Quarterly report pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d)

Commitments And Contingencies

v3.19.1
Commitments And Contingencies
3 Months Ended
Mar. 31, 2019
Commitments and Contingencies Disclosure [Abstract]  
Commitments And Contingencies
11. COMMITMENTS AND CONTINGENCIES
As of March 31, 2019, the Company's capital commitments by year of expected payment were as follows (in thousands):
 
Remainder of 2019
 
2020
 
Total
Ocean Services
$
1,378

 
$
8,388

 
$
9,766

Inland Services
17,875

 
1,039

 
18,914

Other
176

 

 
176

 
$
19,429

 
$
9,427

 
$
28,856


Ocean Services' capital commitments included an interest in two foreign-flag rail ferries. Inland Services’ capital commitments included two inland river towboats, other equipment and vessel and terminal improvements. Subsequent to March 31, 2019, the Company committed to purchase additional equipment for $1.5 million.
During 2012, the Company sold National Response Corporation (“NRC”), NRC Environmental Services Inc., SEACOR Response Ltd., and certain other subsidiaries to J.F. Lehman & Company, a private equity firm (the “SES Business Transaction”).
On December 15, 2010, O’Brien’s Response Management L.L.C. (“ORM”) and NRC were named as defendants in one of the several “master complaints” filed in the overall multi-district litigation relating to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill response and clean-up in the Gulf of Mexico (the “DWH Response), which is currently pending in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana (the “MDL”). The “B3” master complaint naming ORM and NRC asserted various claims on behalf of a putative class against multiple defendants concerning the clean-up activities generally and the use of dispersants specifically. Both prior to and following the filing of the aforementioned “B3” master complaint, individual civil actions naming the Company, ORM, and/or NRC alleging B3 exposure-based injuries and/or damages were consolidated with the MDL and stayed pursuant to court order. On February 16, 2016, all but eleven “B3” claims against ORM and NRC were dismissed with prejudice (the “B3 Dismissal Order”). On August 2, 2016, the Court granted an omnibus motion for summary judgment as it concerns ORM and NRC in its entirety, dismissing the remaining eleven plaintiffs’ claims against ORM and NRC with prejudice (the “Remaining Eleven Plaintiffs’ Dismissal Order”). The deadline to appeal both of these orders has expired. At present, there is only one remaining claim. On April 8, 2013, the Company, ORM, and NRC were named as defendants in William and Dianna Fitzgerald v. BP Exploration et al., No. 2:13-CV-00650 (E.D. La.) (the “Fitzgerald Action”), which is a suit by a husband and wife whose son allegedly participated in the clean-up effort and became ill as a result of his exposure to oil and dispersants. While the decedent in the Fitzgerald Action’s claims against ORM and NRC were dismissed by virtue of the Remaining Eleven Plaintiffs’ Dismissal Order, the claim as against the Company remains stayed. The Company is unable to estimate the potential exposure, if any, resulting from this matter, to the extent it remains viable, but believes it is without merit and does not expect that it will have a material effect on its consolidated financial position, results of operations or cash flows.
On February 18, 2011, Triton Asset Leasing GmbH, Transocean Holdings LLC, Transocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling Inc., and Transocean Deepwater Inc. (collectively “Transocean”) named ORM and NRC as third-party defendants in a Rule 14(c) Third-Party Complaint in Transocean’s own Limitation of Liability Act action, which is part of the overall MDL, tendering to ORM and NRC the claims in the “B3” master complaint that have already been asserted against ORM and NRC. Various contribution and indemnity cross-claims and counterclaims involving ORM and NRC were subsequently filed. The Company believes that the potential exposure, if any, resulting therefrom has been reduced as a result of the various developments in the MDL, including the B3 Dismissal Order and Remaining Eleven Plaintiffs’ Dismissal Order, and does not expect that these matters will have a material effect on its consolidated financial position, results of operations or cash flows.
Separately, on March 2, 2012, the Court announced that BP Exploration and Production Inc. (“BPXP”) and BP America Production Company (“BP America,” and with BPXP, “BP”) and the Plaintiffs had reached an agreement on the terms of two proposed class action settlements that will resolve, among other things, Plaintiffs’ economic loss and property damage claims and clean-up related claims against BP. The Company, ORM, and NRC had no involvement in negotiating or agreeing to the terms of either settlement, nor are they parties or signatories thereto. The BP settlement pertaining to personal injury claims (the “Medical Settlement”) purported to resolve the “B3” claims asserted against BP and also established a right for class members to pursue individual claims against BP (but not ORM or NRC) for “later-manifested physical conditions,” defined in the Medical Settlement to be physical conditions that were “first diagnosed” after April 16, 2012 and which are claimed to have resulted from exposure during the DWH Response. The back-end litigation-option (“BELO”) provision