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Maritime Proctor Blog

Admiralty and Maritime Law Blog

Maritime Proctor Blog

As a practicing attorney at Chamberlain Hrdlicka in Houston, the focus of my practice is two-fold: I represent companies and individuals in civil litigation. I also do extensive work (of both a litigation and transactional nature) in the Admiralty, Maritime, and Energy fields.

I have been licensed to practice law since 2003. During that time, I've first and second chaired several trials to verdicts, as well as handled hundreds of other cases to amicable resolutions.

I'm a product of public schools, specifically Friendswood High School in Friendswood, Texas (Class of 1996), The University of Texas at Austin (BA-2000), and The University of Texas School of Law (JD - 2003).

Texas Super Lawyers magazine named me as a “Texas Super Lawyer” in the field of Transportation/Maritime Law in 2019 and 2020. Prior to turning 40, I was recognized by Super Lawyers as a Transportation/Maritime Law “Rising Star” from 2011-2018. In the past, both H-Texas Magazine and Houstonia Magazine named me as a “Top Lawyer in Houston” in the field of Admiralty and Maritime Law.

View my complete profile

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Most casual sports fans in the United States are familiar with the concept of professional teams trading players.  With respect to the American Pastime of baseball, one of the most consequential trades in Houston sports history involved a good to great relief pitcher named Larry Anderson.  The Boston Red Sox needed pitching help, and the Astros wanted young talent. 

So, in 1990, the Red Sox sent a skinny third baseman playing at the AA level to the Astros in exchange for a rental of Anderson (who was a free agent at the end of the season) to help in their playoff run.  The Red Sox made the playoffs ...

Discussions of generations – or more particularly how members of one generation can relate to members of another generation – dominate discussions of how businesses operate,[1] jury selection,[2] and even familial relations.[3]  Famed German sociologist Karl Mannheim published Das Problem Der Generationen (translated as “The Problem of Generations”) in 1928.  Mannheim’s central thesis is that generations have similar formative experiences in their youth that unite people across gender, class, race, or other classifications to have a shared, common ...

Lewis Black, the famous comedian, hypothesized in his 2002 comedy album “The End of the Universe” that the end of the universe was not far out in space.  Rather, it was in Houston, at the corner of West Gray and Shepherd. 

At that intersection, on the south side of West Gray was a Starbucks in a strip mall.  On the north side of West Gray is a stand-alone Starbucks.  Black even put a photo of both Starbucks on the cover of the album.

Later on, a Barnes & Noble was built on the north side of West Gray at the same intersection.  And inside the Barnes & Noble, with a view of both Starbucks was … another ...

Categories: Admiralty, Maritime Law

If you have ever sat for a deposition, it can be an extremely stressful experience, especially to someone  who has never given sworn testimony before. You are unfamiliar with the process. There is a (sometimes angry) attorney trying to get information from you.

Arbitration Contracts for Seaman – When Are They Feasible and Appropriate?

Maritime employers, particularly those who own or operate vessels, are always cognizant of the potential for lawsuits for personal injuries and wrongful death.  In the non-personal injury context, utilization of arbitration clauses is a growing trend in both commercial and employment disputes.  It is most common to see an arbitration clause in an employment agreement, signed by both parties, which ostensibly remove disputes from state or federal courts (and juries) and instead submits claims to ...

Dutra Group v. Batterton: the Supreme Court holds a Jones Act Seaman cannot recover punitive damages for unseaworthiness

Decisions where courts ultimately awarded some form of punitive or exemplary damages litter Admiralty and Maritime jurisprudence in the United States.  A question that has long vexed lower courts is: whether a Jones Act seaman can recover punitive damages for grossly unseaworthy conduct on the part of the shipowner?  As of Monday, we now have the answer to this extremely important question.

General Background

On Monday, June 24, the Supreme Court of the United ...

We continue our discussion of one of the oldest remedies available to a personal injury plaintiff – that of maintenance and cure.

Last week, we began with an overview of maintenance and cure benefits, and analyzed a new Fifth Circuit decision concerning cross-claiming defendants and whether one had to partially or totally indemnify the other for payments made of maintenance and cure, even if the injury for which the payments were made was deemed unrelated to the accident giving rise to the litigation.  In the decision of In re 4-K Marine, L.L.C.,[1] the Fifth Circuit said such was not ...

Categories: Admiralty

It’s another #MaritimeMonday, so we will continue our discussion of maintenance and cure benefits.  Two weeks ago, we analyzed a recent decision from the Fifth Circuit – In re 4-K Marine, L.L.C.,[1] after a brief overview of the nuts and bolts of a maintenance and cure claim.  Last week we discussed defenses to a claim for maintenance and cure benefits.

Today, we focus on a framework articulated by the Fifth Circuit over 30 years ago – the three-tiered damages model for maintenance and cure.  Notably, the 4-K Marine panel reaffirmed the viability of that decision, Morales v. Garijak ...

Categories: Admiralty, Maritime Law

We pause in our maintenance and cure discussion (for one day) to address a new, hot-off-the-press decision from the Supreme Court of the United States authored by Justice Brett Kavanaugh: Air & Liquid Sys. Corp. v. Devries, 2019 U.S. LEXIS 2087, No. 17-110 (March 19, 2019).

 Facts & Relevant Background

In the underlying litigation, the plaintiffs (Kenneth McAfee and John DeVries) served in the U.S. Navy at various period of time – McAfee from 1977 to 1986 aboard 2 vessels, and DeVries from 1957-1960 aboard one vessel.  Each of these vessels utilized different mechanical equipment ...

This week’s blog post deals with a new soon-to-be reported decision from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, In re 4-K Marine, LL.C..  Citation is pending, but the case can be accessed through Lexis at 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 3095 or through the Fifth Circuit’s website, which can be found here.  The case number is 18-30348.

The primary issue before the Fifth Circuit deals with one of the oldest remedies available in Admiralty law – that of maintenance and cure owed to a seaman.  To give In re 4-K Marine proper treatment, one must have an understanding of this ancient remedy.

This decision ...