News & Events

Chicago, March 5, 2019

McGovern, Fitzgerald Prevail Before Seventh Circuit in Maritime Contract Case

Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP lawyers Timothy S. McGovern and Emily J. Fitzgerald defended a logistics company in a maritime case involving the international carriage of copper from China to the United States.

The plaintiff claimed that when the container arrived in the United States, it contained cement bricks instead of copper. On summary judgment, McGovern and Fitzgerald succeeded in limiting damages to $500 per package under the U.S. Carriage of Goods by Sea Act. The plaintiff asked the district court to reconsider summary judgment on the 30th day after the court entered its order. McGovern and Fitzgerald argued that Rule 59(e), Fed. R. Civ. P., required the plaintiff to seek reconsideration within 28 days. Otherwise, the plaintiff had to argue specific grounds for relief under Rule 60(b), which the plaintiff failed to do. The district court agreed and denied the post-judgment motion. The plaintiff appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

On appeal, the plaintiff fervently demanded that the district court erred, resulting in the miscarriage of justice, among other theories for reversal. McGovern and Fitzgerald argued that the plaintiff’s failure to move for reconsideration within 28 days of the entry of judgment, and failure to file a notice of appeal within 30 days of entry of judgment, stripped the Seventh Circuit of jurisdiction to review the district court’s entry of summary judgment. They also argued that, under the abuse of discretion standard, the district court properly denied the plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration.

The Seventh Circuit affirmed, agreeing that the plaintiff did not meet its burden in seeking post-judgment relief and, instead, must endure the “Pyrrhic victory” of minimal damages under maritime law.

For more details, please view the Seventh Circuit opinion.

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