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PORTS

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 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.

Represented a foreign-based shipping company in negotiating vessel construction contracts with major international shipyards in Korea, Japan and China.

Federal Maritime Commission v. South Carolina State Ports Authority, 535 U.S. 743 (2002) 
Thompson Coburn successfully represented the SCSPA before the United States Supreme Court. States and their instrumentalities are entitled to sovereign immunity in proceedings before federal administrative tribunals. A vessel operator filed a complaint at the Federal Maritime Commission against the SCSPA. The Administrative Law Judge dismissed the complaint on the basis of the state’s sovereign immunity reflected in the 11th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Commission itself reversed. We petitioned for review by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and secured a unanimous decision reversing the Commission. The Federal Maritime Commission, joined by the Solicitor General, filed a Petition for Certiorari, which was granted. We successfully argued that the principle of state sovereign immunity reflected in the 11th Amendment transcended its literal language to apply to proceedings before federal agencies and was not limited to cases filed in Article III courts. The decision, one of the most significant in perhaps the oldest line of Supreme Court cases, affirms the dual sovereignty inherent in our federal system of government.

 

 

Partner
Washington, D.C.
202 585 6985

Jonathan's practice is focused on domestic and international maritime and shipping matters, as well as international trade regulation issues that are incidental to the gl...

Jonathan's practice is focused on domestic and international maritime and s...

Jonathan Benner
Partner
St. Louis
314 552 6455

Cherie represents financial institutions and borrowers in various secured and unsecured lending transactions.

Cherie represents financial institutions and borrowers in various secured a...

Cherie Bock
Partner
St. Louis
314 552 6377

Ed serves as a key tax advisor to companies embarking on any type of corporate restructuring, from acquisitions and dispositions to spinoffs and management changes.

Ed serves as a key tax advisor to companies embarking on any type of corpor...

Ed Buchholz
Partner
Washington, D.C.
202 585 6908

Warren focuses on federal regulation of business, both domestic and international, and represents several of the nation's largest transportation and energy interests befo...

Warren focuses on federal regulation of business, both domestic and interna...

Warren Dean, Jr.
Partner
St. Louis
314 552 6028

For more than 40 years, Don has counseled clients in connection with mergers and acquisitions as well as corporate and commercial transactions.

For more than 40 years, Don has counseled clients in connection with merger...

Don Dorwart
Associate
Southern Illinois
618 236 3424

Misty represents companies facing litigation in high-risk venues across southern Illinois.

Misty represents companies facing litigation in high-risk venues across sou...

Misty Edwards
Partner
Washington, D.C.
202 585 6912

Matt practices in the firm's Transportation and International Commerce group, focusing on maritime and trade finance and related United States government guarantee progra...

Matt practices in the firm's Transportation and International Commerce grou...

Matthew Kaiser
Partner
Washington, D.C.
202 585 6913

Margie's practice spans more than 30 years representing borrowers, lenders, lessors, and lessees in structuring, negotiating, and closing financing transactions, includin...

Margie's practice spans more than 30 years representing borrowers, lenders,...

Margie Krumholz
Partner
St. Louis
314 552 6070

Rick advises companies and individuals on a variety of federal (domestic and international), state and local tax matters.

Rick advises companies and individuals on a variety of federal (domestic an...

Rick Lawton
Partner
Washington, D.C.
202 585 6976

With 25 years of experience in the transportation industry, Sean helps his clients navigate through and maintain compliance with the complex web of federal regulations af...

With 25 years of experience in the transportation industry, Sean helps his ...

Sean McGowan
Senior Counsel
St. Louis
314 552 6092

Michael's practice includes substantial experience in tort and commercial litigation in state and federal courts.

Michael's practice includes substantial experience in tort and commercial l...

Michael O'Keefe
Associate
Washington, D.C.
202 585 6982

Lough litigates disputes on behalf of states, local government entities, corporations, and individuals, in both federal and state forums.

Lough litigates disputes on behalf of states, local government entities, co...

Lough Potter
Partner
St. Louis
314 552 6109

Peter has over 25 years of experience in environmental law and handles a wide range of environmental matters, including CERCLA cost recovery litigation, insurance coverag...

Peter has over 25 years of experience in environmental law and handles a wi...

Peter Strassner
Partner
Southern Illinois
618 236 3411

For nearly 20 years, Erick has defended product liability, toxic tort, and railroad injury cases in some of the most difficult jurisdictions in the country.

For nearly 20 years, Erick has defended product liability, toxic tort, and ...

Erick VanDorn