In a much-anticipated decision, the United States Supreme Court held that choice-of-law provisions in marine insurance contracts are presumptively enforceable under federal maritime law with a few narrow exceptions. In Great Lakes Insurance SE v. Raiders Retreat Realty Co., LLC, 601 U.S. ___ (2024), the country’s highest court overturned a Third Circuit Court of Appeals decision that had created a circuit split regarding the applicability of choice-of-law provisions in marine insurance contracts and when the law of the forum state can override the choice made by the parties to the contract.
Continue Reading Choice-of-Law Provisions in Marine Insurance Contracts Upheld by the Supreme Court

On December 29, 2023, the USCG issued Maritime Safety Information Bulletin (MSIB) 13-2023, Change 1, an updated version of MSIB 13-23, adding a Frequently Asked Questions section to the document addressing compliance with the Safer Seas Act which was passed in December of 2022.
Continue Reading USCG Updates Guidance on Safer Seas Act Compliance, Continuing to Show Strict Interpretation and Enforcement of Its Requirements

The Port of New Orleans has been awarded a $73.8 million federal grant to support the initial construction of its Louisiana International Terminal (LIT) project in St. Bernard Parish. The new terminal, located in Violet, Louisiana, will be able to serve vessels of all sizes by avoiding height restrictions from bridges further up the Mississippi River and taking advantage of the deeper, 50-foot Lower Mississippi River Ship Channel.
Continue Reading Louisiana International Terminal Project Receives Federal Funding Boost

On December 4, 2023, in Marquette Transportation Co. Gulf-Inland, LLC v. Navigation Maritime Bulgare JSC, et al., the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that state law—and specifically in this case, Louisiana law—governs the applicable negligence standard and burden of proof for a pilot’s error.
Continue Reading When It Comes to Pilot Errors: State Statutes Preempt General Maritime Law

On October 30, 2023, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana found that the rule established by the U.S. Supreme Court in Robins Dry Dock & Repair Co. v. Flint applied to the case at hand, barring claimants from recovering economic damages for deferred oil production.
Continue Reading Corporate Protection Pipeline: Court Denies Economic Damages Based on Robins Dry Dock

The EPA is seeking comments on its recently-published Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which proposes national performance standards under the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act. The EPA presents new data on ballast water management systems and solicits public comments on the standards and definitions applicable to ballast tanks, hulls and associated niche areas, and graywater systems. The Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking brings VIDA one step closer to full implementation.
Continue Reading EPA’s Proposed Rule on Vessel Incidental Discharges Brings VIDA One Step Closer to Full Implementation

Most American maritime and environmental attorneys and vessel owners are familiar with OPA 90 and oil spill liability in the United States. But what happens when a vessel spills oil in the territorial waters of another country?
Continue Reading Oil Spill Liability: OPA 90 v. the IMO’S CLC

On May 25, 2023, the Nation’s first U.S.-built offshore wind substation departed from a Texas fabrication facility for the South Fork Wind Farm in federal waters on the New York outer continental shelf. This marks the start of Jones Act compliant offshore wind support vessels being manufactured domestically, including the first-ever U.S. flagged wind turbine installation vessel (“WTIV”) and offshore wind service operations vessel (“SOV”), both of which are currently under construction in Texas and Louisiana, respectively.
Continue Reading MADE IN AMERICA: U.S.-Built Offshore Wind Substation and Support Vessels Start to Set Sail for Federal Waters

On June 16, the Texas Supreme Court considered the award of noneconomic damages in the amount of just over $15 million in a wrongful death case arising from a trucking accident. In a plurality opinion, the Court reversed and remanded for a new trial, holding that the jury’s discretion to make an award is limited and that noneconomic damages must be supported by evidence of the nature, duration, and severity of the injury to support both the existence and the amount of compensable loss. Additionally, the Court held that unsubstantiated arguments to the jury, such as comparisons of mental anguish to the cost of a fighter jet, a work of art, or miles driven by a defendant’s vehicles, are improper.
Continue Reading “Juries cannot simply pick a number and put it in the blank.” – Texas Supreme Court Remands Case Involving $15 Million Jury Award for Noneconomic Damages Where Award was Unsupported and Arguments to the Jury Unsubstantiated

On June 2, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reversed a district court’s order vacating the attachment of property under Rule B of the Supplemental Rules of Admiralty. The property at issue was seized in support of a time charterer’s claims pending in UK arbitration. The Third Circuit found that, in order to qualify as facially valid maritime claims for purposes of Rule B, the claims must be actually asserted and ready for adjudication. Applying English law to the claims, the Court held that while a claim for the breach of a charter party qualified, a claim for implied indemnity and a contingent breach of charter party claim did not.
Continue Reading Third Circuit Restores Rule B Attachment Based On Breach of Contract Claim Under English Law, Implied Indemnity Claim Not Enough