Instructions for Drafting a Shipping Act Complaint

Examples of complaints can be found by browsing the Docket Logs.

A formal complaint must include the following information:

Case Caption

Present the Complainant’s and Respondent’s names in the following format:

Complainant v. Respondent.

Section 1 –The Complainant:

State in this paragraph the exact and complete name without abbreviation of each person, partnership, or corporation filing the complaint. State whether complainant is an association, a corporation, firm, or partnership and the names of the individuals composing the same. For each complainant, state also the nature of and principal place of the business, the street address and email address.

Section 2 – The Respondent:

State in this paragraph the exact and complete name without abbreviation of each person, partnership, or corporation that you claim violated the Shipping Act. State whether the respondent(s) is an association, a corporation, firm, or partnership and the names of the individuals composing the same for each respondent. State also the nature of and principal place of the business, the street address and email address.

Section 3 - Jurisdiction and Legal Authority

State in this paragraph the legal authority and jurisdiction for institution of the proceeding, specifically designating the statutory provisions alleged to have been violated, making reference to the Shipping Act of 1984 (46 U.S.C. §§ 40101-41309) and specifically 46 U.S.C. Chapter 411.

Section 4 – The Matter Complained Of ( Alleged Facts)

State in this and/or sequential paragraphs to be lettered "A," "B," etc., the matter or matters about which you are complaining. This should consist of a clear and concise factual statement sufficient to inform each Respondent with reasonable definiteness of the acts or practices alleged to be in violation. If rates are involved, name each rate, fare, charge, classification, regulation, or practice, the lawfulness of which is challenged

Section 5 – Causation

State in this paragraph the causal connection between the alleged illegal acts of respondent(s) and the claimed injury to complainant(s), with reference to all necessary statutory sections relied upon including violations of the Shipping Act, 46 U.S.C. Chapter 411.

Section 6 – Damages

State in this paragraph the injury to the complainant. This is usually, but not always, expressed as a dollar amount of alleged damages. Note that reparations for damages may only be sought if the complaint is filed within 3 years of the violation.

Section 7 – Request for Relief

State in this paragraph the request that the Commission require respondent(s) to answer the charges and to award the relief requested, or use the standard language below:

Complainant requests that respondent be required to answer the charges made in this complaint; that, after a hearing, the Commission order respondent(s): to cease and desist from violation of the Shipping Act; to put in place lawful and reasonable practices; to pay complainant reparations for the unlawful conduct in the sum of $____, with interest and attorney’s fees and any other sum the Commission determines to be proper; and that the Commission make any further orders as it determines to be proper.

Section 8 – Request for Oral Hearing

Indicate if the complainant(s)is or is not seeking an oral hearing and, if so, the complainant’s preferred location for hearing.

Names, Signatures and Contact Information

The complainant must provide his or her name, address, telephone number, and email address and sign the complaint. An attorney or representative of the complainant must provide his or her name, address, telephone number and email address and sign the complaint. Please consult the Commission’s rules for practice and appearance before the Commission, 46 C.F.R. 502, Subpart B.

Verification

The complaint must be signed before a notary public, commissioner, or other person authorized to take affidavits in accordance with 46 C.F.R. 502.6.

Notice of Appearance

The complainant must inform the Commission of the name, address and contact information for the person or persons who will represent them in the complaint proceeding. This requirement applies to attorneys and people who are representing themselves or their company. This should be submitted as a separate filing from the complaint and should be in accordance with 46 C.F.R. 502.23.