Real Life Situation:
A vessel was carrying a cargo of grass mats from Hong Kong to Long Beach. Clean Bills of Lading had been signed by Master of the vessel.
Upon discharge, the mats were found to be very moldy and wet. The consignee lodged a claim for the damaged cargo in the amount of USD 1,000,000.
We were advised of the incident. Immediately, we liaised with the claimant and discussed the case with the vessel’s P&I Club.
Surveys are done by both consignee and P&I Club’s Surveyors. However, no conclusive evidence was drawn from the surveys on the cause of damage. We traced the entire voyage from time of loading to delivery and found no unusual occurrence during the voyage. Next, we contacted the Seller of the grass mat and found out that this is the first time the grass mat were sold and shipped overseas. There is no record of proof that these grass mat surviving a long sea voyage.
We arranged for laboratory testing on the grass mats. The results showed that there is a tendency for the mats to produce its own moisture on a long sea transit. We put across our argument that the cargo damage was due to the inherent nature of the cargo and the shipowner is not liable. We discussed the matter with some well-known cargo lawyers appointed by the Claimant. After several meetings, we offered with the approval of P&I Club a nuisance settlement of USD 30,000.
Despite of the fact that the cargo lawyers threatened to commence court litigation, we maintained our position and eventually the offer was accepted. The full and final settlement for this case is USD 30,000. In this case, we are able to assist the Shipowner to avoid a very serious and large claim and keep his claim record clean.