Under the concept of “the American rule,” court awards of attorneys’ fees are usually not recoverable and are regarded as exceptional under maritime law.
In Reliable Salvage and Towing, Inc. v. 35’ Sea Ray, 2011 WL 1058863 M.D.Fla., March 21, 2011), the Court found that , as the defense was frivolous – and brought in bad faith – as vessel owner acknowledged responsibility for $7,523.10 in fees, but had not paid it for over three years.
While acknowledging that attorneys’ fees in an admiralty case are generally only
available when statutorily or contractually authorized, the Court noted another circumstance when one party “willfully and persistently refused to pay the plaintiff what was plainly owed to him.” At 13, citing Southeastern Marine, LLC v. Motor Yacht Ocean Club, 2010 WL 2540701 (M.D.Fla., June 21, 2010).
Is this an expansion of “the American rule?”
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