15 Jan 2020
Beware of the Nominal Entity
Make sure you know who you are really contracting with.A famous U.S. politician once insisted that “it takes a village to raise a child.” That said, any marine operator will tell you that it takes an even larger village and a ridiculous number of contracts to operate a vessel, and even more to manage a fleet of vessels. To make our marine operations run, we have to agree to contracts that provide for the construction or charter of a vessel…
16 Nov 2017
Catching a Jones Act Seaman’s 'Golden Parachute'
A challenging offshore environment produces a different but equally difficult development. Will you be ready when it comes to your fleet? Unfortunately, our industry continues to suffer due to the depressed oil prices that started in 2014. When the price of oil initially dropped, the industry’s outlook remained positive, and I remember hearing the mantra: “Stay lean for 2015.” Everyone thought that oil prices would rebound in short order and that we were only weathering a short downturn.
31 Jul 2017
For Payroll Purposes, is Your Seaman Really a Seaman?
For operational purposes, it is critical to know what type of employees you have on your vessel. Failure to do so could be expensive. As vessel operators, we pay close attention the provisions of the Jones Act and how they affect the operation, crewing and administration of our marine-based operations. A determination that your vessel-based crews are seamen under maritime law creates a different employment…
07 Mar 2017
Plan for Safety: Leadership is Key
Effective leadership and a safety management system are the keys to success. Failure to lead has consequences. Over the last 20 years we have seen a dramatic shift in the way that our industry operates. When I started practicing law, many companies looked at safety planning as a balancing act where you weighed the costs associated with safety against the costs associated with working through employee claims. Unfortunately, our employees often ended up on the losing side of the balancing test.
16 Dec 2016
Clear Contractual Language: What Are You Agreeing To?
The tightening of the marine markets over the last two years have pushed some companies to do everything that they can to avoid obligations that they feel are burdensome or take advantage of obligations that provide them with a competitive advantage. Unfortunately, many of these agreements were crafted during happier times, by employees who were motivated by simply closing the deal and without any real regard for the legal technicalities of the agreement.
08 Feb 2016
Limit Exposure with the Uniform Commercial Code
Demanding assurance pursuant to the UCC may save you from sinking on someone else’s ship. Vessel operations require a large network of companies that come together to keep the entire business chain – including yours – running smoothly. Keeping the lights on and the boats running requires agreements with banks, investors, shipbuilders, component manufacturers, designers, technical specialists, repairmen, suppliers, agents and countless other entities.
13 Jul 2015
Safety and the Law Collide on the Water
We all can agree that the safety of our employees is critical; if not the most important concern of each of our companies. Our marine-based employees face day-to-day perils that are not encountered by the average American office worker. It is our duty to do everything that we can to ensure that each of our employees returns safely to his or her family once their hitch is over. Our industry has made great strides in improving safety over the years by utilizing improved training programs…
19 Feb 2015
Avoiding Pitfalls on the Water
When a land-based contractor decides to work on water, risk can arise from unexpected places. It doesn’t have to be that way. In the past, companies involved in the marine industry, whether they were vessel operators, riggers, longshoremen, ship builders, repairers, or construction companies were, by and large, specialized and most companies focused on one niche aspect of the industry. Fast forward to 2015 and it is clear that our industry has changed.
24 Sep 2014
Business, Bankruptcy, Bad Debt – and You
Everyone knows that doing business with payment terms providing for payment in the future poses a risk. Our clients often contact us asking us to write letters and…
10 Apr 2014
Oil Spill Clean Up: Your Response is Required
The government has a plan for responding to your oil spill. Do you? In February, due to a collision between a tug boat and a tank barge, approximately 31,500 gallons…
27 Feb 2014
The Pitfalls of Post Incident Paperwork
The job’s not over until the paperwork is done. Done correctly. When an accident occurs on one of your vessels, an accident investigation is necessary. As safety is our primary concern, it is important to determine what happened, how it happened and how we can prevent it from happening in the future. Although determining how to prevent a future accident is important, it is also important to be responsible while generating documents as the process unfolds.
26 Sep 2013
Beyond Your Control: Minimizing Exposure
In the marine industry, the management of risk is an everyday concern. We attempt to minimize risk by maintaining seaworthy vessels, properly training crews, entering into agreements that allocate risk and buying insurance. Despite those best efforts and intentions, events may occur that are beyond our control; events that could possibly cause damage that we may be responsible for. These events are often referred to as Acts of God.
21 May 2013
Managing Jones Act Personal Injury Litigation
Even the safest, most careful marine operator will, at some point in time, have an accident aboard one of their vessels. And, despite the best of intentions, sometimes employees gets hurt. Once an employee is injured, the likelihood of employee filing a lawsuit because of it, especially on Jones Act tonnage, becomes a real possibility. The effective management and outcome of such a case lies in preparing for litigation.
22 Apr 2013
Using Mediation: Eliminate Risk and Conserve Litigation Expenses
When doing business in the maritime industry, someone will inevitably file a legal claim against your company, or you will file a claim against someone else. Although litigation is always good for your legal team, it is often not good for the litigants. Litigation forces a company to utilize resources that could be working on more productive areas of your business. While the litigation process progresses…
27 Nov 2012
What Will You Do When a Spill Occurs?
The blowout aboard the Deepwater Horizon and the resulting oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico captured the attention of both the public and regulators. As a result of this incident, both the government and the general public have developed opinions as to how such an oil spill should be avoided, contained and cleaned up. Now, even a small spill can become front page news and your company’s operations and policies will be scrutinized by the government, media and the general public.
23 Nov 2011
Alternative Dispute Resolution Provisions
Do they save you time, money, and aggravation? Over the last decade, the legal community has embraced alternative dispute resolution modalities, such as mediation and arbitration, as tools to resolve disputes between litigants. Both of these options can be very effective in quickly resolving claims. That said, it is prudent to consider other methods before entering into any such agreement. Mediation and arbitration can be very positive for the company…