Our maritime and transportation practice covers a broad spectrum of matters facing companies in the maritime and transportation industries.
Personal Injury and Death
A significant portion of our practice involves the defense of vessel and other maritime interests in personal injury and wrongful death litigation. These include cases brought by seamen and passengers as well as longshore and other harbor workers. Some of these matters arise out of incidents occurring on ships on the high seas. Others arise out of incidents while the vessels are at berth or drydock. Still others arise out of occurrences on the dock or within a terminal.
Marine Pollution, Collisions and Groundings
We have substantial experience in representing clients in incidents involving collisions, groundings and the release of oil and other hazardous substances into the environment. FLYNN, DELICH & WISE LLP attorneys are available on an around the clock basis when these incidents occur. Our experience includes investigating these matters, establishing a command center, providing advice relating to the matter, dealing with governmental agencies, litigating issues relating to the allocation of responsibility among the parties, and negotiating resolutions. Our expertise encompasses issues arising under federal law, including OPA ’90, as well as state and local law.
Represented a maritime industry group in its successful Clean Air Act challenge to emissions standards for vessel auxiliary diesel engines adopted by the California Air Resources Board in 2006. Pacific Merchant Shipping Association v. Goldstene, 517 F.3d 1108 (9th Cir. 2008).
Represented China Shipping in 2004 negotiations with the Port of Los Angeles and the Natural Resources Defense Council to reach landmark “green” terminal agreement among the three parties for the marine terminal at Berth 100 in the Port of Los Angeles. By this Agreement, China Shipping became the first container shipping company in the world to “cold-iron,” i.e., shut down its ships’ diesel engines and use electricity from the shore side grid to power the ships while alongside the dock. The Agreement also included a commitment by the terminal to use the most modern emissions reduction technology and alternative fuels to power its cargo handling equipment. The Port agreed to provide substantial subsidies for the environmental measures adopted. All of the ships that call at the terminal now cold-iron while alongside. The Agreement established the first green container terminal in the United States and stands as a good example of how the maritime industry, port authorities and environmentalists can work together to further environmentally responsible economic growth.
Represents a major ocean carrier in connection with a high profile oil spill in the San Francisco Bay.
FLYNN, DELICH & WISE LLP regularly represents vessel owners and charterers, freight forwarders and “non-vessel operating common carriers” – as well as their insurers – in cases involving claims for cargo loss or damage. These cases range, for example, from damage to a portion of the cargo in a single container to the loss of hundreds of containers overboard or damaged as a result of a major casualty at sea.
The use of containers and chassis in maritime and shoreside transportation gives rise to particularized issues. This equipment is often owned by a leasing company, leased to an ocean carrier, and then interchanged to a trucking company or railroad. Over-the-road accidents lead to personal injury and death claims as well as those for damage to or loss of cargo. FLYNN, DELICH & WISE LLP has gained a national reputation in representing vessel interests – typically ocean carriers and their insurers – in the litigation, arbitration and mediation of these matters as lead or monitoring counsel.
These cases usually involve issues arising under tort law, but also have complex contract and insurance aspects depending on the relationships of the parties. We are especially proud of our track record in recovering attorneys’ fees and costs, on behalf of our clients, against trucking companies and railroads. These recoveries are based upon theories of contractual or equitable indemnity. Since becoming involved in these matters, we have recovered more than $2.8 million in fees and costs on behalf of our clients.
Intermodal carriage also has a cargo and property loss and damage aspect. Defense of cargo actions increasingly involves multiple carriers (such as an ocean carrier, a “non-vessel operating common carrier” (“NVOCC”), a freight forwarder, a railroad and a trucking company), At the same time, railroads are becoming aggressive in pursuit of shippers when it is alleged that the packing, loading or stowage of cargo causes or contributes to derailment. This is significant because “the shipper of record” for the railroad is in many cases an ocean carrier or NVOCC. FLYNN, DELICH & WISE LLP is at the forefront of this growing and developing area of law.
