My company provided and installed a number of systems on a commercial vessel in Florida. The owner has yet to pay the balance due ($30,000 - approximately 1/3 of the total). The balance has been due since October of 2012.
Landlord / Tenant Lawyer
By vessel I assume you are talking about a boat (if not ignore the rest of this.) A maritime lien for services rendered is a claim against the vessel itself, not the owner of the vessel. It is sort of like saying the boat itself wronged you. If you must sue for the payment, you will sue the vessel and it would be arrested.
Once the boat is arrested the owner will be allowed to post a security to have the boat released so they will be underway. This is to prevent any disruption in commerce. If a security is not posted, the boat may find itself being sold at auction. The proceeds of the sale will be used to pay creditors.
I recommend you find a good admiralty/maritime attorney in your area. They would be able to better assess how you should proceed and advise you. Make no mistake, a non-admiralty/maritime attorney may find themselves in strange waters if they want to proceed with a case like this.
Best of luck.
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Mr Davis is correct. The area of admiralty law is unique in this respect.
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Agree with counsel. An action in rem (which is an action against the vessel itself), is a federal maritime cause of action in which the vessel can be seized, or arrested, by a writ issued by a federal court for a debt.
Contact a maritime lawyer in your area. While you may have to pay for counsel in a case like this, often the attorneys fees are recouped in the payment to release the vessel.
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Admiralty / Maritime Attorney
You had a lien on the vessel at the time of the installation of neccessary systems. Your question is how to file the lien or collect on the debt. Other commenting counsel is correct in what they wrote and offer good advice when they suggest getting a maritime attorney to help you. Exactly where and how and if I would do it depends on some additional facts. But it can be done. I would recommend that prior to installing systems aboard any other vessels that you contact a good maritime attorney who can advise you of how to best conduct business involving supplying neccessaries to vessels. Good luck.
Legal disclaimer: This answer does not constitute, legal advice nor does it constitute an attorney-client relationship. www.lygnoslawfirm.com Free Consultation 813 259-9494 Michael Lygnos, Esq., Lygnos Law Firm P.A., Serving Tampa Bay, Florida