Overview

Our Admiralty & Maritime group represents carriers and shippers before state and federal courts and agencies, and drafts and negotiates maritime contracts. We participate in workshops and meetings to address international maritime policy arranged by the Maritime Transport Committee of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Comité Maritime International. Our group has earned national recognition in the “Best Law Firms” rankings released by U.S. News and Best Lawyers.

Representative Services

In addition to handling toxic tort litigation for more than 200 shipowners across the United States, we are experienced in a wide variety of admiralty matters including:

  • Jones Act and other personal injury defense
  • Hull and cargo damage
  • Collisions and allisions
  • Charter parties
  • Contracts of affreightment
  • Marine insurance
  • Float agreements
  • Environmental
  • Vessel documentation and financing
  • General average
  • Coast Guard matters
Experience

Illustrative examples of our experience include:

  • Successfully managing tens of thousands of asbestos claims filed against more than 200 shipowner defendants in federal court, including management of cases following transfer to MDL court. Representation included analyzing and drafting thousands of dispositive motions, resulting in thousands of claim dismissals.
  • Negotiating vessel sales, purchases and charters and securing financing, including first preferred ship mortgages, and handling vessel documentation matters.
  • Advising clients on matters relative to maritime statutes and laws, including cargo liability governed by the U.S. Carriage of Goods by Sea Act (COGSA) and the coastwise trades regulated under the Jones Act.
  • Obtaining a decision for a shipowner from the en banc Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, in which the court held that seamen cannot recover for heart attack due to work-related stress.
  • Obtaining decisions for shipowners from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, in which the court held that, as a matter of law, seamen cannot recover punitive damages from a shipowner-employer under the Jones Act or for unseaworthiness.
  • Playing an instrumental role in obtaining partial deregulation of the U.S. international ocean liner industry through adoption of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 1998 (OSRA) and participating in every Federal Maritime Commission rulemaking proceeding related to its implementation. Consequently, we are known throughout the nation for our work with respect to U.S. regulation of the ocean liner industry.
  • Obtaining a precedent-setting opinion from the Washington Court of Appeals affecting more than a thousand maritime asbestos cases, which established that a survival claim for a seaman’s asbestos-related injuries may be time-barred even though it is combined with a timely filed wrongful death claim.
  • Obtaining a decision for a shipowner from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, in which the court held that the dock owner was obligated to indemnify the shipowner for the death of a seaman who fell from the dock, notwithstanding shipowner negligence that contributed to the fall.
  • Obtaining a decision for a shipowner from the Ohio Court of Appeals, in which the court vacated a $1.8 million personal injury verdict as excessive due to the passion and prejudice of the jury.
  • Obtaining a satisfactory resolution for a shipowner in negotiations with the U.S. Department of Justice involving a $3.5 million claim for oil pollution cleanup expenses from a sunken vessel.
  • Working with shipowners and environmental experts to develop model program for compliance with EPA’s Vessel General Permit.
  • Obtaining a jury verdict for a shipowner in a case involving a seaman’s claim of a career-ending back injury.
  • Securing jury verdicts in favor of shipowners in state and federal court trials in Wisconsin and Michigan involving cases in which the plaintiffs alleged career-ending injuries.
  • Obtaining a trial court decision and award in favor of a Great Lakes shipowner in connection with a grounding that resulted from the negligence of another vessel.
  • Persuading a state environmental agency to drop all charges of wrongdoing against a shipowner in an enforcement proceeding.
  • Representing several shipowners in connection with U.S. Coast Guard investigations related to alleged wrongful discharge, resulting in no actions against the shipowners.
  • Obtaining dismissal of all charges against the captain of a Great Lakes freighter in an action alleging violations of the Inland Navigation Rules (COLREGS).
  • Representing a large chemical company in connection with the construction and financing of a new fleet of barges to be operated on the Western Rivers.
  • Representing a lender in connection with financing and a preferred ship mortgage on a new luxury motor yacht.