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Portland Pilots Inc. v. M/V Nova Star

United States District Court, D. Maine

September 7, 2016

MAINE UNIFORM RENTAL, INC. D/B/A PRATT ABBOTT UNIFORM & LINEN, INTERVENOR PLAINTIFF
v.
M/V NOVA STAR, in rem, Defendant

          FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

          D. Brock Hornby United States District Judge

         On August 24, 2016, I conducted a bench trial of Pratt Abbott Uniform & Linen ("Pratt Abbot[']'s[1] claim to a maritime lien on the M/V Nova Star ("Nova Star"). I heard closing arguments the same day. The following are my findings of fact and conclusions of law. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 52.

         Findings of Fact[2]

         1. In 2013, Singapore Technologies Marine Ltd. ("ST Marine") and Quest Navigation, Inc. ("Quest") entered into a joint venture to operate a ferry service between Yarmouth, Nova Scotia and Portland, Maine.

         2. ST Marine and Quest incorporated Nova Star Cruises Ltd. in Nova Scotia to operate the ferry service. ST Marine owned ten percent of the company.

         3. Nova Star Cruises Ltd. chartered a vessel owned by ST Marine, the M/V Nova Star, to make the crossing.

         4. Nova Star Cruises Ltd. set out making the Nova Star a ferry service that was functionally the equivalent of a hotel that cruised between Yarmouth and Portland.

         5. To equip the vessel, Nova Star Cruises Ltd. asked Pratt Abbott to supply the linens[3] for the vessel. The General Manager of Pratt Abbott, Thomas Gridley, negotiated with Nova Star Cruises Ltd.'s CFO, Bruce Allain.

         6. Pratt Abbott, a vendor that has worked with many hotels, offered Nova Star Cruises Ltd. the option of buying the linens up front, or renting from Pratt Abbott over a specific period of time linens that Pratt Abbott purchased and owned. In either event, Pratt Abbott would clean the linens and return them to the ship on a daily basis.

         7. To reduce its upfront expenses and to better project its weekly costs, Nova Star Cruises Ltd. opted to rent the linens from Pratt Abbott over a five-year period.

         8. Before finalizing the agreement, Nova Star Cruises Ltd. paid Pratt Abbott a $51, 536.45 deposit, and Nova Star Cruises Ltd. filled out a credit application through Pratt Abbott. Pl.'s Ex. 1.

         9. In April 2014, Pratt Abbott entered into a contract with CFO Bruce Allain and Mark Amundsen, whereby Nova Star Cruises Ltd. agreed to rent the linens from Pratt Abbott over a five-year period. The contract specified that

[i]f the contract is terminated prior to the expiration date, Customer [Nova Star Cruises Ltd.] agrees to promptly purchase all merchandise that has been ordered for or put into service for the Customer at Company's [Pratt Abbott's] then current published replacement rate schedule (this agreed sale of all merchandise is in recognition of the substantial investment of the company including, ...

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