Your Vessel Just Discharged Oil in the Lone Star State…Have You Notified the Texas General Land Office?

Mainbrace | March 2017 (No. 2)

Jeremy A. Herschaft

When a marine pollution incident occurs in the United States, a vessel owner may find itself communicating with a myriad of federal and state response agencies, depending upon the size of the spill. If such an event occurs in Texas state waters, however, then one of the most important authorities that you will likely deal with is the Texas General Land Office (“TGLO”).

This article provides a brief overview of the TGLO to reinforce why this particular agency will be a critical component to any owner’s “Texas” marine pollution spill response plan. Keep in mind that obligations under Texas state law are in addition to obligations to abide by federal marine casualty and pollution response statutes and regulations.

Continue reading “Your Vessel Just Discharged Oil in the Lone Star State…Have You Notified the Texas General Land Office?”

Gulf Coast Update: Personal Jurisdiction Trend Continues to Favor the Defense

Mainbrace | March 2017 (No. 2)

David G. Meyer

Under U.S. law, personal jurisdiction is one of the fundamental aspects of a court’s ability to adjudicate a particular dispute, and it often plays a role in maritime cases, given the far-flung nature of the industry. In recent years, the trend in U.S. courts has been generally favorable to personal jurisdiction challenges. This is highlighted by two separate cases, Gulf Coast Int’l, L.L.C. v. The Research Corp. of the Univ. of Hawaii, 490 S.W.3d 577 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2016, pet. denied), and Mitsui Sumimoto Insurance Co., Ltd. v. M/V DEFIANT, et al., civil action H-16-55 (S.D.Tex. Aug. 23, 2016) (Miller, G.), recently handled by Blank Rome’s Houston office in which dismissals were obtained for the Firm’s clients on the basis that the court in which the plaintiff had filed suit did not have personal jurisdiction over the companies being sued. Continue reading “Gulf Coast Update: Personal Jurisdiction Trend Continues to Favor the Defense”

Bridging the Gap: AMLC Launches Government Relations Initiative to Further Practice Area Understanding between Private and Government Counsel

Mainbrace | March 2017 (No. 2)

Sean T. Pribyl

The scenario is a familiar one to lawyers practicing in maritime and admiralty law—a frantic middle-of-thenight call, a shipboard emergency, and your client looking to you for answers in a high-stakes scenario that could amount to the beginning of a very bad day. It is in the critical moments that follow during which government and private counsel may come into contact with the other, and those moments may to some extent define the course of the investigation. Depending on the precise incident, private counsel may find themselves inundated with multiple federal or state agencies, dealing with a litany of acronyms and governmental procedures. On the other hand, government counsel may be called to interact directly with private counsel while not fully understanding the private attorney’s motivations in representing their client. Regardless of the incident, there is potential for a language and cultural barrier when parties interact while serving respective clients during a maritime investigation, and counsel are at a disadvantage if they have not taken initial steps to understand the other side’s driving factors and authoritative processes before the initial interaction.

Continue reading “Bridging the Gap: AMLC Launches Government Relations Initiative to Further Practice Area Understanding between Private and Government Counsel”

U.S. District Court Finds U.S. Coast Guard’s National Pollution Funds Center Acted Arbitrarily and Capriciously When Denying Oil Spill Claim

Jonathan K. Waldron, Jeanne M. Grasso, and Sean T. Pribyl

Action Item: In December 2016, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia found that the U.S. Coast Guard’s National Pollution Funds Center (“NPFC”) wrongfully denied a reimbursement claim by the Water Quality Insurance Syndicate (“WQIS”) for the costs of cleaning up an oil spill in Cook Inlet, Alaska in January 2009. This opinion provided a powerful finding that a federal agency acted arbitrarily and capriciously in taking final agency action under the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”). The opinion puts federal agencies on notice that agency determinations must be supported by the factual record. Continue reading “U.S. District Court Finds U.S. Coast Guard’s National Pollution Funds Center Acted Arbitrarily and Capriciously When Denying Oil Spill Claim”

A Note from the Editor

Mainbrace | January 2017 (No. 1)

Thomas H. Belknap

As we launch into a new year, uncertainty remains the word of the day. Whatever your political leanings, it would be hard to dispute that the inauguration of the Trump administration augurs change on many fronts, from shifting and testing political alliances to evolving trade and energy policies and infrastructure development and growth. Predicting just how and when change will come, however, seems more difficult than ever.

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The Future of the Maritime Industry under a Trump Administration — Part I

Mainbrace | January 2017 (No. 1)

Jonathan K. Waldron, Matthew J. Thomas, and Joan M. Bondareff

Those engaged in the maritime industry are extremely interested in what the Trump administration will mean for our industry. Although a challenging task, here is what we see in some key areas as we look into our “crystal ball,” just as the new administration gets started.

Continue reading “The Future of the Maritime Industry under a Trump Administration — Part I”

Ballast Water Challenges Continue: Several New Things You Should Know

Mainbrace | January 2017 (No. 1)

Jeanne M. Grasso

On December 2, 2016, the U.S. Coast Guard (“USCG”) reached a watershed moment in the implementation of its ballast water management regulations by announcing the first USCG typeapproved ballast water management system (“BWMS”), a filtration/ultraviolet system manufactured by Optimarin AS, based in Norway. This USCG typeapproval has been more than four years in the making, since the USCG’s Final Rule for Standards for Living Organisms in Ships’ Ballast Water Discharged in U.S. Waters went into effect on June 21, 2012 (“Final Rule”). On December 23, 2016, the USCG type approved two more systems—one ultraviolet system and one electro-chlorination system, manufactured by Alfa Laval Tumba AB in Sweden and OceanSaver AS in Norway, respectively.

Continue reading “Ballast Water Challenges Continue: Several New Things You Should Know”