TMA Bodily Injury Seminar - 15th & 16th September

The Thomas Miller Americas Bodily Injury Team Round Table brought together our Members' executives, both here in the United States and abroad, who have a special focus on bodily injury issues.

The programme addressed specific litigation and P&I cover issues in respect of piracy before the main sessions on criminal and civil issues from an investigating attorney's point of view and best practice in deposition.

Member feedback from last year's event was a key influence in designing this seminar and the feedback this year confirmed that the topics targeted their points of interest.

Mike Fernandez of Freehill Hogan & Mahar in New York and Greg Linsin of Blank Rome in Washington, DC led the two topics respectively. Gary Hemphill of Phelps, Dunbar in New Orleans organized and prepared the session on best practices for interview and depositions.

Investigation into shipboard incidents involves compliance and co-operation with a number of different parties and regulations. Incident involving apparently purely civil liability issues can quickly acquire a criminal law dimension. Mike Fernandez guided the seminar through the Civil issues P&I attorneys face and the need to be keenly aware of potential criminal issues and involve criminal defense counsel as necessary. Mike also discussed the role of various investigators such as the US Coast Guard, National Transportation Safety Board and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Greg Linsen discussed a shipboard investigation into criminal issues arising out of a casualty and the different role criminal counsel plays to that of the P&I /Civil investigating attorney(s). Mike and Greg's presentation was based on a hypothetical ship casualty involving an explosion, death and injury on a ship which was crafted together with the BI Team. They also used video taped examples based on the hypotethetical and prepared by Gary Hemphill of how interview techniques can create or exacerbate criminal problems for Owners and Managers.

Questions of production evidence and the protections and privileges available to owners were developed together with the practical difficulties of access and communications. Claims executives can assist investigating attorneys by alerting the Master to what documents they need in advance of the P&I Lawyer boarding the ship; what types of electronically stored information will they require and how they preserve it.

Our Round Table events have attracted increasing numbers of attendees from non-US Members providing an even more varied and rewarding cross-section of maritime and legal expertise. Example incidents were chosen for practical case study that addressed the issues faced by all our Members, regardless of whether their fleets are US or foreign flag.

There was time in the evening and over lunch for everyone to get to know each other and pursue informal discussion of these and other liability issues.

Staff Author