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Deutsche Shell contracted to deliver crude oil to Placid Refining Co’s. refinery in Port Allen, Louisiana. The oil tanker left Scotland, crossing the Atlantic with no difficulty. On reaching the Mississippi River, a compulsory river pilot guided the tanker upstream. On June 5, the ship passed through shallow water and experienced a vibration, after which its 10-cm radar failed. The captain requested service for the 10-cm radar and also the 3-cm radar, which had a weak picture. Further upstream, the tanker encountered a storm and the 3-cm radar failed, leaving the tanker without any operational radar. The captain was able to make the 3-cm radar operate intermittently, but the pilot, fearing that the 3-cm radar might fail completely, leaving the tanker in shipping lanes without radar, refused to proceed and directed the ship to anchor. Because the Mississippi was at flood stage, before the anchors could hold, the current swept the ship downstream, where it went aground. After a week of salvage efforts, the tanker was refloated and delivered the oil to Placid’s refinery. Deutsche Shell sued Placid under the doctrine of general average and a New Jason clause in the shipping contract. Placid defended on grounds that Deutsche Shell negligently maintained the 3-cm radar, resulting in its failure: for example, a service report three years before the accident indicated that the upper antenna’s array ball bearing needed to be replaced, yet there was no evidence that the recommendation was followed; also, the radar manufacturer’s instructions advised that the antenna array should be overhauled every second year, yet there was no evidence that this was done during the 10 years after the 3-cm radar was installed. The 3-cm radar failed because of water intrusion into its antenna/wavelength components. Did the court find Placid liable to Deutsche Shell?
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