Admiralty and Maritime

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Our clients are involved in all facets of marine transportation in brown and blue water, such as oil and gas exploration, production, cargo transport and pleasure cruising, among others. These clients rely on us because of our experience across the full range of shipping matters, and they turn to us for help with matters associated with domestic and international shipping, offshore oil and gas exploration, drilling and production. We assist U.S. and foreign protection and indemnity clubs, insurance companies and full underwriters, comprehensive general liability underwriters, maritime and employers' liability underwriters, vessel owners and operators, maritime construction companies, domestic port and terminal operations and shipyards.

We have defended marine and energy clients in complex, multi-million dollar litigation resulting from Hurricane Katrina, including London-market underwriters, and protection, indemnity, hull and machinery underwriters. We helped an offshore drilling company defend against claims exceeding $80 million as a result of a riser separation incident, which were successfully settled with the participation of London-market underwriters, and we defended a foreign government-owned oil company against claims exceeding $150 million arising out of the sale of multiple gasoline shipments, brought before a New York arbitration panel.

Litigation

Our primary goal is to avoid litigation through regular review of claims, accurate accident reporting, investigation and notification procedures and, where possible, mediation. In cases where litigation is unavoidable, we represent our clients before regulatory, administrative and arbitral tribunals as well as state and federal courts. The scope of our practice includes:

  • Death and personal injury claims, including Jones Act and Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act
  • Property damage and product liability actions
  • Collisions, allisions, salvage and wreck removal
  • Oil and gas exploration and production casualties
  • Business interruption and loss claims
  • Towage and stevedore issues
  • Maritime liens and vessel seizures
  • Shipyard and vessel construction and repair disputes, including builder's risk issues
  • Pollution and environmental matters, including discharges and spills
  • Occupational exposure and disease claims
  • Cargo matters, including freight, demurrage and defense, COGSA claims and general average matters
  • Insurance and reinsurance coverage disputes
  • Charter party and contract of affreightment disputes
  • Regulatory and administrative issues, including those involving the Federal Maritime Commission, Maritime Administration, Minerals Management Service, National Transportation Safety Board, U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Transactions

We have extensive transactional experience in:

  • Negotiating and drafting contracts involving vessel sale agreements, vessel brokerage agreements, charter parties (time, voyage and bareboat), terminal agreements, towage contracts, bills of lading, contracts of affreightment, salvage agreements, and shipbuilding and ship repair contracts
  • Negotiating and drafting oilfield contracts, including master service agreements, helicopter flight agreements, platform boarding agreements, platform installation contracts, fabrication contracts and seismic related contracts
  • Marine finance, including sales and purchase contracts, financing agreements, including Title XI, preferred ship mortgages, and marine and energy-related bankruptcies
  • Assisting lenders, borrowers and others in offshore oilfield transactions including financing and operating rigs and offshore support vessels under U.S. and foreign flags as well as structuring transactions to accommodate applicable regulatory and tax laws

We are committed to the maritime industry, and are actively involved in numerous legal and maritime associations, including the Maritime Law Association, the American Bar Association, the World Trade Center, the Association of Average Adjusters of the United States, Women's International Shipping and Trading Association, Comité Maritime International and the National Marine Lenders Association, the Tulane Admiralty Law Institute and the Southeastern Admiralty Law Institute. Our attorneys have been routinely named in the area of maritime law by Best Lawyers in America since 2001 and in Chambers USA: America's Leading Business Lawyers, and several are past recipients of the prestigious Distinguished Maritime Lawyer Award given by the New Orleans Bar Association.

We offer multiple language skills and a domestic and international network of correspondent attorneys, and aim to provide clients with the objectives that best serve their business. When warranted, we call upon the experience of colleagues in other practice areas, such as insurance coverage, construction, environmental regulatory and litigation, general corporate and real estate, to give our clients the best possible representation. 

Representative Matters

  • Successfully defended four lawsuits, an ICC arbitration, and two appeals to the U.S. Fourth Circuit in securing confirmation of an international arbitral award on behalf of an international petroleum company. The victory not only resulted in the dismissal of more than $100 million in claims, but ordered reimbursement to the client of over $730,000 in attorneys' fees and arbitration costs.
  • Represented marine paint distributor in nationwide class action and in several other cases for alleged microbiologically influenced corrosion (MIC) involving approximately 3,000 barges.
  • Represented one of top ten domestic independent natural gas producers in multi-million dollar suit for vessel damage to platform.
  • Represented marine financing company in multi-million dollar hull and breach of warranty insurance coverage dispute.
  • Represented owners, hull and machinery underwriters and P&I Club of a passenger ship involved in a major collision with a bulk carrier at the mouth of the Mississippi River. Substantial hull, machinery and detention damages were sustained by the ships, numerous personal injuries and property damage claims were filed as a result of the collision, and a class action was asserted on behalf of the 1,200 passengers on board the cruise ship. The bulk carrier was found 90% at fault for the collision and the clients were awarded damages of approximately $12 million.
  • Represented European financial institution in a first preferred ship mortgage foreclosure action against two parcel tankers in Houston and New Orleans. Numerous competing liens arising under the laws of various foreign countries had to be defended. Client recovered proceeds in excess of $45 million from the public auction sale of both ships.
  • Represented a ship owner and P&I Club in a personal injury case involving a longshoreman who sustained crushing injuries when a cargo of zinc ingots collapsed on him during discharge operations. Substantial award to injured longshoreman was reversed on appeal and judgment was rendered in favor of the ship owner.
  • Represented vessel interests and their underwriters in claims against the Panama Canal Company, Panama Canal.
  • Represented the world's largest offshore drilling company in a claim brought by a major oil company arising out of a riser separation incident. Claims were in excess of $80 million and were successfully settled with the participation of various London market underwriters.
  • Represented a foreign government-owned oil company in a New York arbitration proceeding arising out of the sale of multiple shipments of gasoline. Claims asserted exceeded $150 million.
  • Represented large shipping company in 16 separate transactions totaling $40 million, involving the sale of U.S. Government Guaranteed Ship Financing Bonds.
  • Represented large shipping company in regard to a $18,680,000 public offering.