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Old 02-10-2012, 12:37   #1
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Boat Held Hostage By Marine Transport Company

I will not use the name of the boat transport company.

In August, I began calling marine transport companies requesting bids to move my 34 foot full keel sailboat from the east coast to the west coast. I provided each with a picture and specifications on the boat, listing the weight as 19,300 pounds. The Sailboatdata website listed her weight as 18,000 pounds. A sister ship owner stated on a cruise news forum that “She weight 19,500 pounds with a summer’s stores onboard and full tanks”.

Many bids came in around $10,000 although there were several in the $6900 to $7500 range. I chose the $7500 bid because the mover was included in a list of recommend movers on a large west coast boatyard website.

Contract particulars: All inclusive, 50% up front, 50% upon delivery, anticipated transport time 5 days, delivery date September 4th.

There were delays in getting started, one being the mover had to take the boat to a travel lift 250 miles from the pick up point to have boat repositioned on the trailer.

Finally the boat was moving. Getting text messages. "No problems" "Progressing nicely" "Will shut down in El Paso for the weekend. Get back on the road on Monday". Received a call Monday morning that during a routine oil change, they found a crack in the transmission housing and a new transmission needed to be installed. **** happens. Long delay. I wished him well on the repair. It was completely covered by warranty, which surprised me since the truck is in commercial use.

The day before the truck was picked up from the dealer service center in El Paso I receive an email stating that I had misrepresented the weight of the boat and it was eating his trailer alive. I now owe him compensation for 6 new tires, 6 new rims, complete bearing replacement on all wheels, and motel costs at $115 per night. The email stated that the travel lift he used to reset the boat had a calibrated load cell indicating the boat to weighed 30% more than I had stated. As I mentioned before, this was 250 miles into the trip.

If true, the mover began a 3000 mile trip across the country knowing the indicated load cell weight and the capacity of his rig. Therefore, my viewpoint is I am not responsible for his trailer failures, if there were failures. I received only glowing reports from the road.

Here's the kicker. He will not tell me where the boat is located. I requested this by email 3 times. He will only say it is in a secure yard with video cameras.

He will not "move the boat one more mile closer to San Franciso" until I agree to pay him $3875 in repairs plus the $3750 second half payment. As I view it, my boat is being held for ransom.

Here's where I need help. How do I find my boat? Since this is interstate commerce, should I contact the FBI? I know that trucking is regulated and licensed. Should I contact some enforcement in this area? Is this cause to lose your right to transport? State Highway Patrols? The transporter's Insurance Company? Is this a felony?

Before I start paying lawyers the big bucks, thought I would put the question to this wonderful forum.

Thanks...Bob
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Old 02-10-2012, 13:02   #2
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Re: BOAT HELD HOSTAGE BY MARINE TRANSPORT COMPANY

I would call the State Police in the state. If you know it is in El Paso, I would call the county sheriff. You should report your property as stolen and file a police report.
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Old 02-10-2012, 13:03   #3
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Re: BOAT HELD HOSTAGE BY MARINE TRANSPORT COMPANY

He is the one who will need a lawyer
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Old 02-10-2012, 13:04   #4
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Re: BOAT HELD HOSTAGE BY MARINE TRANSPORT COMPANY

For starters, how about getting in touch with the company that lifted it 250 miles into the trip. Wouldn't they have the weight on record?

Easiest solution might just be to tell him you'll give him $1000 towards his repairs on delivery if the boat is over weight - have it weighed when its lifted. Let him know if he won't accept that, then your lawyer will be in touch with him. You could also let him know you'll be contacting the authorities as he is in breach of contract and at this point has stolen your boat? Not sure how that would work, but if you have a contract it seems he likely is in breach?
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Old 02-10-2012, 13:15   #5
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Re: BOAT HELD HOSTAGE BY MARINE TRANSPORT COMPANY

the boat theft thing probably won't fly.check the u.c.c. (uniform commercial code) you'd do well to follow the advice above and try to negociate your way out.court costs and attorney fees will eat you alive.but i could be wrong.
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Old 02-10-2012, 13:27   #6
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Re: BOAT HELD HOSTAGE BY MARINE TRANSPORT COMPANY

One more point, he would have had to cross a scale and weigh station somewhere on his route. I would contact his dispatch and ask for his scale locations. His story isnt adding up, and he has to assume the responsibility
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Old 02-10-2012, 13:34   #7
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Re: BOAT HELD HOSTAGE BY MARINE TRANSPORT COMPANY

I just shipped my boat. Do you have a contract with him? Also what is his DOT #, contact them and his insurance co. You can file a complaint with the DOT.
Why not use his name. He deserves his just credit. About the weight, what does the manufacturer spec say?

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Old 02-10-2012, 13:46   #8
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Re: BOAT HELD HOSTAGE BY MARINE TRANSPORT COMPANY

He didnt steal the boat ...he was given the boat to deliver...He has you over a barrel and the only way you can get your money back for the "extra" charge is to sue him in court,until then he will win and court will cost you more money,but you might win if he accepted the load as it was and then drove some miles after knowing the weight..court sucks for all concerned..good luck..
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Old 02-10-2012, 13:51   #9
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Re: BOAT HELD HOSTAGE BY MARINE TRANSPORT COMPANY

If you give someone something to deliver though and they don't deliver it and hold it ransom, I would think that could be construed as stealing. And threatening to contact the authorities might work - it all depends on how well he knows the law.

