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Significant Representations

The following is a synopsis of some of the significant representations on which our attorneys have been engaged over the years:

 

  • Collision between the tanker “Robert Watt Miller” and the Dredge “Alaska” in the St. John's River (1975) - The collision resulted in multiple wrongful death and personal injury claims, significant hull losses to both vessels, loss of use claims and a complex series of cross-claims and third party actions seeking recovery of medical expenses, maintenance and cure and the like.  The case was vigorously contested for over 22 years and resulted in no fewer than six written appellate decisions from the 5th and 11th Circuits.  Those decisions now constitute significant portions of the 11th Circuit’s controlling admiralty law.

 

  • Allision between the M/V “Summit Venture” and the Tampa Sunshine Skyway Bridge (1980) – Represented bridge owner (State of Florida) in defending against multiple death, personal injury and property damage claims and breaching shipowner’s limitation defense to recover damages for damage to bridge.

 

  • Collision between Connie M III, a 61 ft. Sport Fisherman, with a 28 ft. Run About Fisherman (1980) - Defended owner/underwriters in proceeding for exoneration from or limitation of liability against four personal injury and property damage claims.

 

  • Prop scar damage to seagrass beds in Niles Channel, Florida Keys (1981) – Represented contractor’s insurers with respect to claims asserted by United States and State of Florida in first case seeking damages for mechanical damage to seagrass beds caused by tugs transiting channel during construction of new bridges on the overseas highway linking mainland Florida to Key West.

 

  • Fire aboard Cruise Vessel Emerald Seas at Little Stirrup Cay, Bahamas (1985) – Represented owner conducting internal investigation of cause and origin of fire, and, analysis of fire fighting response.  Handled public hearings and investigations by U.S. Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board, as well as Bahamas Merchant Shipping Authority.  Supervised handling of personal injury claims, which all resolved without resort to litigation.

  • Grounding of the M/V “Wellwood” (1988) – On behalf of the shipowner, opposed the United States and the State of Florida in the first living coral reef damages and penalties case brought under The National Marine Sanctuaries Act.

 

  • Collision between Cruise Ship “Celebration” and the Cuban Flag Freighter, “Capitan San Luis” (1988) - In addition to civil litigation, the firm’s attorney defended the hearings conducted by the United States Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board, including court intervention finding the National Transportation Safety Board could not exercise jurisdiction over foreign flag vessels involved in a casualty outside of the United States.

 

  • Allision between M/V “Vanessa” (under tow) with Fifth Street Bridge, Port of Miami (1990) - Represented ship’s owners/underwriters on claims asserted between State of Florida (bridge owner), the tug operators and shipowners.

 

  • Fire aboard Cruise Ship “Sovereign of the Seas” (1991) – Represented shipowner in investigations and hearings conducted by Coast Guard, NTSB and Flag State, and led internal investigation to determine cause and origin of fire and analysis of fire fighting response.

 

  • Allision between pleasure craft and dredge pipeline (1991) – Represented dredging contractor defending 3 wrongful death and 1 personal injury claim asserted on behalf of occupants of private pleasure craft that collided with a dredge pipeline in the port of Miami.

 

  • Collision between a commercial work boat transiting the channel between St. Thomas and St. John with an unlit dingy (1991) - The personal injury and property damage claims against the work boat were defended in proceedings for exoneration from and limitation of liability.   

 

  • Allision between M/V “Rio Miami” and Second Avenue Bridge, Port of Miami (1992) - Defended towing company in action asserted on behalf of State of Florida (bridge owner), Miami-Dade County (bridge operator) and vessel owner for contact with drawbridge span.

 

  • Class Action for Unearned Wages (1992) – Defended major cruise line in class action for unearned wages, attorneys’ fees and punitive damages, finally determined by 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

 

  • Grounding of the “Captain Joe” and “Miss Necie” and their tows in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (1993) -- Defended dredging contractor in litigation asserted by the United States for fines, penalties and damages under The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Act.

 

  • Formation of cruise line (1996 – 1999) – Led the team of outside admiralty counsel working with management on matters necessary to start up and operate major brand cruise line.

 

  • Loss of the sailing vessel “Fantome” (1997) – Represented vessel’s owners against families’ claims arising out of loss of sailing cruise vessel and her crew of 31 in Hurricane Mitch.

 

  • Collision between two pleasure craft, “Merrymaker” and an unnamed vessel (1997) – Participated in defense of owner of a high performance vessel against 6 wrongful death and property damage actions.

