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January 2018

Recent Representative Maritime Experience

Tort Litigation

A primary capability of our Maritime practice focuses on the defense of vessel interests in cases involving personal injury/death, property loss and economic damages. Our experience covers claims brought by passengers, seamen, businesses, longshore and harbor workers, shippers, contractors and various other business entities, as well as related indemnity cases.

Representative Experience

  • We have defended vessel owners and operators against literally hundreds of claims brought by Jones Act seamen and Longshore and Harbor Workers for personal injury.  These include a
    12-0 defense verdict in a jury trial in Ventura County Superior Court, defending the Port of Ventura and Island Packers Corp. from a maritime personal injury claim and 11-0 defense verdict representing a fishing vessel operator in a Jones Act claim involving  claims of assault, severe personal injury, discrimination, and abuse of foreign nationals
  • Class actions involving alleged shipboard food contamination
  • Consumer and competitor claims for unfair trade practices
  • Suits involving ADA compliance
  • Medical malpractice arising from shipboard treatment, referrals and evacuations
  • Defended clients in a group of 38 asbestos claims refiled after dismissal from Asbestos Product Liability Multidistrict Litigation (MDL 875)
  • Defending a group of clients in a case alleging injury due to crewman welding fume exposure

Finance and Transactions

Our Maritime practice includes assistance with corporate business transactions as well as financial matters, such as ship acquisitions, sales, mortgages, and other finance considerations. We have represented owners, lending institutions, trustees, shipyards, and leasing companies.
We have also represented ship-owners and other stakeholders in maritime bankruptcy proceedings, foreclosures and petitory actions. Our work with maritime liens in a wide range of disputes supports our expertise in maritime arrest, attachment, limitation of liability and similar procedures.

Representative Experience

  • Retained by preferred ship mortgage holders and other financial institutions to analyze and improve vessel owner policies and procedures in order to protect holders of liens and security interests
  • Foreclosure of preferred ship mortgages and prosecution and defense of maritime liens
  • Sale and purchase of multi-million dollar vessels, with domestic and foreign sellers and buyers
  • Charter agreement work, both bare-boat and otherwise
  • A wide range of vessel financings and refinancings for new and pre-owned commercial marine vessels, including ferries, ships, and yachts
  • General corporate counsel work for a large number of purse seiner vessel owners
  • Vessel arrest and foreclosure sale work regarding all sizes of vessels, both domestic and foreign-owned
  • Drafting charter parties and bills of lading for vessel interests

Cargo Loss

Gordon & Rees represents shippers, vessel owners, charterers, consignees and underwriters in matters involving claims for cargo loss, theft and damage.  We have handled matters involving a wide range of dry and liquid bulk cargoes as well as containerized and heavy lift cargos.  They have included claims for damage, loss of delay in delivery of cement, crude oil, coal, ore, timber, sugar, tapioca, paraffin, wind turbines, steel products, power generation equipment, drilling mud pumps, motor vehicles, clothing, electronics and other manufactured products.

Representative Experience

  • Successfully opposed jurisdiction in U.S. Courts by enforcing forum selection clause in COGSA bill of lading
  • Successfully resolved dozens of cases by enforcing “package limitation” clauses and “Himalaya” clauses
  • Successfully defended maritime professionals such as masters, mates, surveyors, adjusters, and commercial arbitrators involved in cargo movement
  • Defended stevedores, terminal operators, and inland carriers in intermodal shipping
  • Defended a major ocean carrier against delay claims arising out of the 2015 West Coast port slowdown

Environmental and Marine Casualties

We have handled a wide range of significant marine casualties, including strandings, fire, cargo loss, collisions, sinkings, personal injury/death, and pollution/environmental contamination. We have an extensive network of technical and operations experts and consultants.
Our team handles all aspects of marine disasters, including risk management/prevention, event and loss investigations, clean-up and salvage, dispute resolution (through arbitration, mediation and litigation), and interactions with local, national and international regulatory organizations.  We also have experience resolving third-party claims and defending civil and criminal fines.

Representative Experience

  • Resolved large exposure oil spills at sea and in inland water ways involving OPA ’90, FWPCA and CERCLA
  • Represented vessel interests after a fire on a cruise ship
  • Represented ship owners in investigation and resolution of significant casualties, including significant collapses of container stows
  • Represented insurer in investigation and resolution of medical evacuations in Mexico
  • Represented vessel owners and dock owners in collision and allision cases
  • Representing vessel interests in a claim for damage caused by an allision of a vessel with a freeway bridge
  • Obtaining recovery for the total loss of a yacht
  • Defending a container distributor in a manufacturing defect claim
  • Representing vessel interests in a claim for damage caused by surge from a passing vessel
  • Repatriation of both injured seamen and the remains of deceased seamen
  • Defending claims for damage to various types of cargo, including food-grade cargoes and industrial equipment
  • Representing a group of shipowners in claims by former merchant seamen for injury allegedly caused by benzene exposure
  • Representing various pleasure craft and engine manufacturers in design defect lawsuits

Protection and Indemnity Clubs

Gordon & Rees maritime attorneys have decades of experience serving P&I Clubs on behalf of ship owners and charterers, including the investigation of dock and harbor damage, subsea pipeline and cable damage, ship operations, tanker and dry bulk cargoes, heavy weather damage, structural failure, vessel under-performance, collision and grounding, towage and salvage.

Representative Experience

  • Floating production storage and offloading (FPSO)
  • Port and harbor development and operations
  • Subsea and diving operations
  • Safety management systems
  • Ship management practices
  • Instrumentation and control maintenance systems


Gordon & Rees regularly counsels industry trade groups and individual companies on the potential impact of current laws and proposed legislation. We provide advice regarding compliance with U.S. state and federal regulations, as well as international maritime standards and treaties. We practice before numerous administrative and regulatory bodies to obtain or contest various administrative rulings and determinations.

Navigational Safety and OSHA

Gordon & Rees attorneys represent maritime employers and their employees in litigation before the U.S. Coast Guard, OSHA, and Cal OSHA. In addition to defending Gordon & Rees maritime attorneys train, counsel, and advise regarding safety compliance and when appropriate, seek variances, waivers, and interpretations to assist its clients in maintaining safe, healthful, and efficient operations.

Representative Experience

  • Successfully obtained variance for maritime/rail employers to move personnel during certain intermodal cargo operations
  • Successfully defended employers regarding jurisdiction in cases defining OSHA v. Cal OSHA jurisdiction over shored based cranes in maritime use
  • Successfully defended employer by obtaining dismissals or vacations of various OSHA citations
  • Successfully defended chief engineer against claims of incompetence and oil pollution
  • Successful trial of several OSHA cases per year
  • Drafted and implemented several occupational health and safety policies for clients

Employment Actions

Our representation of maritime clients in employment litigation matters includes claims alleging:

  • Sexual harassment
  • Wrongful termination
  • Racial discrimination
  • Age discrimination