Bremen vs Zapata Offshore Company

In: Business and Management

Submitted By pstrucks
Words 1414
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The Bremen et al. v. Zapata Off-Shore Company
Supreme Court of the United States
407 U.S. 1; 92 S. Ct. 1907; 32 L. Ed. 2d 513; 1972 U.S. LEXIS 114

Date of argument: March 21, 1972
Date of decision: June 12, 1972

Story:
A German company, Unterweser (petitioner) entered into an agreement with an American company, Zapata (respondent) to tow a drilling rig, owned by the respondent, from Louisiana to Italy. During the tow, the rig was damaged in a storm and the respondent instructed the Unterweser to tow the rig to the nearest port of refuge, Tampa. In Tampa the respondent files suit in admiralty against Unterweser. Unterweser request the district court of Tampa to invoke the forum-selection clause, which was mutually agreed upon in the contract and which provided for “litigation of any dispute in the High Court of Justice in London”. (The Bremen et al v. Zapata Off-Shore Co., 1972)
Facts:
* “In November 1967, respondent Zapata, a Houston-based American corporation, contracted with petitioner Unterweser, a German corporation, to tow Zapata's ocean-going, self-elevating drilling rig Chaparral from Louisiana to a point off Ravenna, Italy, in the Adriatic Sea, where Zapata had agreed to drill certain wells.” (The Bremen et al v. Zapata Off-Shore Co., 1972, p. 5) * “Zapata had solicited bids for the towage, and several companies including Unterweser had responded. Unterweser was the low bidder and Zapata requested it to submit a contract, which it did. The contract submitted by Unterweser contained the following provision, which is at issue in this case:
"Any dispute arising must be treated before the London Court of Justice."”
(The Bremen et al v. Zapata Off-Shore Co., 1972, p. 5) * The Contract included two clauses which mitigated the liability for damages to the towed rig:
“[Unterweser and its] masters and crews are not responsible for defaults…...

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