 

  • Grounding of the M/V “Igloo Moon” (1997) - Represented owners and Underwriters with respect to salvage of butadiene carrier that, due to severe weather, constituted serious risk of toxic environmental event.  Advised during governmental response and catastrophe management, negotiations with salvors, and, defended action for fines, penalties and damages asserted on behalf of the United States under The National Parks Protection Act.

 

  • Fire aboard Cruise Vessel “Ecstasy” (1998) – Represented owners and led internal investigation to determine fire cause and origin and analysis of fire fighting response, and handled investigations by Coast Guard and NTSB.

 

  • Damage to seagrass beds and mangrove woodlands at Port St. Lucie (1998 - 1999) - Represented dredging contractor against environmental damage claims asserted by United States, State of Florida and Martin County with respect to alleged adverse environmental impacts during beach restoration project.

 

  • Grounding of Cruise Vessel “Monarch of the Seas” in St. Maartin (1998) - Represented owners with respect to salvage and repairs, led investigation to determine cause of grounding, and defended against claim by government for environmental damages to coral reef.

 

  • Channel embarrassment between Cruise Ship “Sensation” and an Integrated Tug and Barge “Navigator/Ocean 250” (1999) - Represented owners/underwriters of the cruise vessel in U.S. Coast Guard investigation and defended property damage claim arising by reason of ITB grounding in close quarters overtaking situation.

 

  • Formation of fast ferry service (2000) - Served as admiralty counsel to form fast ferry passenger service between east coast of Florida and Bahamas.

 

  • Collision of High-Speed Ferry “Atlantis” with pleasure craft (2001) – Defended owners/underwriters in severe personal injury/wrongful death actions, including claims for property damage.

 

  • Collision between Cruise Vessel “Norwegian Dream” and M/V “Ever Decent” in English Channel (2000) - Represented owners of cruise line defending U.S. actions brought by passengers and assisting with defense of actions in U.K. courts by other adverse interests.

 

  • Capsize of tour vessel “Panther I” (2003) – Represented vessel owner against claims asserted by 36 passengers and crew, as well as, defended during investigations and hearings conducted by U.S. Coast Guard and NTSB. 

 

  • Alleged reef damage occurring off coast of Florida during dredging of Hillsboro Inlet (2003) - Represented dredging contractor, tow operators and Underwriters defending claims for fines, penalties, restoration and damages asserted by State of Florida and Hillsboro Inlet District.

 

  • Cruise vessel “Norwegian Sky” radical turn due to integrated bridge navigation and steering system malfunction, causing injuries to 77 passengers and crew, and property damage (2004) – Defended major cruise line and officer of watch against Coast Guard prosecution for fines and penalties by reason of alleged breach of watch keeping standards and post casualty reporting regulations. 

 

  • Purchase of day-cruise fleet (2005) – Represented lender in transaction effecting purchase of 11 vessel fleet and financing by lender.

 

  • Claim for insurance coverage relating to alleged violations of statutes governing discharge of pollutants from ships (2006) – Represented major brand cruise line to conduct internal investigations of fleets’ handling of waste streams, including black water, grey water, and bilge water, and coordinated with Norwegian counsel to successfully arbitrate against P&I Club in Norway to recover amounts paid for fines and penalties imposed by United States, as well as, defense fees and costs. 

 

  • Petitory and Possessory actions to obtain telecommunications equipment (2005 – 2007) - Lead counsel to recover satellite based communications systems in the course of bankruptcy proceedings filed in numerous foreign jurisdictions and the United States by two cruise lines.

 

  • Retained as special admiralty counsel to represent interests of financial institution having preferred ships mortgages in the course of bankruptcy proceedings in the matter of a 3 vessel cruise line (2005) - Assignment included the management of the defense against 147 personal injury claims, 450+ commercial maritime lien claims, and claims of numerous unsecured creditors, as well as seeking recoveries related to various hull and machinery damage/loss claims, vessels’ sales and vessels’ title issues. 

 

  • Product liability claim against mega yacht manufacturer and insurers allegedly resulting in damages exceeding $1.8MM (2006) – Defended manufacturer and insurers against owner’s claims. 

 

  • Alleged reef damage occurring in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary during dredging operations to deepen Key West ship channel and harbor (2007) – Represented dredging contractor and insurers defending claims for fines, penalties, restoration and damages asserted by Sanctuary (federal) and State of Florida.