No one wins if you go to court, and he likely knows that which is why settling for a lesser amount and threatening court or law enforcement getting involved would help.

I think the other options mentioned as well such as his company (if he's part of a company) or the DOT would help too. Filing a complaint with the BBB never hurts either.
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Old 02-10-2012, 13:53   #10
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Re: BOAT HELD HOSTAGE BY MARINE TRANSPORT COMPANY

- Get a lawyer (at least so you say you have a lawyer)
- Start a log (of every action taken / incident)
- Capture as many names as addresses as possible (not everything stays on the internet forever).
- Check your own insurances (including household) to see if you have any legal disputes cover (possibly not so common in the US - but having $100k "free" for lawyers does concentrate minds ).
- Maybe even work out the likely route (given his previous progress reports) and whilst he may be lying that the boat is somewhere secure (no claim for the cost of that!) can't be a squillion places that the boat is located.
- If you have any debt on the boat then contact your lender - they may well be very interested in someone taking "their" asset (and likely have experiance of folks doing just that!).
- Contact the insurance company for the load (and also for the boat).

- Formally contact the Transport Company in writing (you or lawyer) - especially to find out if they sub contracted the job to someone not directly employed by them. Even if the load was insured seperately, ask for the name and contact details of there insurance company.....the more people you can sue for loss of boat - or more likely any damage when recovered the better.

The good news is that he is relying on the "possession is 9/10ths of the law" angle - which though annoying is IMO nonetheless encouraging that he has doubts over the strength of his claim. Even if the trailor was overloaded I think a good argument that not your problem.....but don't get into specifics on that angle, just in case . The other good news is that whilst the dispute runs on he is getting out of pocket (expenses and lost work), and even if it turns out his case is valid he will be having doubts, plus sooner or later cashflow problems (likely solved by offloading the boat somewhere).

The trick will be getting the boat back (and undamaged!) - I would suggest that he deliver the boat as agreed and for which the 2nd payment would be made.......and afterwards you and him would argue it out in court - but sweeten the deal by making clear that you have no problem paying if you have to (but also make clear you don't beleive you do!, and even if so it will be an insurance company thing for you). none of that has to be strictly true ......but got to bait the hook with something!....and "free" money from an insurance company as good as any.

In the interim speak to a lawyer and get your ducks (and paperwork) lined up in a row so if you do need to go legal and hard ball you can do........I am sure loads held "hostage" is not exactly new legal territory! (and he will probably have a better working knowledge of the legal side than you - at the moment anyway).

Obviously I am not a lawyer! I am not even in the US!. Just that I have found that with disputes there is a mix of the practicality and the legal. Step 1 is to look serious by being organised, persistent and rational (no matter how angry you are) - as it says you are neither going away, are not a clueless idiot nor are willing to be pushed around.

Good luck - and let us all know how it goes.
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Old 02-10-2012, 13:54   #11
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Re: BOAT HELD HOSTAGE BY MARINE TRANSPORT COMPANY

Interstate household moving companies in the US are notorious for this and yes, they can do it. You need to try to negotiate with him, get your boat and then sue him for damages. I wouldn't post the name of the company until you have posession of your boat then I'd be sure tolet everyone know....
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Old 02-10-2012, 13:57   #12
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Re: BOAT HELD HOSTAGE BY MARINE TRANSPORT COMPANY

Reporting the boat stolen will not work... Since you entered into a contract with him, law enforcement will tell you to go to civil court and sue him.

The previous posts are correct about the weight... He should provide you documents showing your vessel is overweight and prove its weight was the cause of the damages to his trailer.

He will also have to prove that you represented a weight that was not correct... It will all depend on what your contract says, specifically about vessel weight and damages to his truck resulting from an overload.

My guess is that there might be fine print in there somehwere, if he is cocky enough top hold the boat hostage.

If there is nothing in the contract about vessel weight, then he is probably in breech of contract and would be responsible for any damage to your vessel and loss of use as a direct result of him holding it hostage.

I would contact a Lawyer who specializes in Interstate Transportation as soon as possible
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Old 02-10-2012, 13:57   #13
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Re: BOAT HELD HOSTAGE BY MARINE TRANSPORT COMPANY

Quote:
Originally Posted by gclayton View Post
Why not use his name. He deserves his just credit.
The CF mods would zap the thread if OP did that (they don't want to get stuck in the middle of anything legal - as collateral damage!).
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Old 02-10-2012, 14:24   #14
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Re: BOAT HELD HOSTAGE BY MARINE TRANSPORT COMPANY

Last resort, google his address, show up to his house and kick his ass.
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Old 02-10-2012, 17:49   #15
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Re: BOAT HELD HOSTAGE BY MARINE TRANSPORT COMPANY

Something like this happened to me, but I knew where they were parked with the boat. My shipping agent was also a lawyer and the advice was to wait them out, they could not just leave the boat anywhere and leave, plus they have a contract to adhere to. I met them and bought them lunch in a redneck truckers bar and explained I had budgeted every last dime to get the boat and get it shipped. It was a personal thing then and they relented.
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