Saturday, January 03, 2009
A Texas metals company staked some claim to about 2,000 metric tons of steel that has been stuck aboard a ship anchored off Virginia Beach since mid-November. Commercial Metals Co. claimed "right or interest" to the steel in a statement filed by the company's lawyers in U.S. District Court this week. The steel has been sitting on the vessel Saturnus since about Nov. 19, waiting to be unloaded and accepted by Commercial Metals, its buyer, according to a lawsuit filed last week by Barna Conshipping, the Spanish company that chartered the vessel. Barna's "in rem" suit, filed Dec. 22 against the steel in Norfolk federal court, seeks to recoup the $545,000 in unpaid chartering fees the vessel has accumulated waiting. An "in rem" lawsuit is one filed against an inanimate object.
SaturnusCommercial Metals responded with a "verified statement of right or interest" on Tuesday and now has until mid-January to explain its claim. JP Morgan Chase bank holds transport documents, called bills of lading, for the steel and also has rights to it, according to the statement. "It hasn't been abandoned," said David Sudbury, senior vice president and general counsel for Commercial Metals. Had "the documents presented to JPMorgan Chase been in compliance with the letter of credit presented, the bank would have paid the letter of credit, but that has not taken place...." "The documents do not conform to the contract," he said, declining to explain further. Lawyers representing Barna and Commercial Metals declined to comment at the request of their clients.