Exxon Co., U. S. A. v. Sofec, Inc., 517 U.S. 830, 3 (1996)

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Opinion of the Court

trial in the particular way that it did, the Court declines to address the argument. Pp. 841-842. 54 F. 3d 570, affirmed.

Thomas, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.

Shirley M. Hufstedler argued the cause and filed briefs for petitioners.

George Playdon argued the cause for respondents. With him on the brief for respondents Pacific Resources, Inc., et al. were James W. McCartney, Theodore G. Dimitry, Eugene J. Silva, and Richard H. Page. Kenneth W. Starr, Edward W. Warren, Richard A. Cordray, Randall K. Schmitt, David W. Proudfoot, and John R. Lacy filed a brief for respondents Sofec, Inc., et al.*

Justice Thomas delivered the opinion of the Court. In United States v. Reliable Transfer Co., 421 U. S. 397 (1975), we abandoned the "divided damages" rule previously applied to claims in admiralty for property damages, and adopted the comparative fault principle for allocating damages among parties responsible for an injury. In this case we affirm that the requirement of legal or "proximate" causation, and the related "superseding cause" doctrine, apply in admiralty notwithstanding our adoption of the comparative fault principle.


This case arises from the stranding of a tanker, the Exxon Houston, several hours after it broke away from a Single Point Mooring System (SPM) owned and operated by the HIRI respondents and manufactured by respondent Sofec, Inc.1 The Houston was engaged in delivering oil into HIRI's

*Thomas J. Wagner and Chester D. Hooper filed a brief for the Maritime Law Association of the United States as amicus curiae.

1 The Houston was owned and operated by petitioner Exxon Shipping Company, whose vessels carried crude oil for petitioner Exxon Company, U. S. A. We will refer to both of these companies as Exxon. The HIRI

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