB on the Jeanette Belcher. I salvaged the chemical barge Belcher 33. I've only been up in a helicopter once. I have never landed in one. There are nine points of salvage law entitling a crewmember to salvage rights. You need only to satisfy one. I satisfied all nine.
[Apologies for thread drift . . .] I would love to hear the entirety of this story. Please tell, here or anywhere.
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Old 08-10-2015, 06:33   #26
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Re: Salvage Rights

So at this point, no evidence has been presented that it wasn't a legitimate salvage. Until that changes we will proceed on that assumption.

I would force the insurance company to provide an OFFICIAL recommendation for how to proceed in writing. If it's a legitimate salvage, taking it to the police is a frivolous waste of thier time. Your big issue is with the insurance company at this point. They are the ones playing games.

It appears the salvage company presented an offer for the salvage costs for the owner to pay.
- If reasonable, everyone can save court and lawyer fees by just paying it. At that point, I would expect them to release the boat. Of course, the insurance company must agree if you want them to pay.
- If not reasonable, you can always make a counter offer. If accepted, I would expect them to release the boat. Again, if the insurance company is to pay, they must be in on the agreement.
- If neither of those options works, your next step is to demand they officially file a salvage claim or release the boat. At that point, they will likely require a bond to be posted so you don't just take off in the boat never to follow up.

You never say what the time frames are or how much they are asking for. If it's a couple thousand and it happened a week ago, I see nothing nefarious about the story and probably best to push your insurance company to pay and move on.

If it's 6months ago and they are asking for $50k on the $30k boat, you are likely to get a favorable court ruling if the salvage company hasn't bothered to file yet.
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Old 08-10-2015, 07:39   #27
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Re: Salvage Rights

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Originally Posted by Cormorant View Post
[Apologies for thread drift . . .] I would love to hear the entirety of this story. Please tell, here or anywhere.
Happy to oblige, Cormorant. Email me jreiter190@gmail.com and I'll send you my cell number. It's a long story, mate.
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Old 08-10-2015, 07:40   #28
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Re: Salvage Rights

This is pretty easy . . . you need to talk to the claims department (not your agent, who is really just a sales guy) of your insurance company, and they need to handle it.

This sort of thing is 100% negotiable, and the insurance claims guys should be good negotiators.

That is all assuming your insurance policy covers the situation . . which, again, the claims guys should confirm immediately.

If your policy does not cover it . . the you have a choice . . hire your own maritime lawyer, or negotiate with the salvage company yourself. The decision would likely depend on how much the salvors are asking and how knowledgeable you are (it sounds like not very much on the second).

You should also just do a quick (internet) check that the salvage company is an established reputable outfit. If they are NOT then talking to the police would be worthwhile, if they are then that would be a waste of everyone's time.
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Old 08-10-2015, 09:09   #29
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Re: Salvage Rights

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Howdy Jose,

I am not a lawyer. I am interested in how your case developed and ends. Please let us know the final outcome.

Also, I have a few questions I hope you won't mind answering. These are not judgemental questions, I am simply curious about what happened.

1. When your boat got loose, was it beached? Or was it just floating free in a mooring field? Or was it floating away from boats and channels ("not an immediate threat to other boats")? Was it in contact with other boats in the mooring field? Did it causes any damage to other boats? Was it damaged by grounding?

2. You mentioned the salvage company expects to be paid a fee. What amount are they asking/demanding/expecting?

3. Was the boat "loose" due to the passage of Hurricane Joaquin?

Thank you for any answers.
So, let's see!

1.Not beached, floating around. Mooring field manager says NOT in the mooring field, while the salvage company says 10 ft from hitting another boat in the field(what a heroic story!) No damage to other boats, no observable damage due to grounding either.

2. fee they are asking is $300/ft.... not cheap!

3. This was prior to Joaquin, so you can understand my frustration with the time.

Thank you all for the free advice, it is helping me think of this problem in a holistic manner and learn a lot! Hopefully it ends soon and i can get back to sailing!
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Old 08-10-2015, 10:09   #30
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Re: Salvage Rights

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So, let's see!

1.Not beached, floating around. Mooring field manager says NOT in the mooring field, while the salvage company says 10 ft from hitting another boat in the field(what a heroic story!) No damage to other boats, no observable damage due to grounding either.

May or may not be true but sounds like they are establishing the value of the salvage (ie: they avoided lots of damage to your and other boats). Not neccessarily nefarious but smart negotiating on their part. The big issue is did the mooring field manager really see the whole thing or are there other witnesses.

2. fee they are asking is $300/ft.... not cheap!

Assuming a 35' boat, that's about $10k. If they avoided the boat doing $20k in damage to another boat it was about to hit, it's a bargain or it's just starting with a high number to negotiate down from.

3. This was prior to Joaquin, so you can understand my frustration with the time.

Of course that likely buys them a little time with the courts if they can claim things have been crazy. The court is likely to cut them a little slack on getting the paperwork filed.

Thank you all for the free advice, it is helping me think of this problem in a holistic manner and learn a lot! Hopefully it ends soon and i can get back to sailing!
If it were me I would focus on two issues:
- Push the insurance company to take the lead and give firm direction on what you need to do.
- Verify who actually saw what and make sure they actually witnessed it.

My guess is they will take a fraction of the original estimate and they are legitimately entitled to some salvage fee but you can't negotiate until you get the insurance companies backing.
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