Starr v. WQIS – May 2019 Legal Update: Decision of Interest

We provide an update to the previously reported decision summary that can be found here:

A notice of Appeal was filed by Starr on May 23, 2018.  The parties fully briefed the matter. Oral argument was held at the Second Circuit Court of Appeals on May 15, 2019.  By decision and Summary Order, on May 29, 2019, the appellate court Affirmed the judgment of the District Court.

On appeal Starr Indemnity & Liability Company principally disputes the District Court’s finding of no “substantial threat of discharge”, and Starr also argues that Chevron deference should be afforded to one witness.  The Second Circuit found no error, much less clear error, in the District Court’s determination that the grounded barges never presented a substantial threat of oil discharge. The Appellate Court also determined that Chevron deference did not apply for several convincing reasons. The barges in their grounded state never posed a substantial threat of pollution, and the lightering and salvage costs were not incurred to mitigate any threat, as this was just a Salvage operation.