In contractual agreements, the validity of indemnity provisions can become a subject of contention between parties. But what happens when determining a contract’s maritime nature becomes pivotal in a case involving specialty services for drilling or production in navigable waters? As discussed below, this issue was scrutinized in a maritime appeal action filed with the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
Apache Corporation (“Apache”) had a blanket master services contract (“MSC”) with Specialty Rental Tools & Supply, L.L.P. (“STS”). This MSC Had an indemnity provision that ran in favor of Apache and its contractors. The work order didn’t require a vessel, nor was it anticipated that it would be needed to perform the job. Apache contracted with Larry Doiron, Inc.
(“LDI”), to provide a crane barge that was needed for the operation. Unfortunately, a member of the STS crew was injured by LDI operators during crane usage, prompting LDI to file a limitation of liability proceeding as the crane’s owner and a complaint against STS to seek indemnity as per the MSC.