Maritime

Overview

BakerHostetler has an edge over its competitors because we seamlessly combine our astute litigation skills with our in-depth understanding of the maritime, transportation, and oil and gas industries. Clients value our desire to understand not just the legal issues involved but the practical business issues that they are facing as well.

Our maritime team members include a United States Coast Guard Academy graduate who qualified as Officer of the Deck of a 270' Famous Class cutter (WMEC), and a former member of the Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps who is also a Proctor Member of the Maritime Law Association and Adjunct Professor of Maritime Law at the University of Houston Law Center.

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Natural Disaster Advice and Litigation

Companies engaged in offshore exploration, production and transportation operations routinely encounter issues controlled by maritime law – when negotiating contracts, during the performance of contracts, and in the event a loss occurs. We have represented clients in complex maritime litigation since 1929 in courts across the U.S., including courts in California, Florida, Louisiana, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas. Our matters have included collisions and allisions, cargo claims, injuries and deaths, Rule C arrests to enforce mortgages and foreclose maritime liens, Rule B writs of foreign attachment, Rule D petitory actions, and an assertion of force majeure following the Deep Water Horizon losses. We also represent offshore operators, drillers, and construction and service companies in a variety of other matters.

Regulatory Compliance and Business Advice

Our maritime team has comprehensive knowledge of the specific laws and regulations pertaining to maritime operations, including coastwise requirements of the Jones Act, the Cabotage laws, the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, and the vessel reporting and clearance requirements of U.S. customs regulations. We frequently advise clients regarding business and compliance issues in order to minimize future risk of litigation.

Vessel Construction and Purchase Contracts

We have represented clients in the construction, financing and purchase of U.S.- and foreign-flagged yachts and commercial vessels.

Select Experience

  • Defended a client in connection with wrongful death and personal injury cases arising out of four deaths and six personal injuries on a liftboat being used in the Bay of Campeche to support seismic operations.
  • Represented a client in connection with a breach of contract claim against an operator under an Offshore Daywork Drilling Contract purporting to declare force majeure following the Deepwater Horizon incident.
  • Advised a super-major integrated oil and gas company in connection with a claim by a vessel operator of tankers seeking indemnity on claims for asbestos and other delayed-onset injuries arising under Contracts of Affreightment in place from 1938-1994.
  • Successfully secured the release of a client’s funds from a Rule B Writ of Foreign Attachment. See Milestone Shipping S.A. v. Estech Trading LLC, 811 F.Supp.2d 915, 2011 A.M.C. 2450 (S.D.N.Y. 2011).
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Experience

  • Defended a client in connection with wrongful death and personal injury cases arising out of four deaths and six personal injuries on a liftboat being used in the Bay of Campeche to support seismic operations.
  • Represented a client in connection with a breach of contract claim against an operator under an Offshore Daywork Drilling Contract purporting to declare force majeure following the Deepwater Horizon incident.
  • Advised a super-major integrated oil and gas company in connection with a claim by a vessel operator of tankers seeking indemnity on claims for asbestos and other delayed-onset injuries arising under Contracts of Affreightment in place from 1938-1994.
  • Successfully secured the release of a client’s funds from a Rule B Writ of Foreign Attachment. See Milestone Shipping S.A. v. Estech Trading LLC, 811 F.Supp.2d 915, 2011 A.M.C. 2450 (S.D.N.Y. 2011).
  • Successfully represented a number of mortgagees in actions to foreclose First Preferred Ship Mortgages against vessels and recover deficiency judgments, including the United States Lines bankruptcy in the case of the “missing zeros.”
  • Represented an offshore pipeline operator whose pipeline was damaged when a jack-up rig was destroyed in a hurricane, causing the rig’s legs to fall to the sea floor on top of the pipeline. When the rig operator refused to pay the costs of removal of the legs and repair the pipeline, we sued the rig operator, relying largely on the Oil Pollution Act of 1990.
  • Advised a super-major integrated oil company on its response to a threat by environmental activists to disrupt drilling operations in the Chukchi Sea during the short drilling window in which the area is free of ice. We helped the client protect operations without exposing itself to tort claims or accusations of criminal assault by the activists, based on long-standing principles of maritime law in conjunction with modern remedies available to the client. See also James C. Winton & Justin T. Scott, Defending Arctic Drilling Operations Against Environmentalist Pirates, 39 Tulane Maritime Law Journal 85 (2014).
  • Defended a client against a cargo claim following the loss of a feeder vessel in a typhoon in the Bay of Bengal.

Recognition

  • Chambers USA: Litigation: General Commercial
    • Ohio (2007 to 2018)
      • Band 2
    • Recognized Practitioner in Florida (2014 to 2018)
  • Recognized as one of the top law firms for client service, we were named to the 2018 BTI Client Service 30 for the fourth consecutive year.
  • U.S. News - Best Lawyers "Best Law Firms" Admiralty & Maritime Law (2016)
    • National Tier 3
    • Metro Houston, Tier 2
  • The Best Lawyers in America© (2016)
    • 1 lawyer named in Admiralty & Maritime Law

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