Average Joe SCOTUS: CITGO Asphalt Refining Co. v. Frescati Shipping Co.

The time is 2004. CITGO ordered some oil from Venezuela to be delivered to New Jersey, and Frescati owned the dingy that was supposed to bring that shit there.

As Frescati’s piece of shit boat made it’s way through a section of river near it’s destination, it hit an abandoned anchor on the floor of the river, and it opened up a huge hole in the boat, dumping a fucking shit ton of oil in the river.

So here’s the deal. The section it passed through is monitored by the Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE), and occasionally dredged, so as to catch any stray fucking anchors and other shit that might be lying around, and fuck up a boat, just like this one. But the ACOE aren’t required to do that shit preemptively to look for anchors and shit, they just do it every so often.

So Frescati and Uncle Sam basically split the cost of the spill, and CITGO wasn’t deemed liable by a lower court, since they hadn’t been in control of the oil at that point, and no one could fairly argue it was their fault. But then, an appellate court found that CITGO had provided a “safe berth warranty” which basically means CITGO told Frescati that shit was safe AF to cruise through that shithole river, and therefore Frescati had no reason to think they’d fucking stumble into a loose-ass anchor lying around. So they determined CITGO may be liable. But, and here’s the fun part. They argued the government had basically told CITGO, “Nah man, the shit’s all good. Sail on through. That river’s clean.” So CITGO’s warranty was issued based on the government’s clearly bullshit claims. So they made CITGO only liable for half.

So now SCOTUS is left determining if CITGO is liable because of their warranty or not.

CITGO cleverly made the argument that the ship insured itself and its cargo. So clearly, they knew they were liable for the safety of their ship. If they thought CITGO was liable, why would they insure it separately?

SCOTUS sided 7:2 in favor of Frescati, holding CITGO liable, since they gave their safe-berth warranty. Thomas and Alito however, dissented, saying that the safe-berth clause has no language guaranteeing safety.

Drop some genius on me here.

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