Maritime Contracts and Liens
FLYNN, DELICH & WISE LLP is experienced in the negotiation and drafting of a wide variety of maritime contracts. These include bills of lading, terminal agreements with vendors, customers, ports, and port authorities, charter and towage agreements, and passenger ticket contracts. We represent vessel owners. charterers, and terminal operators in negotiating these agreements and in litigation, arbitration and mediation with disputes arise.
We are also experienced in matters involving maritime lien claims. These arise out of casualties or commercial disputes and are asserted against a vessel. Our experience includes the representation of both vessel interests and suppliers in these matters. In some instances, these cases also involve bankruptcy issues or limitation of a vessel’s liability.
Global Transportation and Logistics Providers
A growing aspect of our practice is providing litigation representation and legal counseling to global transportation and logistics providers. As more shippers seek to outsource their shipping functions, companies have filled the gap by providing a one-stop source for all modes of carriage and other logistics support such as warehousing. FLYNN, DELICH & WISE LLP provides the necessary fusion of transportation law background with broader legal knowledge to meet the challenges that face any company seeking to weave through the intricate web of multimodal transportation.
Another growing aspect of our transportation practice is the representation of freight forwarders and similar interests in cases involving the loss of or damage to air cargo. These cases often involve international airlines and raise issues under the Warsaw Convention as well as the air waybills issued by the freight forwarders and airlines. Among the issues typically litigated are the respective rights and obligations of the various parties as well as any limitation to their ultimate liability.
Personal Injury and Death
* Authored and submitted amicus curiae briefs to the United States Supreme Court in Sisson v. Ruby, 497 U.S. 358 (1990); and Howlett v. Birkdale Shipping Co., S.A., 512 U.S. 92 (1994).
* Acted on behalf of the M/V ROSE S in consolidated actions for wrongful deaths and limitation of liability arising from the disappearance of the vessel and crew in the North Pacific.
* Represented the M/V PAN GRACE in an action for wrongful deaths and personal injury arising from an alleged collision with the Yacht MELINDA LEE in international waters off of New Zealand.
* Defended the vessel M/T MINAS LEO in catastrophic injury case filed by a Korean seaman in federal court in San Francisco. District Court’s dismissal of action on grounds of forum nonconveniens was affirmed on appeal by the Ninth Circuit. Chang v. MINAS LEO, 1993 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18301 (N.D. Cal.), 1996 U.S. App. LEXIS 2235 (9th Cir.).
* Defended a major U.S. yacht manufacturer in a major arbitration arising from a yacht fire and multiple wrongful deaths with product liability claims.
* Represented shipowner interests in numerous injury and death cases involving longshoremen and seamen, including:
Davis v. Partenreederei M.S. Normannia, 657 F.2d 1048 (9th Cir. 1981);
Taylor v. Moram Agencies, 739 F.2d 1384 (9th Cir. 1984);
Mondor v. The Vessel “HAI MONG”, 1996 U.S. App. Lexis 40167, unpublished, reported as Table Case at 97 F.3d 1460 (9th Cir. 1996); and
Godfrey v. M/V Baronia, 1992 U.S. App. Lexis 2518, unpublished, reported as Table Case at 945 F.2d 1727 (9th Cir. 1992).
Marine Pollution, Collisions and Groundings
* Authored and submitted amicus curiae brief to the United States Supreme Court in United States v. Locke, 529 U.S. 89 (2000) (Intertanko v. Locke).
* Represented an oil refinery in consolidated cases arising from a major oil spill from the M/T AMERICAN TRADER off the coast of Southern California. Slaven v. BP America, Inc., 958 F. Supp. 1472 (C.D. Cal. 1997); and Slaven v. BP America, Inc., 786 F. Supp. 853 (C.D. Cal. 1992).
* Defended the M/V PAC BARONESS in limitation of liability and related cross-actions arising from a collision with M/V ATLANTIC WING off the coast of Southern California.
* Acted on behalf of the ocean carrier in the successful trial and appellate defense of an action arising from the overboard loss of containers in heavy weather. Taisho Fire & Marine v. M/V SEA-LAND ENDURANCE, 815 F.2d 1270 (9th Cir. 1987).
