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Jonathan Benner


Washington, D.C.
202 585 6985 direct

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 global movement of goods and commodities.

His practice has included high-profile environmental litigation centered on the operation of vessels, particularly tank vessels, and port air pollution issues. These cases include constitutional challenges in various federal courts to state and local regulation of maritime activity. One of these cases, Intertanko v. Locke (consolidated for argument with United States v. Locke), 529 U.S. 89 (2000), has become a lead case in maritime constitutional preemption issues. Jonathan successfully argued this case for international shipping interests before the Supreme Court of the United States.

Jonathan's practice includes representation of major U.S. ports in addressing legal and regulatory issues concerning environmental issues and improvements to port infrastructure. He also represents vessel operators, maritime trade associations, international marine insurers, cruise operators and investment entities. Jonathan's practice also is nationally recognized for its work before the Federal Maritime Commission and the United States Coast Guard. In 2009, the Federal Bar Association awarded him its "Transportation Lawyer of the Year" award for "superb leadership and immeasurable contributions" in his field.

Chambers Global has described Jonathan in its national rankings of shipping lawyers as "a premier practitioner [who] has earned credibility and respect within the industry sector... 'he combines excellent strategic sense and top-notch negotiation skills with a strong presence in court'."

Jonathan served as a trial attorney, appellate attorney and as General Counsel of the Federal Maritime Commission. After leaving the federal government in 1984, he founded the firm Benner, Burnett & Coleman, with offices in Washington, DC and San Francisco. This firm eventually merged with Haight Gardner Poor & Havens, and Jonathan was the Managing Partner of the Washington, DC office.

Thompson Coburn Publications

A critique of current federal regulation of marine terminal operators


"Shippers, are you ready for SOLAS' verified container weight mandate?"
April 4, 2016


17 Thompson Coburn attorneys recognized in 2019 Chambers USA

44 Thompson Coburn attorneys included on Super Lawyers lists for Washington D.C., Southern California and Illinois

23 Thompson Coburn attorneys recognized in 2016 Chambers USA

25 Thompson Coburn attorneys recognized in 2015 Chambers USA

9 TC attorneys appear on 2014 Super Lawyers list for Washington D.C.

27 Thompson Coburn attorneys recognized in 2014 Chambers USA

Federal Maritime Commission decides administrative action over ‘split routing’

U.S. Supreme Court unanimously sides with position of Thompson Coburn airline client

Thompson Coburn files U.S. Supreme Court brief for international airline group

Jonathan Benner, former Federal Bar ‘Transportation Lawyer of the Year,’ joins Thompson Coburn’s D.C. office