State of Alaska v. John Doe

In Admiralty Practice, Parties on (Updated )

This is the second volley in the litigation surrounding the blockade of the Alaskan ferry "Malaspina" by B.C. fishermen in July of 1997. The motion was brought by various fishermen for an order that the action was not properly commenced as against them. The Statement of Claim initially named 17 vessels, John Doe, Jane Doe, and other persons and ships unknown. In a subsequent amendment pursuant to Rule 421 and without a Court order, the Plaintiff purported to add 94 ships and their owners. The added Defendants argued that this was the addition of parties and could only be done with a Court order pursuant to rule 1716. The Plaintiff argued that they were not adding new parties but were merely correcting a misnomer. The Court held that for the Plaintiff to prevail the burden was on it to lead evidence showing the new ships were in the path of the "Malaspina". As the Plaintiff led no such evidence, the application was allowed and the Court ordered the action against these additional Defendants had not been properly commenced.