of the Medical Settlement has specifically-delineated procedures and limitations, should any “B3” class member seek to invoke their BELO right. For example, there are limitations on the claims and defenses that can be asserted, as well as on the issues, elements, and proofs that may be litigated at any trial and the potential recovery for any Plaintiff. Notwithstanding that the Company, ORM, and NRC are listed on the Medical Settlement’s release as to claims asserted by Plaintiffs, the Medical Settlement still permits BP to seek indemnity from any party, to the extent BP has a valid indemnity right. The Medical Settlement was approved by the Court on January 11, 2013 and made effective on February 12, 2014. As of mid-April 2019, BP has tendered approximately 2,250 claims pursued pursuant to the Medical Settlement’s BELO provision for indemnity to ORM and approximately 210 such claims to NRC. ORM and NRC have rejected all of BP’s indemnity demands relating to the Medical Settlement’s BELO provision and on February 14, 2019 commenced a legal action against BPXP and BP America with respect to same. That action, captioned O’Brien’s Response Management, L.L.C. et al. v. BP Exploration & Production Inc. et al., Case No. 2:19-CV-01418-CJB-JCW (E.D. La.) (the “Declaratory Judgment Action”), seeks declaratory relief that ORM and NRC owe BP no indemnity with respect to the exposure-based claims expressly contemplated by the Medical Settlement’s BELO provision, nor any contribution, in light of BP’s own actions and conduct over the past nine years (including its complete failure to even seek indemnity) and the resultant prejudice to ORM and NRC; that any indemnity or contribution rights BP may have once had with respect to these personal injury and exposure claims were extinguished once the Medical Settlement was approved by the MDL Court in 2013; and that the immunity already afforded to ORM and NRC via the B3 Dismissal Order and the Remaining Eleven Plaintiffs’ Dismissal Order operates to bar any indemnity or contribution claims against them by BP.  BP’s responsive pleading to the Complaint in the Declaratory Judgment Action is due on May 7, 2019. The Court has also ordered the parties to participate in early mediation per BP’s request. Mediation is schedule for June 21, 2019 and the parties are in the process of exchanging information in advance of those proceedings.
BP has also similarly recently tendered personal injury claims to ORM and NRC that are being pursued by Plaintiffs who opted out of the Medical Settlement and who are thus proceeding with their “B3” claims in their ordinary course (as opposed to pursuant to the Medical Settlement’s BELO provision). Generally speaking, the Company, ORM, and NRC believe that BP’s indemnity demands with respect to any “B3” claims, including those involving Medical Settlement class members invoking BELO rights and those involving Medical Settlement opt-out Plaintiffs, are untimely and improper, and intend to vigorously defend their interests. Moreover, ORM has contractual indemnity coverage for the above-referenced claims through its separate agreements with sub-contractors that worked for ORM during the DWH Response and have preserved their rights in that regard while the Declaratory Judgment Action is pending. Overall, however, the Company believes that both of BP’s settlements have reduced the potential exposure in connection with the various cases relating to the DWH Response. The Company is unable to estimate the potential exposure, if any, resulting from these claims, but does not expect that they will have a material effect on its consolidated financial position, results of operations or cash flows.
In the ordinary course of the Company’s business, it may agree to indemnify its counterparty to an agreement. If the indemnified party makes a successful claim for indemnification, the Company would be required to reimburse that party in accordance with the terms of the indemnification agreement. Indemnification agreements generally, but not always, are subject to threshold amounts, specified claim periods and other restrictions and limitations.
In connection with the SES Business Transaction, the Company remains contingently liable for work performed in connection with the DWH Response. Pursuant to the agreement governing the sale, the Company’s potential liability to the purchaser may not exceed the consideration received by the Company for the SES Business Transaction. The Company is currently indemnified under contractual agreements with BP for the potential “B3” liabilities relating to the DWH Response; this indemnification is unrelated to, and thus not impacted by, the indemnification BP has demanded and discussed above.
In the ordinary course of its business, the Company becomes involved in various other litigation matters including, among other things, claims by third parties for alleged property damages and personal injuries. Management has used estimates in determining the Company’s potential exposure to these matters and has recorded reserves in its financial statements related thereto where appropriate. It is possible that a change in the Company’s estimates of that exposure could occur, but the Company does not expect such changes in estimated costs would have a material effect on the Company’s consolidated financial position, results of operations or cash flows.