Commercial manager caught by “scatter gun”
The sinking of a cargo ship with tragic loss of life resulted in large claims by the bereaved families. As the port of loading had been in the USA, an American lawyer, employing the usual “scatter gun” approach, issued summonses against everyone who had even a remote connection with the ill-fated ship. One of the targets of the lawyers’ “scatter gun” was the commercial manager, whose only connection with the ship was to fix her employment. The claim was vigorously resisted because the commercial manager was not, and could not be, in any way responsible for the sinking. One by one all the other defendants settled with the bereaved families, and the commercial manager was left with the unenviable prospect of being the sole defendant at a jury trial in the US courts. Fearing that the jury would allow their natural sympathy for the families to cloud their judgement and overrule the evidence, the Club’s lawyer recommended a “cost of defence” settlement. An amount of US$ 370,000 was therefore paid in claim settlement and costs for a loss for which the commercial manager had absolutely no liability.