KWM dedicates substantial energy to the area of admiralty and maritime law, as well as ground and air transportation law. The firm advises some of the Midwest’s largest shippers on their transportation and related agreements with motor, rail and water carriers such as standard motor carriage agreements, rail agreements, bills of lading, rate agreements, other contracts of affreightment, contractual terms and conditions, service contracts and contracts to charter barge flotillas or ocean-going vessels. In addition, KWM has successfully represented such clients as Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd., Carnival Corporation, Celebrity Cruises, Canodros, S.A. and Radisson Seven Seas on matters relating to jurisdiction and venue, such as transferring these cases based on forum-selection clauses or the lack of minimum contacts with the United States.

The firm has substantial experience with transportation related litigation, including claims for cargo damage, fire, unseaworthiness, non-payment of freight, deadfreight, indemnity, repatriation of deserters, personal injury or union claims for stevedoring services allegedly provided. KWM has been designated the correspondent attorneys for the Norwegian protection and indemnity club Assuranceforeningen Gard in the Port of Chicago and frequently handles allision, arbitration, freight, cargo damage and personal injury claims for some of the world’s largest fleets in three Great Lakes and the Upper Mississippi and Ohio River Valleys. Our firm also has arrested and attached vessels and cargoes for non-payment of freight or property damage throughout the United States, and advises numerous clients on their maritime affairs, including compliance with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permitting.

Representative Matters

  • Obtained Summary Judgment related to limitation of liability under the Carmack Amendment.
  • Dismissal of consignee’s cargo damage claim against vessel and her owners because charter party, incorporated by reference in the bills of lading, required that arbitration be brought in London within one year of the loss.
  • Perzy v. Intercargo Corporation – Great-grandson of the inventor of Schneekugeln (you know, those water-filled globes you shake to get the snow to fall on some adorable scene) recovers loss after freak Siberian cold front causes globes to explode, despite insurance company’s contention that expansion of water in freezing temperatures constituted an “inherent vice.”
  • Defended injunctive action brought by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to limit the number of piers marina could place in the Fox River.
  • Prosecuting replevin and damages action against parties which wrongfully took possession of Chinese cargo.
  • Defend Flotilla owner which removed and reinstalled dolphins in the Chicago River and alleged eight months later to have caused the April 13, 1992 Chicago Flood, and achieved limitation of liability pursuant to the 1850 admiralty statute. This currently is the United States Supreme Court’s leading case on admiralty jurisdiction. (With McDermott, Will & Emery.)
  • Represented the world’s oldest active shipyard which built, among other vessels, the NINA, PINTA, SANTA MARIA and AMOCO CADIZ. Case involved the 1978 oil spill off the Brittany Coast.