 

  • Class Action for earned wages and penalties (2007) – Advised major cruise line on legal defense of class action seeking earned wages across a class of 25,000 positions and seeking penalties in excess of $1BB. 

 

  • Sinking of Barge ZT 202 blocking Miami River Ship channel for 5 days (2008) – represented dredging contractor and insurers with respect to salvage and disposal of barge as artificial reef, disposal of unexploded ordinance, and, interactions with Corps of Engineers, Coast Guard and Department of Environmental Management in regard to foregoing, and, defending third party claims seeking damages and demurrage by reason of inability to transit channel.

 

  • Major Marina fire resulting in total loss of two mega-yachts and damage to 13 other yachts and marina property (2008) – Represented Marina and insurers against third party claims by yacht owners and subrogated underwriters, and, against claims relating to environmental insults occurring during fire, fire suppression efforts, post fire monitoring and security, and subsequent clean up.

 

  • Formation and financing of treasure salvor operation (2008) – Represented hedge fund with respect to capitalization and financing of treasure salvage venture in Caribbean.

 

  • Claims against Letters of Credit (2010) – Represented issuers of letters of credit against various alleged beneficiaries on international shipments where fraud was alleged.

 

  • Investigation of corporate management (2010) - Engaged to associate with Indiana law firm to investigate various claims and defenses in action asserted by minority shareholders against corporate management and to enforce shareholders’ agreement.

 

  • Domestication of Foreign Judgment (2010) – Engaged by financial institution to associate with Illinois counsel to domesticate foreign judgment in county of judgment creditor’s residence.

 

  • Stranding and subsequent sinking of Barge “Mobro 1600” outside the Panama Canal (2010) – Defended and resolved a wide range of claims including salvage claims, first and third party insurance claims, multi-country contract disputes and the resolution of a series of litigation and arbitration claims filed in the Republic of Panama.

 

  • Yacht grounding in National Park (2011) – Represented yacht owner/operator in respect to various notices of violation and claims for fines, penalties and damages issued by National Park Service in regard to grounding allegedly impacting living corals and seagrasses.

 

  • Fleet Financing (2011) – Engaged by financial institution to search titles, draw various loan documents, including loan and security agreements, notes, vessel mortgages, personal guarantees, accomplish satisfaction of outstanding liens and mortgage interests, and close transactions, to finance fleet of day/dinner cruise and fishing charter vessels, and effect recording of various vessel mortgages.

 

  • Employment action by National Park Service (2011) – Represented park ranger against employer in regard to alleged misconduct.

 

  • Insurance coverage re: commercial transactions (2011) – Retained by financial institution to provide counsel in regard to insurance coverage for alleged liabilities relating to letters of credit, confirmed purchase order financing, transactions on debit accounts, etc.

 

  • Collapse of crane resulting in death of crane operator during the dismantling of a gantry crane at Port of Jacksonville (2011) – Defended wrongful death litigation and asserted property damage claims effecting recovery of extensive damages against a series of insurers-including dismissal of insurers’ Federal Declaratory Judgment Action.

 

  • Contracts for Dockage of Yachts (2011 – Retained by various marina operators to draft set of form contracts for dockage of yachts.

 

  • Internal investigation of financial institution’s letter of credit program (2012) – Associated by financial institution’s law firm to participate in internal investigation of international letter of credit program.

 

  • Creation of Cruise Line to service coastwise India itinerary (2012) – Engaged to associate with law firm providing general counsel in exploring creation of cruise line to service coastwise itinerary by foreign flag vessel.

 

  • Sale of Fast Ferry (2012) – Associated as special maritime counsel, working with Illinois law firm, to negotiate and conclude sale of fast ferry.

 

  • Creation of premium financing form contract and develop program for collection of defaulted contracts (2013) – Worked with premium finance company to develop form financing agreement and to collect on defaulted contracts and obtain reimbursement of unearned premiums from various insurers.  Also participated in closing of arrangements with lender on line of credit. 

 

  • Advices to shipboard concessionaire (2013) – Provided counsel to concessionaire in regard to relationships with shipowners, insurance coverages, crew contracts and employment policies, and liaisons with local counsel in Caribbean.

 

  • Claims for Dishonor of Letter of Credit (2013) – Retained by Bank to (a) obtain insurance coverage under first party policy, and, (2) defend Bank against claim alleging wrongful dishonor of letter of credit.  Insurer ultimately paid for defense and case determined on summary judgment by district court and affirmed with opinion in 11th Circuit Court of Appeal, with substantial recovery of attorneys’ fees, expenses and costs for Bank (and subrogated insurer) as prevailing party. 

