Admiralty – Limitation of Liability – Right of Vendor of Chattel to Limit Liability

The United States sold a steam tanker to S corporation and S delivered the vessel to T corporation for repairs. While it was moored at T‘s pier there was an explosion on board which caused extensive damage to the vessel and killed or injured fifty-two persons. T filed a libel against the United States alleging that at the time of the sale to S the United States also had sold, by a separate contract, a quantity of oil located in the vessel. The libelant further alleged that the United States, having represented the oil to be of one type whereas in fact it was of a different and more dangerous nature, was liable for the injury suffered by T on a theory of breach of vendor’s warranty. On motion by T to dismiss the government’s petition for limitation of liability, held, motion denied. The United States is an “owner” within the meaning of the Limited Liability Act and may limit its liability notwithstanding the theory of T‘s claim.In re The Trojan, (D.C. Cal. 1958) 167 F. Supp. 576.