Complex federal, state and international regulations that affect a host of business practices on and about the inland river system, the Great Lakes, and the oceans also demand a careful course and occasional adjustments. We have helped companies in the maritime industry avoid and overcome legal obstacles for more than half a century.
ADMIRALTY & MARITIME LAW
IT IS NOT JUST THE WATER YOU HAVE TO NAVIGATE.
The Jones Act
Defending Serious Injury Cases in St. Louis, Illinois, and Across the Country
The Jones Act, 46 U.S.C. Section 30104 et seq., is a maritime statute that governs seamen’s injury cases. At Goldstein and Price, L.C., we have successfully defended countless Jones Act cases on behalf of insurance and marine companies for 60 years.
The Jones Act
Although the traditional seaman is a blue water sailor or a deckhand on an inland river towboat, even a dockside welder at a shipyard, a laborer on a bridge construction project or a cocktail waitress on a cruise ship may claim to be a seaman under the Jones Act. We have extensive experience in helping companies determine what body of law (the Jones Act, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, 33 U.S.C.A. Section 901, et seq., or state worker’s compensation statutes) governs injury claims involving their employees.
The Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA), 45 U.S.C.A. Section 51 et seq. affords railroad workers the same legal standards as the Jones Act for their injury claims. Because of our experience as Jones Act defense lawyers, and our capabilities as trial attorneys, railroads have retained our firm to defend FELA claims.
Operating in U. S. Ports
Doing business in U.S. ports presents a unique set of challenges including:
- the power and authority of port districts and other government entities, including but not limited to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Coast Guard;
- special requirements for the sale and leasing of public lands, river frontage and buildings for docks, terminals and processing facilities;
- specialized doctrines and charges such as wharfage, a fee imposed by ports when goods move through their terminals; and
- the interfaces between ships, barges, trucks, railroads and pipelines since all of them tend to converge in modern, multi-modal port facilities.
We help municipalities, shippers, carriers and terminal operators better understand and manage their legal obligations which, in turn, enables them to operate more efficiently and effectively in U.S. ports.
Maritime Law Attorneys with a National Practice Based in St. Louis
As maritime trial and appellate lawyers, we represent clients wherever vessels collide, cargo is damaged, seamen file suit, and other maritime disputes arise. We handle a broad variety of maritime issues including, among others:
- Marine insurance coverage disputes
- Maritime workers’ injury claims under the Jones Act, Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act and other compensation statutes
- Marine disasters involving
- Vessel collisions and allusions
- Groundings and sinkings
- Pollution, fires and explosions
- Destruction of marinas
- Cargo losses
- Administrative proceedings brought by the U.S. Coast Guard and other government agencies
- Maritime liens and the arrest of vessels
- Employment discrimination and wage claims
In major marine casualty cases, we have been a leader in successfully pursuing limitation of liability, which can dramatically reduce the exposure of the owner or operator of a vessel under certain circumstances. See In re in the Matter of the Complaints of the American Milling Company, 409 F.3d 1005 (8th Cir. (Mo.) 2005); In re Missouri Barge Line, Inc., 360 F.3d 885 (8th Cir. (Mo.) 2004).
In addition to maritime litigation, we also provide maritime counseling concerning all aspects of maritime regulatory compliance and maritime transactions, including maritime creditors’ rights.
Our expertise as maritime law attorneys has been recognized by the U.S. Court of Appeals, which requests our assistance in revising its admiralty rules; the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, which appointed our firm as special maritime counsel in a major bankruptcy proceeding; and industry groups and major law firms which regularly ask our firm for advice on issues of admiralty and maritime law.
Limitation of Liability
Reducing Our Clients' Exposure to Damages from Marine Disasters
Towboats push barges through the Eads Bridge in the St. Louis harbor everyday, but on one April day, the tow of the Motor Vessel Anne Holly hit the bridge, broke loose, and struck the S.S. Admiral, a floating casino. The casino owner, customers in the casino, and barge interests claimed multi-million dollars in damages. We successfully petitioned the federal court to limit the liability of our client, the towboat owner, to a fraction of the claimed loss, under the Limitation of Liability Act, 46 U.S.C. Section 30505.
The maritime doctrine of limitation of liability offers a vessel owner or operator, under certain circumstances, the potential to limit its liability for catastrophic damages resulting from a marine accident. Although some have labeled the doctrine archaic, limitation of liability is of tremendous importance to companies involved in maritime commerce and the people who insure them.
In the past twenty years, few petitions to limit liability have been granted. We have represented the successful petitioners in two of these cases. See In re in the Matter of the Complaints of the American Milling Company, 409 F.3d 1005 (8th Cir.(Mo.)2005); In re Missouri Barge Line, Inc., 360 F.3d 885 (8th Cir.(Mo.)2004).