Transportation Law

Clark Hill transportation attorneys have extensive experience in all aspects of the transportation industry – with involvement that began with our predecessor firms work with the maritime, aviation and trucking industries. A significant wealth of experience that spans generations - Clark Hill attorneys and other professional have the perspective needed to counsel our clients on the ever-increasing intermodal nature of transportation – nationally and globally.

We serve a diverse body of transportation clients, ranging from over-the-road trucking companies to airlines, railroads, consolidators, maritime vessels, customs brokers, expediters, storage facilities and logistics companies. While we continue to represent clients before multiple governmental agencies such as the National Labor Relations Board, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Department of Transportation, Department of Labor, Department of Civil Rights, Department of Immigration and Naturalization Service, and the United States Customs Service, our practice is increasingly moving in the direction of assistance to businesses challenged by the demands of delivering commercial goods in interstate and foreign commerce in a timely and cost efficient manner. This diverse client base involves Clark Hill in an increasing variety of matters, ranging from freight claims and accidents to labor negotiations, environmental matters, to mergers and acquisitions.

Clark Hill's transportation team is constantly updating their knowledge and experience in the transportation industry through practice before state and federal courts, administrative agencies and through participation in a number of transportation conferences and associations. These organizations include the Michigan Trucking Association, Transportation Lawyers Association, Conference of Freight Counsel, Maritime Law Association, National Association of Railroad Trial Counsel, Transportation Industry Defense Association, North American Transportation Employee Relations Association, American Trucking Associations and the Canadian Transport Lawyers Association. We are also a member of Globalaw & Mackrell International through which we coordinate the needs of our clients for legal representation in commercial countries of the world.

Our attorneys and other professionals have a broad understanding of the transportation industry and are dedicated to providing quality and timely assistance on all transportation matters. Whether your matter involves a routine accident, freight claim, an employment matter or a complex intermodal master agreement or financing transaction, we are committed to responding immediately and with the most advanced technology and industry contacts to assist you in concluding your transportation business promptly and in a cost-efficient manner.

Areas of expertise:

  •  Admiralty & Maritime
  •  Aviation
  •  Consolidators
  •  Customs Brokers
  •  Logistics Providers
  •  Over The Road Haulers
  •  Railroads

 

Admiralty & Maritime Law

Marine Cargo Claims:  Whether cargo is loaded or discharged from any common carrier vessel in Michigan, Northern Ohio, Southern Ontario or surrounding environs, Clark Hill has the experience and resources to handle any claims arising out of the carriage, custody or control of the goods. Services provided include the investigation of cargo damage, rust or contamination claims, counseling on best shipment practices, adjusting of claims prior to litigation, and representing the maritime client in federal or state court to prosecute or defend any manner of cargo claims.

Collisions/Allisions:  Clark Hill attorneys have represented numerous vessel owners as well as the owners of bridges and other land based property in a wide variety of collision and allision causes of action. This includes, but is not limited to the initial investigation of such incidents, taking of witness statements and interaction with governmental agencies such as the Coast Guard, the EPA and international authorities. Such representation can also include discovery, litigation, negotiation and settlement of the myriad of claims that may arise in collision and allision cases.

Maritime Liens:  Clark Hill attorneys have an extensive record of experience in the attachment and enforcement of maritime liens, and few firms in the region have more experience.. The maritime client may require counseling as to the type of vessel subject to maritime liens, the imposition of such liens under federal law or advice on the proper procedures for enforcement of such a lien. Other clients require the prosecution of in rem federal court actions for the enforcement or foreclosure of maritime liens. Such enforcement may include the issuance of a warrant of arrest for a vessel by the United States Marshal's office. Thereafter, the firm will move expeditiously toward the establishment and perfection of proper security by the debtor and/or the payment of the outstanding maritime lien. Firm attorneys are available to successfully negotiate all aspects of the establishment and satisfaction of maritime liens.

Salvage Claims:  Clark Hill attorneys have represented vessel owners as well as salvage companies with respect to the marine salvage of commercial and recreational vessels. Issues that may arise include, but are not limited to, the calculation of the salvor's claim, value of the salved vessel, reasonableness of the salvage claim, the appropriateness of applying salvage principles to recreational vessels and the prosecution and enforcement of maritime liens for salvage activity.

