Removal of Maritime Claims: Is There Still a Conflict?

Noe S. Hamra

In the United States, state and federal courts operate on a dual track, with the difference that state courts are courts of “general jurisdiction” (i.e., hearing all cases not specifically reserved to federal courts), while federal courts are courts of “limited jurisdiction” (i.e., hearing cases involving “diversity of citizenship” or raising a “federal question”). In some cases, however, a defendant found in state court can transfer the case to federal court (also known as “removal”).

Until recently, it was well established that general maritime claims could not be removed from state court based solely on the federal court’s admiralty jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1333. Section 1333(1), also known as the saving-to-suitors clause, provides “[t]he district courts shall have original jurisdiction, exclusive of the courts of the States, of: (1) Any civil case of admiralty or maritime jurisdiction, saving to suitors in all cases all other remedies to which they are otherwise entitled….” Continue reading “Removal of Maritime Claims: Is There Still a Conflict?”

Blank Rome Achieves Mansfield Certification for Participation in Diversity Lab’s Mansfield Rule Program

Blank Rome LLP is proud to announce that the Firm has achieved Mansfield Certification after successfully completing Diversity Lab’s inaugural one-year Mansfield Rule pilot program. The certification recognizes 41 “trailblazing law firms” participating in the Mansfield Rule that have affirmatively considered at least 30 percent women and attorneys of color for leadership and governance roles, equity partner promotions, and senior lateral positions, to boost the representation of diverse lawyers in law firm leadership.

According to Diversity Lab’s press release announcing the firms that have achieved Mansfield Certification, one of the favorable outcomes of the inaugural Mansfield Rule is the significant surge in firms that now track and measure their candidate pipelines. Additionally, there is a reported incremental increase in diverse candidates considered for leadership roles, equity partner promotions, and lateral hiring by firms that tracked their pipelines prior to adopting the Mansfield Rule. Lisa Kirby, Director of Research & Knowledge Sharing at Diversity Lab, further stated in the press release that tracking candidate pipelines for “every single path that leads to leadership” as well as increasing the diversity of these pipelines is a positive step towards diversifying law firms’ next generation of leaders.

As a reward for achieving Mansfield Certification, Blank Rome and other participating certified firms will be able to send their newly promoted diverse and women partners to one of three upcoming Diversity Lab Client Forum events in New York, San Francisco, and Minneapolis/St. Paul. At the client forums, the diverse and women partners will learn from and have an opportunity to connect one-on-one or in small groups with legal department lawyers from more than 60 legal departments from leading companies across the country.

To read Blank Rome’s press release announcing this achievement, please click here.

Perspectives

Welcome to our latest edition of Perspectives, Blank Rome’s diversity and inclusion newsletter that keeps you informed on our latest diversity news and provides insight on current diversity issues in the legal industry and beyond.

Featured in this edition:

  • Insightful and in-depth conversation with Judge James T. Giles
  • Update on participation in Mansfield Rule 2.0
  • Initiatives aimed at advancing women in law and promoting LGBTQ+ equality
  • Highlights from heritage history months celebrations
  • Overview of recent diversity and inclusion headlines, accolades, and events

To learn more about Blank Rome’s diversity and inclusion initiatives, please visit blankrome.com/diversity-inclusion.

Download Perspectives here.

Congress Passes Major Maritime Safety Legislation but Fails to Fund a New Icebreaker or Pass Authorization

Joan M. Bondareff, Jonathan K. Waldron, and Genevieve Cowan*

This article provides an update on the status of several maritime-related bills pending with the 115th Congress as of October 3, 2018, and reviews one major marine safety law that passed Congress and is awaiting presidential signature.

America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018

The latest version of “America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018” (S. 3021), previously referred to as WRDA, is a product of compromise. The issues that were stalling the legislation for most of the summer have been resolved, resulting in a now far broader version that includes improvements to America’s water resources infrastructure; a streamlined project acquisition process for the Army Corps of Engineers that allows them to accept funds from nonfederal sponsors to advance studies and project elements; an extension of a new Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) water loan program for two more years; an EPA study requirement on small water utilities that are repeatedly out of compliance; a Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) study on whether to move the Army Corps out of the Department of Defense and into a civilian agency; and enhancements to oversight and transparency when reviewing water resources development activities by Congress. For a full summary and section-by-section review of the bill, please visit the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s webpage on America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018. Continue reading “Congress Passes Major Maritime Safety Legislation but Fails to Fund a New Icebreaker or Pass Authorization”

Note from the Editor

Thomas H. Belknap, Jr.

