Thanks for referring us to the article, first of all. Sue and Labor clauses in most property policies, huh? Where? It’s a common Maritime policy clause, but not so common on most property policies, as the article suggests. I guess any port in a storm when looking for some money to pay for a potential Y2K disaster when you forgot to look at the calendar, though, huh?
As far as the fictitious captain “jettisoning” his fictitious cargo, as both Sassy and jti noted, there is quite a paper trail when it comes to “dumb cargo” (so-called as once it leaves the shipper’s hands, it is incapable of caring for itself and relies on others until it reaches its final destination). The shipper generates documents, which include purchase and quantity information, as well as a good description of what was sent (to protect the shipper). The trucker who picks up the goods generates more paperwork, describing what it is he’s picking up, where he picked it up, what it is, how much it weighs, and where he’s taking it (along with a log that shows his route). The next person to lay hands on the merchandise is a stevedore, unless it goes into a warehouse (yep, more paperwork…more identification), who generates the same type of information the trucker has generated. Oh, and all parties note the condition of the goods…if there’s been damage, this is why the paper trail is necessary…whodunit.
When the stevedore loads the goods (now called “cargo”) on the ship, another paper trail is generated, including placement of the load on the vessel. While this may seem unnecessary to some, it is vital if the ship runs into any sort of trouble, including the mentioned storms, as well as the possibility of trouble with the vessel (sinking, stranding, etc.), or barratry of the master (the ship’s crew hasn’t been paid by the shipowners and decides to hold the cargo hostage…don’t laugh; it’s happened).
Placement of the cargo belowdecks is logically the safest place for the cargo because it won’t be exposed to winds, rains, or high seas. Of course, if the ship starts to sink, this isn’t necessarily the best place to have the cargo stowed, but that’s a rarity nowadays.
Now, if a storm suddenly erupts, and, in order to save the ship and the cargo belowdecks, the safest course of action is to get rid of the top-heavy cargo on deck, be assured all onboard who did not drown are as glad to get rid of it as the insurance companies (note the plural…all the companies insuring the vessel and the various items of cargo get together and share in the cost to get rid of AND replace the tossed cargo).
As far as saying cargo was loaded and lost when it was, in fact, never loaded, do you see now how impossible it would be to accomplish this fete? If not, keep in mind that most seamen are paid really low salaries. Just about any insurance investigator with a $100 bill…or even a good, rare steak…can get the truth out of these guys.
“There will always be somebody who’s never read a book who’ll know twice what you know.” - D.Duchovny