 

  • Mediation of lawsuit between yacht manufacturer and buyer (2013) – Served as court appointed mediator pursuant to agreement of parties in dispute between manufacturer and buyer/owner.

 

  • Advices to marine telecommunications provider (2013) – Engaged to work with and advise provider of satellite communications to shipowners in regard to corporate structures, legal nature of products and services, maritime lien issues, and other legal issues arising in the course of business.

 

  • Dispute between logistics providers (2013) – Represented provider of logistics to facilitate sale and delivery of cargo from China to United States seeking to recover based on misdelivery of cargo.

 

  • Yacht fire (2013) – Represented yacht owner against marine contractors where fire arose by reason of defective materials or improper workmanship. 

 

  • Contract dispute between passenger and cruise line as to alleged agreement to sell single diamond stone valued at greater than $5MM (2013) – Represented vendor of fine jewelry in dispute among passenger, cruise line and vendor with respect to claim that passenger bought $5MM stone at very low price.

 

  • Workers’ Comp Classification of Tunnel Workers (2014) – Represented contractor constructing tunnel to connect Port of Miami with mainland road system to invoke application of Florida’s Workers’ Compensation Statutes to workers’ claims for injury and death, defeating claims for benefits under the federal Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.

 

  • Recovery on “Washed” and Fraudulently Drawn Checks (2014) – Retained by Payor Bank to obtain insurance coverage for losses sustained by payment on presentment of “washed” and fraudulently drawn checks, and, provided advices seeking recovery of uninsured losses in litigation against Depository Bank.

 

  • Arbitration of Commercial Contract Dispute (2014) – Represented provider of financial and tax advisory services in a dispute regarding the validity of its contract and entitlement to be paid compensation called for by contract.

 

  • Consultation with New Marina Management Entity (2014) -- Consulted with Marina Operator on various operational aspects, insurance coverages, environmental compliance, and the like, and created form agreements for various dockage arrangements and vendor relationships.

 

  • Consultation and Litigation re: Defaults on Various Dockage Agreements (2015) – Represented Marina Manager with respect to various defaults by yacht owners under dockage agreements and resolution of disputes through settlements or judicial proceedings, including actions for trespass and dispossession, etc.

 

  • Financial Institution Appraisal Proceeding (2015) – Represented financial institution against dissenting shareholders in a dispute regarding the value of the merged bank and the attendant fair market value of the shares.

 

  • Import and Sale of Yacht (2015) – Assisted yacht owner with importation and sale of foreign built yacht, where buyer sought Florida registry. 

 

  • Class Action, Account Charges re: Debit Transaction Reordering – Appointed by Bank to seek and obtain insurance coverage for defense of class action seeking recovery of allegedly improper account charges to customers based on re-ordering of debit transactions on customer accounts.  Also, coordinated with principal counsel enforcing arbitration provision and arbitrating merits as to singular customer resulting in arbitral denial of claim and dismissal of class action.

 

  • Salvage and Damage Sustained by Yacht Due to Fire (2015) – Represented yacht owner with respect to presenting claims for damage to yacht to first party insurers and liaising with insurers’ counsel with respect to defense of salvage claims.

 

  • Crew Member Severe Personal Injury (2016) – Served as consulting expert witness with respect to various issues relating to crewmember’s rights to maintenance-cure-unearned wages and conflicts of laws issues as to borrowed servant doctrine.

 

  • Theft and “joyride” of 82’ multi million dollar motor yacht resulting in total loss of the yacht and damage to and destruction of numerous other yachts in marina and marina property (2016) -- Represented Marina on adjustment of breakwater and dock damage claims with insurer, asserted claims against offending yacht and its owner for recovery of damages to marina property and loss of revenues, and participated in defense of third-party claims by owners whose yachts were damaged or destroyed against both marina and security service.

 

  • Mega Yacht Management Agreement and Crew Consulting Agreement (2017) – Advised Bahamian Resort Owner as to management of U.S. Flag vessel operating in Bahamas waters with respect to hiring yacht management company and crew members. 

 

  • Create forms for Vessel Financing – Developed Lender’s loan documentation forms for financing vessel purchases of U.S. documented vessels and Florida registered vachts. 

 

  • Bareboat Charter Arrangements (2017) – Represented owner of mega-yacht to charter vessel for purposes of conducting on-the-water photo shoot of mega star singer-songwriter famous for her country and pop recordings.

