Admiralty & Maritime

The Admiralty & Maritime team at Pierce Atwood is prepared to help you navigate the complex patchwork of federal, state and local laws governing activities along the shore and at sea. Recognizing that our clients' needs often do not end at the water's edge, our team includes attorneys with expertise in admiralty, environmental, real estate, commercial, corporate, banking and tax law.

Drawing from our many established practice groups, we have the breadth and depth of knowledge and experience necessary to assist you with matters ranging from litigating traditional admiralty claims, to securing regulatory permits for industrial, commercial, and residential development, to developing off-shore wind farms, and virtually everything in between.

SUCCESS

Cargo Case Will Stay in the U.S.

Pierce Atwood successfully opposed a motion by a vessel charterer to stay litigation against it in Boston federal court in favor of London arbitration.

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SUCCESS

Discovery Sanctions Allowed Though No Discovery Order Was Violated

Pierce Atwood successfully sought discovery sanctions against a party. 

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SUCCESS

Successful Defense 

Successfully defended boat builder from claim of misappropriation of vessel design.

 

 

SUCCESS

Jones Act

Obtained summary judgment for former vessel owner and aquaculture company, dismissing Jones Act and maintenance and cure claims.

 

 

SUCCESS

Arrest of Vessel

Obtained an emergency order authorizing the arrest of a vessel allowing the bank to foreclose on a preferred ship mortgage before sale to a third party.

SUCCESS

Transfer of Assets

Assisted client in connection with large scale transfer of assets, including a fleet of vessels.

SUCCESS

In the News

Brad Gandrup was recently featured in the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly article, "Party in maritime suit can forego arbitration"about one of our recent successes. To read the full article, click here.

Areas of Expertise

Boat Builders
Pierce Atwood's attorneys have a long history of representing boat builders on a national and local scale. We have negotiated and drafted contracts for many large scale vessel construction and repair projects. We also have extensive experience litigating matters involving claims of vessel construction and design defects.
Coastal Development and Public Access
Coastal property has economic, aesthetic and environmental value. These qualities lead to heavy regulation and frequent intense debates over the right to develop or preserve property in and along the coastal zone. Pierce Atwood has significant experience helping clients obtain permits for the responsible construction of piers, docks and other shoreline structures.
Collision and Allision

Pierce Atwood’s Maritime Group attorneys represent vessel owners in collision cases, and in allision cases involving vessel contact with bridges and other fixed structures.

Defense of Maritime Classification Societies and Marine Surveyors

Pierce Atwood’s Maritime Group has substantial experience defending maritime classification societies and marine surveyors in professional malpractice cases.  Our attorneys have represented both the U.S. and French classification societies in two of the largest and most significant class cases litigated in the past 20 years.

Marine Construction, Dredging and Towage

Pierce Atwood’s Maritime Group represents New England marine construction, dredging and towage companies in connection with projects all over the world, and a national, general construction company when its projects involve maritime operations.  Our work for these businesses includes litigation, the formation of corporations and other business entities, the drafting of various types of contracts including charters and towage agreements, and the financing, purchase and sale of vessels and equipment.  When necessary, the Maritime Group consults with the Firm’s  corporate and tax attorneys to provide clients with comprehensive solutions.

Marine Insurance

Pierce Atwood’s Maritime Group attorneys have handled significant marine insurance coverage litigation for various types of marine insurers. The Maritime Group’s attorneys also routinely assist marine insurers in providing defense to various types of claims, and in connection with seeking subrogation recovery.

Marine Pollution

Pierce Atwood’s Maritime Group attorneys have represented vessel owners, facility owners and claimants in a variety of oil spill cases. The major spills in which they have been involved include the M/T POSAVINA spill in Boston Harbor, the EXXON VALDEZ spill in Alaska, and the M/T PRESTIGE spill off the coast of Spain, which impacted Spain and several other countries.  As marine oil spills can also of course originate on land, as for example in connection with marine terminal operations, the Maritime Group’s attorneys can draw on the extensive experience of the firm’s shore side environmental attorneys to offer clients comprehensive assistance in such situations. 

Marine Terminals, Shipyards and Marinas

Pierce Atwood’s Maritime Group attorneys have represented marine terminal and marina owners in claims for vessel damage to piers, docks, and other floating and fixed structures, and also have defended vessel owners in connection with the same types of claims. The firm’s Maritime Group attorneys also often assist shipyards, marinas and boatyards in connection with claims for wharfage, storage and removal of abandoned or wrecked vessels. 

Maritime Arbitration

In addition to the Maritime Group’s active practice in maritime litigation and transactional matters, its members are also experienced in charter party and salvage arbitrations.

Maritime Arrests, Attachments and Petitory Actions

Pierce Atwood’s Maritime Group represents banks and other lenders, marine fuel suppliers and other providers of maritime “necessaries,” salvage companies, towage companies, and various other types of maritime claimants, in the arrest or attachment of vessels ranging from oil tankers to private yachts, and of other types of maritime property.  The Maritime Group also has extensive experience in defending vessel owners and others in connection with arrests and attachments.  Maritime arrests and attachments of course hinge on whether a claim falls within the federal courts’ admiralty jurisdiction, and our attorneys have substantial experience in connection with admiralty jurisdiction matters, including successful representation of the petitioner before the United States Supreme Court in Exxon Corp. v. Central Gulf Lines, Inc., 500 U.S. 603 (1991), in which the Supreme Court expanded federal admiralty jurisdiction over contracts. 

The Group’s attorneys also are exceptionally familiar with the Supplemental Rules for Admiralty and Maritime Claims and Asset Forfeiture Actions of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and the case law construing them, as well as with the local practices of the Federal Courts and the U.S. Marshals’ Service in the Districts of Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.  Pierce Atwood’s Maritime Group attorneys have taken a leading role in drafting the proposed Local Admiralty Rules for the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island, which are currently being reviewed for approval by the judges of that Court.  As frequently maritime arrests and attachments must be accomplished quickly, before a vessel departs a jurisdiction, our experience and expertise in this area are of great value to clients seeking to obtain security and otherwise protect their rights under maritime law.

Salvage

Pierce Atwood’s Maritime Group attorneys have represented salvors in securing rights to wrecks, and also have defended vessel owners in salvage claims by salvors.

Seaman's Claims
Our attorneys have represented vessel owners and operators in connection with lawsuits brought by their maritime employees in state and federal court. We have litigated claims arising under the Jones Act and under the general maritime law for unseaworthiness and maintenance and cure.
Ship Mortgages
Pierce Atwood's attorneys have advised clients in connection with many complex vessel purchase and construction transactions that depend on perfection of preferred ships mortgages. Our team also is experienced in litigation in matters arising out of foreclosures on ship mortgages and vessel repossessions.