Thompson Coburn represents public port authorities and private marine terminal operators throughout the U.S. Our attorneys counsel ports on issues relating to development, public procurements, marine terminal leases and operating agreements, port security, port tariff provisions and rates, free trade zones, short sea shipping, privatization and port railroads.
We have advised ports on collateral issues such as bankruptcy and collection, regulatory compliance, and employment and environmental issues (including both air and water). Our team also handles admiralty, customs and public finance matters for port clients. We work with all of the federal agencies involved with ports, including the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC), the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) (including Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Coast Guard), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Surface Transportation Board. Our port clients have ranged in size from the South Carolina State Ports Authority to smaller ports, such as Bridgeport, Connecticut; Lake Charles, Louisiana; and the Port of Indiana at Burns International Harbor.
We are especially skilled in litigation involving ports and have wide-ranging experience in cases at the FMC, as well as in federal and state courts. This litigation has included exclusive port franchises, alleged refusals to deal, unfair and unreasonable practices, and the legality of port tariff rates and terms. Our attorneys argued and won a landmark Supreme Court decision upholding the sovereign immunity of state ports authorities in private actions for damages at the FMC. See Federal Maritime Commission v. South Carolina Ports Authority, 535 U.S. 743 (2002).
Our team has hands-on business experience and strong contacts in the port industry, and we are active members of the American Association of Port Authorities.