Transport: shipping - litigation in United States

Blank Rome LLP

Blank Rome LLP represents owners, operators, shipyards, charterers, cargo interests, P&I clubs, banks, and funds on a range of complex litigation and maritime arbitration cases; the team regularly handles bankruptcy cases, maritime casualties, collisions, coverage disputes, and criminal cases in the shipping industry. In the Houston office, Michael Bell and Douglas Shoemaker represented OSG Lightering in a contractual-indemnity dispute that emerged after an 80-ton crane toppled at a T&T Marine offshore dock on Pelican Island in Galveston, Texas, killing two. Additionally, Shoemaker, Keith Letourneau and Jeremy Herschaft represented Valero in a claim involving damage caused by a collision with a dock and mooring system on the Mississippi River. In New York, department head John Kimball is representing Odyssey Marine in a dispute with the UK government, through the Department for Transport, in connection with a cargo of silver discovered onboard the SS Mantola, a British ship that sank during World War I. Further, William Bennett and of counsel Lauren Wilgus represented Zodiac Maritime in a cargo loss case. Associate Jay Huffman, Thomas Belknap and Richard Singleton, who represented Monjasa on a marine fuel contamination issues, are also key contacts in New York. Philadelphia-based Jeffrey Moller is also recommended.

Freehill Hogan & Mahar LLP

The ‘excellent’ New York-based team at Freehill Hogan & Mahar LLP represents leading insurers, international shipowners, P&I Clubs, domestic marine operators and ferry and cruise boat operators in a range of contentious cases involving major casualties, personal injury claims and criminal matters. Michael Unger represented Panamax International in a $100m arbitration claim involving an oil spill that occurred during cargo discharge operations at a single point mooring in Quintero, Chile; Don Murnane represented Koyo Kaiun Co in arbitration concerning demurrage claims arising out of three vessel charters; John Walsh defended Maersk Line in a $1m employment dispute; and Wayne Meehan represented the owners and insurers of the M/V Courage on a $50m dispute stemming from a fire that occurred while the car carrier was sailing from Bremerhaven to Southampton in June 2015. Other key figures include William Pallas, Peter Gutowksi, Eric Matheson, John Karpousis, Gina Venezia and of counsel Mark Muller. The team is led by managing partner William Juska. Jan Gisholt joined Skuld North America in 2019.

K&L Gates

K&L Gates stands out for its ‘unique ability to give excellent on-point guidance, not just what a client would like to hear’. It handles a range of litigation and arbitration in the maritime sector, with expertise across environmental claims, arrests, piracy, vessel seizures, cargo claims, collisions, groundings, personal injury matters and marine insurance claims, as well as charterparty, bill of lading, and other contractual disputes. Jeffrey King in Boston is representing Tote in relation to the sinking of the SS El Faro, a US-flagged combination roll-on/roll-off container vessel, which occurred while en route from Jacksonville, Florida to San Juan, Puerto Rico, where 33 crewmembers, all cargo, and the vessel were lost. King is also representing Ripley Entertainment in a matter concerning the sinking of a duck boat on Table Rock Lake in Branson, Missouri in 2018, which resulted in 17 deaths and numerous injuries. Of counsel Jorge Romero in Washington DC, Christina Paul in Miami and counsel Luke Reid in Boston are key figures. Associate George Kontakis in New York is also recommended. Steven Sparling heads the practice group and is based across the firm’s Washington DC and Houston offices.

Clyde & Co LLP

The ‘super knowledgeable’ team at Clyde & Co LLP is commended for its ability to handle cross-border disputes for domestic and international shipping companies, commodities trading firms and their insurers. Also of note it the team's ‘knowledge of the London market, which is second-to-none’. The practice group handles an array of shipping disputes involving liability, cargo, pollution, sanctions, insolvency, war risk, loss of earnings and environmental claims. In New York, John Keough advised Diamond S Management and its P&I Club in successfully releasing the M/V Atlantic Lily from arrest, and also handled related charterparty disputes and US sanctions issues. Also in New York, John Woods advised various London underwriters on alleged losses by theft in warehouses and tank farms in Germany, China and Morocco. Woods also defended Water Quality Insurance Syndicate (WQIS) in a high-profile claim brought by the excess liability insurers, regarding a collision which occurred in the lower Mississippi River between a tanker and a fully loaded oil barge in 2008. Conte Cicala in San Francisco and senior counsel Corey Greenwald in New York are also key figures. Joseph Walsh joined Collier Walsh LLP in 2018.

Cozen O'Connor

Cozen O'Connor handles a range of maritime sector disputes including casualty, personal injury and environmental claims, as well as charterparty and contractual disputes. Coverage disputes are also a key area of expertise. Based in the New York office, David Loh, Christopher Raleigh and Christopher Kende are key contacts.

Jones Walker LLP

Jones Walker LLP handles a broad range of maritime disputes, with experience across vessel collisions, liability, cargo damage, environmental and personal injury claims, as well as commercial disputes such as contract, insurance and charterparty disputes. Etienne Balart is representing Gulf Marine Fabricators (a subsidiary of Gulf Island Fabrication) in a $34m breach of contract case involving the construction of an offshore jacket. Elsewhere, Douglas Longman in Lafayette and Grady Hurley represented Tesla Offshore on a $10m indemnity dispute. Robert Lemon and William Wynne are also key figures in the team, which is jointly led by Hurley, Scott Jenkins and Jefferson Tillery. Named lawyers are based in New Orleans unless stated otherwise.

Winston & Strawn LLP

Winston & Strawn LLP has ‘good experience in dealing with maritime law’ and is praised for its ‘great depth of knowledge and experience’. In particular, the team is noted for its experience of contractual and regulatory mandates. Standout work for department head Charlie Papavizas included representing the American Petroleum Institute in litigation brought against US Customs and Border Protection agency by two US shipping and shipyard trade associations, examining the interpretation of the Jones Act; the client has become involved as a defendant in the case. Gerald Morrissey represented Santa Fe Discount Cruise Parking, at appeal, in a case involving discriminatory charging by the Galveston Port. Allen Black, Bryant Gardner and New York-based associate Brooke Shapiro are also recommended. Named lawyers are based in Washington DC unless indicated otherwise

King & Spalding LLP

The marine litigation team at King & Spalding LLP handles disputes for container shipping lines, shipping agencies, marine terminal operators, and trucking, warehousing and transportation and logistics companies. Joseph Akrotirianakis in Los Angeles represented Everport Terminal Services (ETS) in several disputes, including a case brought before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Division of Judges, alleging that ETS had unlawfully displaced one union in favor of another when it assumed operations of its terminal in the Port of Oakland. Total Terminals International and UPS are also clients. Houston-based Andrew Stakelum and counsel Troy McMahan in San Francisco are other key figures.