The International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) has filed suit against Hapag-Lloyd, United States Maritime Alliance (USMX) and Orient Overseas Container Line, Ltd. (OOCL) seeking damages of US$300 million for a breach of contract.

The ILA filed suit on 23 April against Hapag-Lloyd AG and USMX in the Superior Court of New Jersey in Newark for breach of a master contract and other infractions that hurt ILA members, seeking damages in the amount of US$200 million from both defendants individually or jointly.

Three days later, the ILA amended its initial complaint in the New Jersey Superior Court in order to add the Hong Kong-based OOCL as a defendant in the lawsuit, seeking an additional US$100 million.

This amendment was prompted when OOCL elected to send one of its container vessels to a marine terminal that employs container-handling workers who are not covered by the master contract between the ILA and USMX.

USMX is a non-profit, incorporated membership association that represents employers of the East and Gulf Coast longshore industry. Both Hapag-Lloyd and OOCL are included in USMX’s membership list, where we can find container carriers, terminal operators (direct employers), and port associations.

The lawsuit alleges that the defendants are liable for tortious interference with a contractual relationship, tortious interference with advantageous business advantage, breach of contract, and civil conspiracy, according to ILA’s statement.

ILA said in its announcement that the lawsuit arises out of the USMX’s and Hapag-Lloyd’s attempts to interfere with and undermine the coast-wide Master Contract that the ILA has with its employers from Maine to Texas.

The ILA mentions in its official complaint that “This Master Contract is a full and complete agreement on all Master Contract issues relating to the employment of longshore employees on container and ro-ro vessels and container and ro-ro terminals in all ports from Maine to Texas at which ships of USMX carriers and carriers that are subscribers to this Master Contract may call.”

In addition, “The Master Contract contains provisions that describe and define the ILA’s work jurisdiction. These provisions grant the ILA jurisdiction over all work that employees covered by the Master Contract have historically performed on a multi-employer and coastwise basis,” according to ILA complaint.

Container News contacted Hapag-Lloyd but the German company said it cannot comment on ongoing proceedings. In addition, USMX and OOCL have not responded to CN requests for comment.

Source: Container-News