2005 Regular Session
To: Transportation; Marine Resources
By: Representative Patterson, Bentz, Guice, Janus, Zuber
AN ACT TO CREATE "THE ABANDONED VESSEL ON LAND ACT"; TO PROVIDE A PROCEDURE THAT ALLOWS A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER TO REMOVE ABANDONED VESSELS FROM PUBLIC AND PRIVATE LANDS; TO DEFINE "ABANDONED VESSELS" AND "DEALER"; TO PROVIDE A PROCEDURE FOR THE SALE OR DISPOSAL OF ABANDONED VESSELS; TO REQUIRE THAT THE STATUS OF A VESSEL BE DETERMINED BEFORE DISPOSITION OF THE VESSEL; TO REQUIRE NOTIFICATION OF THE REGISTERED OWNER AND LIENHOLDERS PRIOR TO THE DISPOSITION OF SUCH VESSEL; TO PROVIDE A REMEDY FOR ANY OWNER WHO CLAIMS A VESSEL PRIOR TO THE SALE OF SUCH VESSEL; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. This act shall be known as "The Abandoned Vessel on Land Act." The intent of this act is to provide a procedure for law enforcement officers to remove vessels that have been abandoned on public streets and highways or on the private land of others. This act does not remove or in anyway affect the authority of the Commission on Marine Resources to remove derelict or abandoned vessels from the coastal wetlands.
SECTION 2. The following words, as used in this act, shall have the following meaning:
(a) "Abandoned vessel" means any vessel as defined by the Mississippi Boating Law, Section 59-21-3(1):
(i) Which has been left by the owner, or some person acting for the owner, with a dealer, repairman or wrecker service for repair or for some other reason and has not been called for by such owner or other person within a period of thirty (30) days after the time agreed upon or within thirty (30) days after such vessel is turned over to such dealer, repairman or wrecker service when no time is agreed upon.
(ii) Which is left unattended on a public street, road or highway or other public property for a period of at least five (5) days.
(iii) Which has been lawfully towed onto the property of another at the written request of a law enforcement officer and left there for a period of not less than thirty (30) days without any one having made claim thereto.
(b) "Dealer" means any person engaged wholly or in part in the business of selling or offering for sale, buying or taking in trade for the purpose of resale, or exchanging, displaying, demonstrating or offering for sale vessels or motors, and who receive or expect to receive money, profit or any other thing of value.
SECTION 3. (1) Any dealer, wrecker service, or repair service owner, or any person or party on whose property a vessel is lawfully towed at the written request of a law enforcement officer, who shall have an abandoned vessel on his property, may sell, free and clear of all claims such vessel by public auction, or if the abandoned vessel has no market value, may dispose of the same after having received a written statement from a licensed dealer as to the worthlessness of such vessel and after compliance with subsection (2) of this section and Section 5 of this act. An abandoned vessel as defined by Section 5 of this act shall not be sold at auction until thirty (30) days from date of removal from a public street, road or highway.
(2) The person authorized to execute the sale or disposal of an abandoned vessel shall notify, within ten (10) days of receipt of such vessel, any Mississippi lienholder on such vessel that unless a claim on the vessel is made within thirty (30) days of such notice, the vessel will be sold or destroyed.
(3) After the sale of any vessel is made, the person or officer designated and making the sale of such property shall promptly upon completion of the sale deliver to the chancery clerk a list or itemization of the property sold, the amount paid for each item, the person to whom each item was sold, and all monies received from such sale, the gross charges levied by the person making the sale against the property sold and the net amount paid over to the chancery clerk. Any sale made by any person, officer, corporation or association, shall have attached to the report of sale a sworn statement certifying as to the date such personal property or items sold first came into his possession or was abandoned on his premises and the date said personal property or item was sold.
(4) The proceeds of the sale in excess of repair, towing and storage expenses and all expenses incurred in connection with a sale when a sale is made under the provisions of this act, shall escheat to the county and shall be paid over to the chancery clerk to be placed into the general fund of the county in which the vessel is abandoned. However, in those municipalities availing themselves of the provisions of Section 21-39-21, the proceeds of the sale in excess of the repairs, towing, storage or other necessary expenses incurred shall escheat to the general fund of the municipality.
SECTION 4. Prior to disposition of an abandoned vessel, any dealer, wrecker service or repair service owner, or any person on whose property a vessel is lawfully towed at the written request of a law enforcement officer, shall inquire of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks as to status of the vessel in regard to the Mississippi Boating Law of 1960. The inquiry shall provide the description of the vessel including the hull identification number. Upon request of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, satisfactory evidence must be furnished as to abandonment in compliance with this act. Upon receipt of notification of the foregoing, the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks shall advise any dealer, wrecker service or repair service owner, or any person on whose property such a vessel is lawfully towed at the written request of a law enforcement officer, of proper titling procedures, where indicated, depending upon method of disposition of the vessel.
SECTION 5. The last known registered owner of an abandoned vessel and all lienholders of record, when such information is reasonably obtainable, shall be notified by registered or certified mail that such vessel will be sold pursuant to the provisions of this act. The notice shall give the owner and lienholders the date, time and place of sale and name of the person or party who has custody of the vessel.
If the identity of the last registered owner cannot be determined, or if the registration contains no address for the owner, or if it is impossible to determine with reasonable certainty the identity and addresses of all lienholders, notice by three (3) publications once each week for three (3) consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the county where the vessel was abandoned shall be sufficient to meet all requirements of notice pursuant to this act.
SECTION 6. Any person proving ownership or any lienholder may claim the vessel at any time prior to sale by paying towing, repair, storage and other necessary expenses incurred.
SECTION 7. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2005.