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G.O. America Shipping Company, Inc. v. China Cosco Shipping Corporation Limited

United States District Court, W.D. Washington

December 5, 2017

G.O. AMERICA SHIPPING COMPANY, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
CHINA COSCO SHIPPING CORPORATION LIMITED, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER ON MOTIONS

          Marsha J. Pechman United States District Judge

         The above-entitled Court, having received and reviewed:

         1. Defendant COSCO Atlantic Shipping Ltd.' s Motion for Increased Amount of Security for Costs (Dkt. No. 53), Plaintiffs Response (Dkt. No. 58), and Defendant's Reply (Dkt. No. 59);

         2. Defendant COSCO Shipping Lines Co., Ltd.'s Motion to Stay Execution of Process and Set Surety Bond Amount and Language (Dkt. No. 64), Plaintiffs Response (Dkt. No. 67), and Defendant's Reply (Dkt. No. 68); and

         3. Defendant COSCO Atlantic Shipping Ltd.' s Motion to Dismiss and/or to Vacate Rule B Attachment (Dkt. No. 70), Plaintiffs Response (Dkt. No. 77), and Defendant's Reply (Dkt. No. 78); all attached declarations and exhibits; and relevant portions of the records, rules as follows:

         IT IS ORDERED that the motion to dismiss is GRANTED, and this matter is DISMISSED with prejudice.

         IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the remainder of the motions pending in this matter are DISMISSED as MOOT.

         Background

         The factual and procedural background of this case is convoluted, to say the least:

         In June 2017, Plaintiff filed a maritime claim against a shipyard in China, naming the shipyard - China Shipping Industry (Shanghai Changxing) Co. Ltd. - and a parent company -COSCO Shipping Heavy Industry Co., Ltd. - as defendants ("the Shipyard Defendants"). (Dkt. No. 1.) The complaint alleged that Plaintiff had contracted with the shipyard to repair its vessel, that the Shipyard Defendants had breached the contract and were refusing to return the vessel to Plaintiffs possession.

         The day after filing the complaint, Plaintiff filed an exparte motion for a writ of attachment, which was denied because Plaintiff had not identified any property of the Shipyard Defendants within the district. (Dkt. No. 4.) Plaintiff responded by filing an amended complaint and an amended motion for an attachment writ - the amended pleadings named COSCO SHIPPING Lines ("CSL" a subsidiary of China COSCO SHIPPING Corporation, Ltd.) as a Defendant, but failed to allege that CSL was involved with the shipyard or was an alter ego of any sort.

         Nevertheless, in its attachment motion Plaintiff asserted that CSL owned three vessels that would call on ports in this district - COSCO TAICANG, COSCO EUROPE and COSCO KAOSHIUNG. The Court granted the amended exparte motion and issued a writ of attachment for the three ships. (Dkt. No. 8.) On June 30, 2017, Plaintiff attached the COSCO TAICANG.

         On that same day, COSCO Atlantic Shipping ("Atlantic") - the registered owner of COSCO TAICANG - entered a limited appearance and moved to vacate the attachment on the grounds that it was the publicly registered owner of the vessel, had not been named as a defendant and had not been shown to be an alter ego of any of the named Defendants. (Dkt. Nos. 14, 16.) The motion was granted on the grounds that the seized vessel was not the property of any named Defendant. The writ was vacated only as to COSCO TAICANG; the other vessels remain subject to attachment.[1]

         Following the vacatur, Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Verified Complaint ("SAC;" Dkt. No. 56) naming other shipping companies within the COSCO conglomerate - in addition to Atlantic, also named were Shanghai Ocean Shipping Co., COSCO Indian Ocean Shipping Ltd. (owner of the COSCO KAOSHIUNG), and COSCO Oceania Shipping Ltd. (owner of the COSCO OCEANIA) (hereinafter, collectively, "the Shipping Defendants").

         Discussion

         Standard of review

         In analyzing the parties' arguments under FRCP 12(b)(6), the Court must accept all facts alleged in the complaint as true, and draw all inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Barkery. Riverside County Office of Educ, 584 F.3d 821, 824 (9th Cir. 2009). To survive a motion to dismiss, Plaintiffs "factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007).

         "Threadbare recitals of all the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The plaintiff must plead facts "that allow[] the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. Factual allegations "that are merely consistent with a defendant's liability... stop[] short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief." Id. The Court should award dismissal where a complaint lacks a cognizable legal theory or fails to allege sufficient facts to establish a cognizable legal theory. Johnson v. Riverside Healthcare Sys., 534 F.3d 1116, 1121 (9th Cir. 2008). Merely ...


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