 

  • Credit Insurance Claim and Setting Up Program (2017) – Provided advices to Financial Institution with respect to preparing claims under credit insurance policies and securing future credit insurance for international purchases of products for delivery in United States.

 

  • Renewal of Lease Under Option (2017) – Retained by Bank to initiate arbitration proceedings in order to enforce lease renewal option and to negotiate terms and conditions of renewal. 

 

  • Standard forms of long term and transient agreements for dockage of yachts (2017) – Retained by operator of newly constructed marina to devise form dockage agreements and set of rules and regulations.

 

  • Bid by Marina Manager to Operate City Owned Marina (2018) – Consulted with Marina Manager bidding to manage and operate City owned marina on handling opposition to bid by competitors and current manager seeking.

 

  • Hurricane Irma Damages and Claims (2017):

-- Represented Port Authority with respect to extensive/complex property damages involving Port-owned warehouses, damages to contents of warehouses, and loss of use claims.  Representation involved dealing with multiple underwriters, governmental agencies, FEMA, and lessees requiring construction of multiple lease agreements, insuring agreements, and tariffs.

-- Represented Yacht Club in disputes arising by reason of storm where 103’ yacht broke free of the dock, traversed waterway on wind and tide, and came to rest damaging property of waterway land owner.  Representation included handling of salvage, and, litigation involving salvor, land owner and government where yacht owner fled country in face of governmental investigation of pyramid scheme, abandoned yacht and other property at yacht club, and forfeited membership.

  • Standard forms of agreements for seasonal and transient dockage (2017) – Retained by yacht club to set up dockage agreements whereby member’s slips are licensed to non-members.

 

  • Creation of Cruise Line (2017) – Consulted as co-counsel with respect to setting up new cruise line for major brand in regard to international registry, U.S. Coast Guard Port State Control, SOLAS compliance, STCWS compliance, manning requirements, MLC compliance, insurance coverages, vendor agreements, passenger ticket contracts, crew contracts, etc.

 

  • Yacht financing, purchase/sale transaction (2017) – Represented lender and prepared loan documentation re: financing purchase of yacht from charitable organization.

 

  • Standard forms of agreements for 5 marinas (2018) – Consulted with operator(s) of marinas, existing or under development in 4 states, and set up standard forms of agreements for long term, seasonal, and transient dockage, as well as landing licenses, and crafted rules and regulations unique to each marina.

 

  • Foreclosure involving commercial realty as collateral (2018) -- Represented Financial Institution in multiple litigations by and against individual and affiliated corporate borrowers (1) to collect on note and foreclose mortgage against commercial property upon default on line of credit, (2) defended various related lawsuits by individual borrower against Financial Institution in state and federal courts seeking to avoid and delay foreclosure by asserting violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Federal Trade Commission Act, the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act and the Truth in Lending Act, and (3) defended suit by corporate borrower seeking damages for wrongful impairment or conversion of collateral securing separate corporate line of credit.

 

  • Appointed as Mediator (2017 and 2018) to conduct Mediations of vessel purchase and sale and vessel charter disputes.

 

  • Insurance Claim by Boat Repair Yard (2018) – Pursued Repair Yard’s claim against insurer seeking costs of defense and indemnity for Yard’s damages arising by reason of insurer’s refusal to defend Repair Yard from yacht owner’s claims against Yard for loss of yacht.

 

  • Appellate Determination of Florida’s Territorial Boundary, Florida State Court Jurisdiction and Application of State Law to the Exclusion of the Federal Death on the High Seas Act (2018) – Handled appeal of wrongful death case establishing Florida’s eastern boundary as defined by the Florida Constitution and application of Florida law within that boundary to the exclusion of the federal Death on the High Seas Act.

 

  • Cruise Ship Concessionaire Compliance with International Maritime Labor Code (2018) – Advised ship board concessionaire in regard to compliance with Maritime Labor Code, drafted form crew contract and assisted as counsel to obtain certification from Flag State Compliance.

 

  • Drowning Death of Minor in Cruise Ship Swimming Pool (2018) – Consulted on application of federal Death on High Seas Act to death occurring between 3 mile territorial sea and 12 mile contiguous zone off the New Jersey and New York coasts.

 

  • Dispute Between Personal Watercraft Vendors and Marinas (2018) – Represented Marina Operators/Managers in contract disputes with Personal Watercraft Vendors operating out of various marinas.