Adrift at Sea in Search of the Proper Scope of the Penhallow Rule: D’Amico Dry Ltd. v. Primera Maritime (Hellas) Ltd.

Michael Gaines | Note

Bulk carrier and panama operator D’Amico Dry Limited brought suit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York to enforce an English court’s judgment awarding D’Amico over $1.7 million on a contract claim against Primera Maritime (Hellas) Limited. Primera had failed to pay on a freight forwarding agreement (FFA) between the two parties. Because FFAs are not maritime contracts under English law, the underlying suit was heard in the commercial court of the Queen’s Bench Division, rather than the admiralty court. However, in its suit to enforce the judgment in the United States, D’Amico asserted federal maritime jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1333 before the district court determined that it lacked admiralty jurisdiction and granted Primera’s motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, reasoning that the English judgment was not rendered on an admiralty claim.