* Defended a terminal operator to enforce per package limitation in ocean carrier’s bill of lading in which decision held that “pallets” rather than “pieces” were the relevant COGSA package. Tokio Marine & Fire Insurance Co. v. Nippon Express U.S.A., Inc., 155 F.Sup.. 1167 (C.D. Cal.), aff’d, 2002 U.S.App. LEXIS 18186 (9th Cir. 2002).
* Represented vessel interests in limitation and administrative proceedings arising out of the loss of coconut oil that was jettisoned after owner’s vessel grounded on a coral reef at Koror, Palau. In Re Complaint of M/V BOWOON SANGSA Co., Ltd., 720 F.2d 595 (9th Cir. 1983).
* On behalf of ocean carrier, obtained a transfer of a case from a North Dakota state court to the courts of Japan pursuant to a bill of lading forum selection clause, in Barbara Lloyd Designs, Inc. v. Mitsui O.S.K. Line, 2003 A.M.C. 2608 (D. N.D. 2003).
* Acted on behalf of vessel interests in obtaining reversal of an adverse decision concerning liability arising from the involvement of interchanged intermodal equipment in a fatal traffic accident in National Union Fire Insurance Co. v. Showa Shipping Co., Ltd., 47 F.3rd 316 (9th Cir. 1995).
* On behalf of vessel interests, obtained full recovery of damages and legal fees in a high exposure multi-death accident (involving the carrier’s chassis that had been interchanged to a trucker) by enforcing indemnity provisions in the bill of lading. Vega, et al. v. Crowley American Transport, 2000 U.S. LEXIS 1717 (D.P.R. 2000).
* Represented vessel interests nationwide in a series of cases involving claims of property damage and indemnity among shippers, freight forwarders, ocean carriers and railroads.
Maritime Contracts and Liens
* Authored and submitted amicus curiae brief to the United States Supreme Court in Shute v. Carnival Cruise Lines, Inc., 499 U.S. 585 (1991).
* On behalf of multiple shipowners, defended a class action brought by seamen for maintenance and cure in Gardiner v. Sea-Land Service, Inc., 786 F.2d 943 (9th Cir. 1986).
* Represented maritime interests in a major contractual dispute in In re Chugach Forest Products, Inc., 23 F.3d 241 (9th Cir. 1994).
* Acted on behalf of an unpaid global transportation and logistics provider transporting of dozens of containers full of toys at the time of the bankruptcy of a leading retailer.
* On behalf of numerous unpaid container lessors, prosecuted actions to recover containers from defaulting lessees in bankruptcy proceedings.
* Represented a prominent bank to recover on defaulted note in the arrest of a pleasure boat.
Global Transportation and Logistics Providers / Air Cargo
* Defended an indirect air carrier in connection with a claim for loss of a high-value shipment of computer parts, obtaining summary judgment of non-liability to the plaintiff based on a contractual suit-time limitation in the house air waybill. Also defeated the actual air carrier’s effort to limit liability for indemnity based on its air waybill. Seagate Technologies LLC v. Dalian China Express, 169 F. Supp.2d 1137 (N. D. Cal. 2001) (indemnity limitation issue); Seagate Technologies LLC v. Dalian China Express, 169 F. Supp.2d 1146 (N. D. Cal. 2001) (summary judgment against plaintiff shipper).
* Acted on behalf of an indirect air carrier in defending a claim alleging theft of computer products from a warehouse prior to air carriage. Obtained summary judgment, affirmed on appeal, limiting liability based upon weight of stolen cargo, approximately 1/80th of the actual value of the cargo. Albingia Versicherungs, A.G. v. Schenker International, 350 F.3d 916 (9th Cir. 2003).
General Maritime Law/Maritime Environmental Law
* Pacific Merchant Shipping Association v. Goldstene, 639 F.3d 1154 (9th Cir. 2011), pet. for cert. pending, U.S. Sup. Ct. Docket No. 10-1555, and Pacific Merchant Shipping v. Goldstene, 517 F.3d 1108 (9th Cir. 2008)