Admiralty & Maritime

Milling Benson Woodward L.L.P. > Practice Areas > Admiralty & Maritime
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  • More than 500 years of combined legal experience.

  • Serving Louisiana business clients for more than 120 years.

Milling Benson Woodward has advised clients in the marine industry for over 100 years. At present, MBW attorneys have experience in most areas of admiralty and maritime law, including litigation, marine insurance, and transactional work:

Litigation

MBW attorneys have literally “covered the waterfront” on maritime litigation in both state and federal courts. This experience includes personal injury and death claims brought by seamen under the Jones Act;[1] marine workers under 905(b) and 933 of the Longshore Act;[2]  ship’s pilots, passengers and business invitees under the general maritime law,[3] including DOHSA;[4] workers on offshore oil & gas platforms under OCSLA;[5] recreational boat and inshore oil & gas platform workers under the Louisiana Civil Code;[6]   and, claims against classification societies allegedly caused by vessels, appurtenances, equipment and structures classed under those societies’ rules.

 

MBW attorneys are also experienced in litigation associated with marine property damage or economic loss including claims resulting from collisions,[7] allisions,[8] groundings, oyster lease damage, pollution, spills, sinkings, fires, barge breakaways, cargo damage, hull damage, engine damage, yacht damage, dock damage, products liability, pipeline damage, wake and wave-wash damage, salvage claims, and, claims based upon declarations of general average.[9] These types of claims often trigger legal issues unique to maritime law such as certain presumptions of fault,[10] a specific burden of proof for proximate cause,[11] defenses to damage claims,[12] limitations on the recovery of damages,[13] time-bars to claims,[14] and, the recovery of pre-judgment interest.[15]

 

Finally, MBW attorneys are familiar with the procedures and rules unique to maritime law. These include the Federal Supplemental Admiralty Rules,[16] several of which govern vessel arrests and/or seizures, both in rem and quasi in rem, as well as possessory actions; the Limitation of liability Act;[17] and, the ranking of maritime liens.[18]

 

Marine Insurance

A related practice issue arises from the marine insurance that provides the necessary coverage for marine liability and property damage. Most marine policies subject shipowners to the doctrine of uberrimae fides (a requirement of utmost good faith when seeking coverage) and certain implied warranties of seaworthiness owed by a shipowner that attach to coverage.

MBW attorneys consult, advise and litigate on coverage issues associated with P & I,[19] MGL,[20] MEL,[21]bumbershoot,[22] hull,[23] excess,[24] pollution,[25] and cargo insurance. This area of practice includes coverage opinions, coverage litigation, and consultation on insurance coverage forms, particularly manuscript forms as well as deletions or exclusions to Tug, Hull, excess and other traditional marine forms.

Transactional

MBW attorneys also advise on and draft a variety of marine agreements including time, bareboat and “Evergreen” charter agreements, contracts of affreightment, as well as marine and offshore indemnity agreements.

Marine Organizations

MBW attorneys are members of various marine organizations including the Maritime Law Society of the United States, the Association of Average Adjusters of the United States & Canada, the Southeastern Admiralty Law Institute, and, the Mariner’s Club of the Port of New Orleans.

If you are faced with a maritime claim, you need an attorney with experience defending admiralty cases. The maritime injury attorneys at Milling Benson Woodward L.L.P. have experience helping maritime businesses throughout LA protect themselves and limit their exposure in injury claims. Call us at or contact us online to arrange a consultation with an admiralty lawyer at our New Orleans office.

Attorneys

Name Phone Email Location
Collings, Chadwick 985-292-2004 ccollings@millinglaw.com Mandeville
Wilson, Andrew 985-292-2017 awilson@millinglaw.com Mandeville

Contact our LA admiralty attorneys to minimize your exposure in maritime cases.