Looking back through past issues of Mainbrace, the articles published over time clearly reflect the ebb and flow of “hot” topics in the maritime industry. These have included—among many others—the global financial crisis and resulting scramble for maritime security on claims, the sharp rise of piracy, the perilous state of maritime cybersecurity, the ever-changing ballast water and emissions regulations landscape, the flood of maritime bankruptcies, and the dynamic U.S. sanctions landscape. Finding these topics covered in our newsletter should not be surprising to our readers—we have always aimed to provide timely and relevant analysis of the issues that are important to our clients.

This issue of Mainbrace is no different. Perhaps most importantly, the #MeToo movement has spurred a long-overdue discussion of the role of women in the maritime industry and the many challenges they face, both shipboard and in the home office. In their article, Susan Bickley, Emery Richards, and Jeanne Grasso overview of this topic, both from the vantage point of the employee and the employer.

Additionally, Sean Pribyl addresses new developments in the industry’s inexorable march towards autonomous vessels; Jon Waldron and Joan Bondareff discuss recent developments that strongly indicate that offshore wind is finally moving from concept to mainstream project in the United States; and Joan and Jeanne highlight some of the issues arising from the massive (and growing) island of plastic circling the Pacific Ocean.

We also bring you a roundup of recent developments in the maritime litigation world, including raising new questions about when a defendant may be “found” in a district for purposes of maritime attachment under Rule B (Thomas Belknap and Noe Hamra); what constitutes a safe port in the modern world (Emma Jones); and when a “knock for knock” indemnity agreement may be enforceable under maritime law in oil and gas exploration contracts (David Meyer). And Mike Schaedle and Rick Antonoff from our Firm’s bankruptcy group discuss a recent decision concerning chapter 15 of the bankruptcy code, relating to recognizing foreign main proceedings.

Lastly, I am very excited to announce the launch of our maritime blog, Safe Passage, where readers can find archives of articles from our Mainbrace newsletter and also our maritime development advisories. Articles are sorted both chronologically and by broad topic area to make the blog not only easy to peruse, but also a useful research resource.

We hope you find this issue interesting and informative. As always, we welcome any comments and, particularly, ideas for future articles.

What #MeToo Means for the Maritime World

Susan L. Bickley, Emery G. Richards, and Jeanne M. Grasso

The #MeToo movement has shone new attention on issues for employers in the maritime industry seeking to ensure that seafarers and shore-based personnel can participate in a work environment free of sexual harassment and assault, both ship­board and shoreside. Employees at sea, often for months at a time, can face special challenges associated with a work envi­ronment that can be thousands of miles away from any home office, lead to feelings of isolation, make communications dif­ficult, involve close proximity between work spaces and living quarters, and generally require employees to remain at the workplace during rest periods.

In other sectors of the global maritime industry, companies engaged in inter­national business can find themselves navigating scenarios that arise from expec­tations regarding workplace interactions between men and women that are as diverse as their workforces. We examine here the unique legal framework that applies to sexual harassment in the mar­itime context, what to keep in mind for addressing incidents, and recent trends regarding steps employers are currently taking in response. Continue reading “What #MeToo Means for the Maritime World”

Stronger Winds Blowing Off the Atlantic Coast

Joan M. Bondareff and Jonathan K. Waldron

 We are seeing strong signs of a burgeoning offshore wind industry off the Atlantic Seaboard. While modest, the first offshore wind project, Deepwater Wind, is fully operational in Rhode Island state waters, bringing low-cost renewable energy to the residents of Block Island. In addition, new projects in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, described further below, are setting the stage for the construction of much larger offshore wind farms in federal waters. From Maine to North Carolina, governors and states are lining up to be a part of the offshore wind revolution. This is good news for developers, suppliers, consumers, and the environment.

Why This Is Happening Now

There are several reasons why offshore wind is taking off now. In the first place, the price of offshore wind is coming down—largely based on Europe’s expe­rience with offshore wind and bringing this experience to the United States as lessees, partners, and contractors, as well as the development of improved and more efficient turbines and other related technologies. Indeed, European developers and contractors are now looking to part­ner with U.S. interests. In addition, companies are finding ways to work within the framework of the Jones Act, as discussed in more detail below. Continue reading “Stronger Winds Blowing Off the Atlantic Coast”