Annual report pursuant to Section 13 and 15(d)

Commitments And Contingencies

v3.19.3.a.u2
Commitments And Contingencies
12 Months Ended
Dec. 31, 2019
Commitments and Contingencies Disclosure [Abstract]  
Commitments And Contingencies
17. COMMITMENTS AND CONTINGENCIES
The Company's capital commitments as of December 31, 2019 by year of expected payment were as follows (in thousands):
2020 2021 2022 Total
Ocean Services $ 22,394    $ 30,965    $ 2,636    $ 55,995   
Inland Services 5,663    —    —    5,663   
Other 582    —    —    582   
$ 28,639    $ 30,965    $ 2,636    $ 62,240   
Ocean Services' capital commitments included four U.S.-flag harbor tugs and an interest in two foreign-flag rail ferries. Inland Services’ capital commitments included four inland river dry-cargo barges, two inland river towboats, other equipment, and vessel and terminal improvements. Subsequent to December 31, 2019, the Company committed to purchase two inland river dry-cargo barges and other property and equipment for $2.5 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 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. The last remaining claim against the Company in connection with the "B3" master complaint was dismissed with prejudice, by an order of the Court granted on July 25, 2019.
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-January 2020, BP has tendered approximately 2,380 claims pursuant to the Medical Settlement’s BELO provision for indemnity to ORM and approximately 230 of such claims to NRC. Recently, approximately 450 of the claims that were tendered by BP to ORM and approximately 35 of the claims tendered to NRC have been dismissed with prejudice. 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 neither ORM nor NRC have any indemnity obligation to BP 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 subsequently proceeded to begin tendering 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). ORM and NRC also rejected these demands, and amended its Declaratory Judgment Action on December 11, 2019 to cover BP’s indemnity demands for these opt out claims as well.
On October 16, 2019, BP asserted four amended counterclaims against ORM and NRC, as well as two claims against ORM’s insurer (Navigators). Those amended counterclaims are breach of contract against ORM for failing to indemnify BP or name BP as an additional insured on the Navigators policy, declaratory judgment that NRC must indemnify BP under certain circumstances, and unjust enrichment against ORM and NRC. ORM and NRC moved to dismiss the last three of those counterclaims. That motion to dismiss was fully briefed as of January 10, 2020, and remains pending. The Court also ordered the parties to file simultaneous judgment on the pleadings briefs by February 14, 2020, and any oppositions by March 16, 2020.
Generally, 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 has 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.