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The judges of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals have affirmed a ruling from the Southern District of New Jersey that found a shipping company failed to establish the material terms of a lost policy and that the company’s claims against its former broker were time-barred. The case is called Cosmopolitan Shipping Co. v. Continental Ins. Co., 2023 U.S. App. LEXIS 2311 (2nd Cir. 2023). Please note that this opinion is unpublished and may have limited precedential value in certain jurisdictions. 

Cosmopolitan is a shipping company that operated multiple types of vessels as far back as World War II. The company was one of many who aided post-war recovery efforts for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA). Continental had provided the UNRRA with a maritime protection and indemnity (P&I) policy dubbed Policy C-4893. It wasn’t until the 1980s that seamen who had sailed on Cosmopolitan vessels began suing the company for harm caused by asbestos exposure aboard the vessels. Those suits settled in September 2017 for nearly $4.6 million. Cosmopolitan sought coverage from Continental under Policy C-4893, claiming they were owed coverage because they had chartered their vessels on UNRRA’s behalf while Policy C-4893 was effective. The trouble was, Cosmopolitan could not find a physical copy of the policy. Given that Policy C-4893 was issued during Harry Truman’s first term, the difficulty in keeping track of the policy itself is understandable. But losing track of the policy also means losing track of the policy terms. 

Kelly Helton, JD

 

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