[1] 46 U.S.C. § 30104 et seq. Such claims also include liability claims based upon a breach of the warranty of seaworthiness under the general maritime law, as well as the implied contract for maintenance (a daily stipend for living expenses) and cure (medical care to a point of maximum medical improvement) owed by shipowners to injured seamen.

[2] Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA), 33 USC 901, et seq.

[3] Includes Moragne wrongful death cause of action

[4] Death On The High seas Act, 46 U.S.C. §30302

[5] Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, 43 USC §1301, 1333

[6] La. Civ. Code art.’s 2315 and 2317

[7] COLREGS/Navigation Rules, 33 U.S.C. § 2001 – 2038, governing navigation on both International and Inland Waters of the United States.

[8] Defined as a moving vessel striking a fixed object such as a dock

[9] A concept original arising under ancient Rhodesian Law, but now governed by the York-Antwerp Rules, which allows a shipowner to bring claims for expenditures or loss of cargo resulting from a “peril” the ship has encountered against all those having an interest in the voyage based upon the value of their respective interests in the voyage.

[10] Although all these are certainly names of States, the Rules are actually named after the ships and the litigation they spawned: The Pennsylvania Rule requires a party guilty of a statutory violation to prove that the violation could not have been the cause of the subject accident; The Oregon Rule results in presumption of negligence when a ship strikes a known, stationary object; and, The Louisiana Rule results in a presumption of negligence where a drifting vessel strikes property and causes damage.

[11]The Supreme Court’s Olympic Towing decision defines “proximate cause” as, “that cause which in a direct, unbroken sequence produces the injury complained of and without which such injury would not have happened.” This differs from Common law tort causation which is based on the scope of the duty owed.

[12] E.g., “New for Old” (credit for repairs resulting in extension of useful life of property); Fleet Damage Rule (limitation on recovery of lost revenue where replacement ship available from fleet); Dominant Mind Rule (presumption of control and legal responsibility of tug over barges in tow when collision occurs).

[13] Rule of Robins Dry Dock, limiting recovery for purely economic loss; East River Doctrine, limiting recovery in tort where contractual remedy is available; reliance on Products Liability/402A of the Restatement of Torts, rather than state law remedies; Wilburn Boat, requiring application of state law for insurance coverage determinations in the absence of controlling federal jurisprudence or statute.

[14] Laches applies in the absence of an applicable statute of limitation.

[15] Due from the date of the loss rather than from the date of judicial demand (the date suit is filed).

[16] Rules A to G 46 U.S.C. § 30501, et seq, which allows a shipowner to limit its liability to the value of the vessel after the accident, if the shipowner had no “privity and knowledge” ahead of time of the cause or activity which causes the accident.

[17] 46 U.S.C. § 30501, et seq, which allows a shipowner to limit its liability to the value of the vessel after the accident, if the shipowner had no “privity and knowledge” ahead of time of the cause or activity which causes the accident.

[18] A non-possessory right which allows a lienholder to proceed in rem against a ship or other property. In the United States, a vessel is “personified” which allows a lienholder to “arrest” a vessel to enforce a lien. See also, the Maritime lien Act, 46 U.S. Code § 31342, et seq.

[19] Protection (defense costs) and Indemnity (payment of liability claims).

[20] Marine General Liability, a marine version of a land-based comprehensive general liability policy, as the latter generally contains a “Watercraft Exclusion.”

[21] Maritime Employers Liability for liability to or for employees on non-owned vessels

[22] (German for “umbrella”) A type of broad marine excess coverage over underlying primary coverage or insured’s retentions.

[23] First party coverage for damage to vessels. Coverage issues will often arise from named perils or the catch-all Inchmaree Clause, the Adventures Clause and the Liner Negligence Clause.

[24] Includes coverage above primary layer based upon the language of “following form”, industry forms and manuscript forms.

[25] Includes coverage for Oil  Pollution Act 33 USC. 2701, et seq. (“OPA”) and related Certificates of Financial Responsibility (“COFR’s”), as well as the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, 42 USC 9601, et seq. (“CERCLA”).