Who should pay for the Baltimore bridge?

Ludo Lugnani
Ludo Lugnani

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  • Who should pay for the Baltimore bridge collapse? 🚢
  • US forces South Korea to stop selling to chips to China 🇰🇷
  • Google's new premium search engine 🔍

Who should pay for the Baltimore bridge collapse? 🚢

Last week, a cargo ship called Dali, decided it had enough of maritime traffic laws and slammed into Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, USA.

Result? Six people tragically dead, and a never-ending nightmare for logistics and insurance providers. Plus the continued question of who the hell should be responsible for this disaster.

In the latest update to this saga, the owners of the ship, a company called Grace Ocean (GO), are desperately trying to avoid liability.

Here's all you need to know.

1) What is GO potentially liable for?

As always, the classic legal answer is it depends. GO is looking at potential:

  • Insurance claims for damage to the bridge up to $1.2 billion
  • Claims relating to wrongful death and business interruption, in which a business claims economic losses from an accident, which are likely to range from $350 million to $700 million
  • Worker compensation claims against the employer through its insurance from families of the bridge workers now presumed dead

2) How could GO get out of this?

Unsurprisingly, GO is not keen to foot a multi-billion dollar bill and has decided it wants to limit its liability to about $43.7 million.

How? By channelling its inner Leo di Caprio, and finding an old maritime law from 1851 which became the Titanic's "get out of iceberg-free" card. The law essentially says that if a ship is involved in a crash, the owner will only pay as much as the ship's current worth, post-mishap.

Pre-crash, the Dali was a $90 million floating palace. Post-crash? It's suddenly valued at a garage sale price of $43.7 million. Talk about a bargain (especially when considering the billions of damages it could face from the claims mentioned above).

3) What about insurance?

Best Funny baltimore bridge Memes - 9GAG

The ship is insured by the Britannia Protection and Indemnity Club. That gives the policies related to the Dali a total insured limit of about $3 billion.

A key to determining any insurance claims will be proving whether the accident was caused by negligence, and if so by whom, or mechanical failure.

Plus, interestingly, even though shipping giant Maersk chartered the ship's voyage, it may not be liable as the Danish company had no crew on board and the ship was operated by a charter company.

⚖️ How does this impact Law Firms?

Maritime and Transport Law:

  • Liability and Damage Claims: Lawyers specialising in maritime and transport law will likely see an uptick in demand to represent clients involved in or affected by the bridge collision. They will be advising on liability issues, assessing damage claims, and representing either the shipping company, bridge authorities, or affected businesses and individuals in litigation or settlement negotiations. This could involve complex calculations of damages, including the impact on local businesses due to disrupted transportation networks and the environmental impact of the collision.
  • Regulatory Compliance and Safety Investigations: Following such a high-profile incident, maritime lawyers will also be called upon to advise shipping companies and operators on regulatory compliance matters. They will likely conduct internal investigations to ensure all maritime safety protocols were followed and assist clients in navigating inquiries from maritime authorities. This could involve reviewing crew qualifications, ship maintenance records, and navigational procedures to defend against allegations of negligence or to propose improvements to prevent future incidents.

Insurance Law:

  • Policy Claims and Disputes: Lawyers in the insurance sector will be busy handling claims arising from the incident, advising both insurers and the insured on policy interpretations related to maritime disasters. This will involve scrutinising marine insurance policies, including hull and machinery insurance, protection and indemnity (P&I) coverage, and cargo insurance, to determine the extent of coverage and any potential exclusions that might apply to the bridge collision.
  • Subrogation Rights and Recovery Actions: Insurance lawyers will also be involved in pursuing subrogation rights against responsible parties to recover the amounts paid out in claims. This could involve complex multi-party litigation or arbitration, particularly in cases where multiple insurers are involved, or where there are cross-jurisdictional issues given the international nature of maritime operations.

Environmental Law:

  • Environmental Damage and Remediation: Environmental lawyers will be engaged to address the ecological impact of the collision, advising on liability for any environmental damage caused by the incident, such as fuel spills into the waterway. They will represent either the responsible parties, regulatory bodies, or affected local communities in seeking or defending against claims for environmental remediation and compensation.
  • Regulatory Compliance and Environmental Impact Assessments: In the aftermath of the incident, environmental lawyers will also counsel clients on compliance with environmental regulations and assist in conducting impact assessments to evaluate the long-term effects on the local ecosystem. This might involve navigating the complex landscape of national and international environmental protection laws and working with environmental agencies to develop and implement strategies for ecological restoration and prevention of future incidents.

📰 News Briefing

  • 🔍 Google's AI Move: Word on the street is Google might start charging for some fancy new AI tools in its search engine. They're thinking of bundling this with their Gemini service, which could mean we'd have to pay to access certain search features for the first time.
  • 🌐 TSMC's Earthquake Challenge: TSMC, the chip boss, is bouncing back from Taiwan's biggest quake in a quarter-century. Despite the shake-up, their advanced facilities shut down safely, but there's buzz that this hiccup might mess with the world's chip supply.
  • 🏰 Disney's Boardroom Drama: Nelson Peltz tried to snag a seat at Disney's table but got the cold shoulder as shareholders stuck with the current squad. Bob Iger's keeping his throne, backed by heavyweight investors like BlackRock and Vanguard. Looks like Peltz's Disney adventure is on pause.
  • 🇮🇹 Italy's Covid Fund Crackdown: Italy's not playing games with its Covid cash. They've rounded up 23 folks and grabbed over €600 million, digging into a massive fraud case tied to the EU's hefty €800 billion recovery fund.

📊 Chart of the day

US wants South Korea to stop selling chips to China

Just like Godzilla vs Kong, the US-China duel is the historic match-up that just keeps on giving.

In the latest update, the US wants to further exclude China from chip-making by blocking South Korea from selling it chips.

South Korea's in a pickle, though. They're tight with China, business-wise, since they make a lot of sales in China. Cutting China off completely would be a huge risk for South Korea, one it may not be eager to take. But the US is doubling down, telling allies to hold back on the chip-making goodies China craves.

South Korea, the US, and Japan are planning a little tea party to chat about this whole tech tangle. And South Korea's got to tread lightly, because poking the bear (a.k.a. China) could lead to some serious side-eye, especially since they're all up in China's business space, making chips.

Keep an eye out for this as it's a huge trend. Dw we got you covered and have sent Zippy to investigate further 🐆


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