Personal Injury Actions:  Maritime personal injury actions are usually of two types. An injured seaman acting as a crewmember on a vessel has a claim, by virtue of the incorporation of the Federal Employer's Liability Act (FELA) into the Jones Act. Where a maritime employee is not acting in the capacity as a seaman but in the capacity as a Stevedore, claims may be brought under the federal Longshoremen's and Harbor Worker's Claims Act. Clark Hill attorneys are experienced in defending such claims in both state and federal courts and the Department of Labor.

Marine Financing:  Clark Hill attorneys have much experience with respect to the sale and purchase of maritime vessels. Many businesses and vessel owners have been counseled with respect to the benefits and restrictions of vessel documentation under United States law. Eligibility (as it relates to vessels) and ownership citizenship requirements must be clear prior to the sale or purchase of either a commercial or recreational vessel. Marine financing of vessel purchases is a related area. Representation is optimal for any vessel financing whether or not it includes a first preferred or other type of ship mortgage or other financing procedures. Clark Hill attorneys are well experienced in such commercial transactions and can provide a full range of representation in this regard.

Commercial Transactions:  Shipping and related maritime activities constitute complicated business enterprises. While certainly admiralty and maritime issues abound in the operation of such an enterprise, general business, labor and employment and other laws, rules and regulations also exist which govern or control the maritime client. Clark Hill has a full array of expertise in any ancillary business issues, including intellectual property, that may arise for the Admiralty or Maritime client. As a full service law firm, we offer all clients responsive, efficient and quality legal services.

 

Experience

Advised an investor concerning potential liability from owning and operating a waste transport company

Represent an automobile parts supplier trade association concerning its potential environmental liability from emissions and releases during the normal use of the product

Provided advice to tire manufacturers regarding TREAD Act compliance issues

Evaluated reporting obligations and potential recall obligations for numerous companies, including tire manufacturers

Advised tire manufacturers and the industry trade association in connection with tire recalls and customer satisfaction programs, labeling and disclosure, applicability of NHTSA regulations if products not in compliance with NHTSA regulations are returned to the country of origin, methods of methods of protecting the confidential information

Represented Conrail Corporation in PCB remediation Superfund action at the Paoli rail yard

While at EPA, brought an enforcement action against railroad due to the contamination at its rail yard

Assisted a national trade association in drafting pre-emption language for an amendment to a federal energy efficiency provision

Representation of a railroad logistics company in the acquisition of an intermodal logistics company.

Representation of a railroad logistics company in the acquisition of a trucking logistics company.

Advising automotive suppliers in the analysis, negotiation and modification of OEM and Tier 1 customer purchasing terms and conditions

Currently defending a trucking company in a personal injury claim arising from an accident in Wayne County, Michigan.

Advising a multinational mining products manufacturer on the restructuring of its global supply chain. 

Advising a Tier 1 automotive supplier on the dissolution of a global logistics joint venture with an OEM. 

Acquisition and Development of Distribution Facility. Representation of a national developer in connection with the negotiation and drafting of documentation connected with site acquisition, development, construction financing and a triple net lease of the site and improvements to a national sporting goods retailer.
Counsel to a financial institution in connection with a $90,000,000 credit facility which included a $50,000,000 revolving credit facility and a $40,000,000 term loan facility for a holding company that owns and operates various equipment manufacturers and a marine transportation provider. The credit facilities provided for the recapitalization of the holding company and for working capital for the holding company and its subsidiaries and are secured by liens on all of the marine transportation provider's assets which include, among other things, various vessels, some of which were documented by the United States Secretary of Transportation.
Counsel to a financial institution in connection with a $90,000,000 credit facility which included a $50,000,000 revolving credit facility and a $40,000,000 term loan facility for a holding company that owns and operates various equipment manufacturers and a marine transportation provider. The credit facilities provided for the recapitalization of the holding company and for working capital for the holding company and its subsidiaries and are secured by liens on all of the marine transportation provider's assets which include, among other things, various vessels, some of which were documented by the United States Secretary of Transportation