Court rules on liability in yacht transport suit


The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled that a yacht owner is not liable for additional costs incurred by a third party in the overland transportation of a yacht if the owner had no knowledge of or contract with that third party.

A report on the maritime blog Bryant’s Marine Consulting details how a yacht owner (the defendant in the case) contracted with Able Boat Transport to move his newly acquired 57-foot motoryacht from Missouri to Fort Lauderdale. Without the owner’s knowledge, Able Boat Transport subcontracted D&M Carriers (the plaintiff) for the actual transport.

However, the costs of the delivery were significantly higher than the amount the owner had agreed to pay.

D&M sued, asserting a maritime lien on the yacht. In its ruling, the court held that the company hired by the owner had no actual or apparent authority to bind the owner or to authorize a lien on the yacht.

The problem apparently stemmed from an error in the reported height of the yacht, which was 4 feet more than what was stated in the contract, forcing the hauler to alter its transportation route.