Document Type

Case Note


A recent case in the Court of Federal Claims was the first test by owners of oil tankers and tank barges of section 4115 of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA 90), otherwise known as the vessel construction requirement. The Court held that Maritrans, Inc., owners of thirty-seven tank barges affected by the Act's double hull requirement, was premature in claiming that the requirement exacted a regulatory taking of their property. The court used a standard of review that deviated in part from U.S. Supreme Court takings guidelines and instead followed a more conservative script dictated by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal District. This Note will first provide a historical foundation by analyzing the background, statutory content, and intended effect of OPA 90, as well as a short summary of the evolution of takings decisions in both the Supreme Court and the Federal Circuit courts. Following that discussion will be a consideration of the Maritrans opinion itself. This Note concludes with a discussion of the peculiar tailoring of the court's analysis and the effect this opinion may have on both vessel owners and triers of fact in future considerations of OPA 90. This Note will also examine an alternative test of regulatory takings that may have provided guidance for the Maritrans court in reaching its conclusion that OPA 90 did not exact a taking of vessels out of compliance with the Act's construction requirement.



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