John Gallagher, Special Correspondent | Sep 02, 2016 3:09PM EDT
Shipowners seeking to recoup losses from Hanjin Shipping are taking aim at the liner’s customers through lawsuits filed in Maryland and California.
Among those named in the lawsuits are the logistics companies APL Logistics, C.H. Robinson, and Expeditors International and container lines Hapag-Lloyd and NYK Line. Hanjin has a fleet of
98 container ships and the South Korean Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries estimates that as many as 540,000 twenty-foot-equivalent units are floating around on its vessels.
Montemp Maritime, a Liberian limited partnership with headquarters in London, on Wednesday filed suit against Hanjin for $1.69 million in late charter payments related to the 3,600-TEU Hanjin Louisiana.
The company said it expects to lose an extra $720,000 each month that Hanjin fails to make payments.
Montemp applied for attachment and garnishment under Supplemental Admiralty Rule B in federal district court for Central California, home of the ports of Long Beach, and in the district of
Maryland, where the Port of Baltimore is located.
It contends that 36 “garnishees” named in the suits, including the aforementioned liners and logistics companies, are located within the two districts.
Montemp’s filing seeks to attach “all of Hanjin’s tangible or intangible property or any other funds held by any garnishee, which are due and owing to Hanjin” up to at least the amount of the missed charter payments.
Hastay Marine, on behalf of ship management company Zodiac Maritime, filed a similar lawsuit related to the 3,600-TEU Hanjin New Jersey, saying Hanjin owed $1.38 million.
Hanjin may be able to shield itself from such lawsuits filed in the United States by using Chapter
15 of the US Bankruptcy Code, which can be used by non-US owners in foreign bankruptcy proceedings to protect a company’s assets within the United States.
Hanjin’s unexpected bankruptcy has already led to ship arrests, with three known so far known to have been arrested, with one in Singapore and two in China, and this number is expected to rise. Scores more Hanjin vessels are stuck outside ports from which they have been denied entry, or are tied up alongside with terminals refusing to work their cargo.
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