Maritime/Admiralty Litigation

What is Maritime Litigation?

Maritime litigation involves the interpretation of maritime law, which is also referred to as admiralty law. Maritime law is a group of laws, treaties, and conventions that govern a variety of nautical matters including maritime business agreements, shipping and lading, and criminal and civil offenses that occur on open water. Maritime or admiralty law also regulates more practical water-based matters including boat registration and licensure, maritime inspections, maritime liability and cargo insurance, shipping procedures, shipping contracts, and more.

While maritime law governs based on similar conventions to land laws, it is a completely separate code of laws that any business or individual needs to understand if they are operating in any way on open water. Some specific maritime matters governed by maritime law include:

• Maritime injuries including slip and falls, falling overboard, being struck by a falling or moving object, and more
• Limitation of Ship-owners Liability
• Salvage Cases
• On-vessel arrests
• Petitory and Possession Actions
• And more…

In many cases, especially when dealing with complex maritime issues, it may be worth it to bring the specific matter to court via a specialized maritime attorney. Contact Conrad & Scherer’s Fort Lauderdale maritime law attorneys for a confidential consultation to help you navigate the complex maritime legal environment.

Maritime Litigation in Fort Lauderdale

South Florida, and specifically Fort Lauderdale, is among the maritime capitals of the United States and the world. As a result, more maritime cases are presented in the greater South Florida region than many other places in the United States. It is critical to partner with a maritime attorney team that possesses the skills, experience, and resources required to litigate these specialized cases. Common maritime law cases in South Florida can be broken down into three main categories:

• Maritime personal injury
• Cruise ship accidents
• Marine vessel purchases and sales

Fort Lauderdale Marine Personal Injury

Injuries that occur in the open ocean or on another body of water can be very frightening, as these injuries occur in an isolated environment but often require immediate medical attention. If you do experience a severe injury during a commercial or personal maritime activity, you will likely want or need to seek financial indemnification for your pain and suffering along with any medical expenses incurred as a result. However, it is important to understand how being injured in a marine environment as opposed to being injured on land can affect your potential personal injury case.

If you do become injured in a maritime environment, you must approach the legal circumstances using a unique analysis compared to the legal analysis you would perform if you were injured on land. For instance, you must first determine if maritime jurisdiction applies, and if so, how it may affect the legal liability and/or ability to recover damages. Furthermore, if the incident occurred during a commercial maritime event, you may be bound by the governing state’s Worker’s Compensation law.

Your unique maritime circumstances will likely have some impact on your ability to recover damages and the amount that you are able to recover, so it is important to consult a firm with maritime experience prior to pursuing your case. The attorneys at Conrad & Scherer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida have several decades of combined experience litigating maritime personal injury cases. Conrad & Scherer’s maritime attorneys’ experience with marine personal injury claims can help identify nuances and remedy issues that attorneys without extensive maritime experience may miss.

Trust Conrad & Scherer’s Experienced Maritime Attorneys
Conrad & Scherer’s maritime attorneys have been serving Fort Lauderdale and the greater South Florida community for more than 45 years. Our diverse team has vast experience litigating large, small, complex, and simple maritime law cases across the entire state of Florida and beyond. Conrad & Scherer also operates offices in several other states including New York and North Carolina, and our firm also operates an office in Quito, Ecuador. If you, a close relative, or friend needs legal advice or representation for a maritime or admiralty legal matter, call the professional attorneys at Conrad & Scherer today. Our team of experienced attorneys will guide you and help find the most favorable outcome for your specific set of circumstances.

    • University of Miami School of Law, Juris Doctor, magna cum laude, 2010
    • University of California at Berkeley, Bachelor of Arts, 2003
    • Florida Bar, 2010
    • United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Florida
    • United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida
    • United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida



    Russell O’Brien is a Partner in the Firm’s Fort Lauderdale office and concentrates his practice on contract disputes, securities litigation, fraud (misrepresentation, inducement, transfers, aiding and abetting and conspiracy), fiduciary relationships and business torts, shareholder disputes (direct and derivative), and class action defense. He also has experience in admiralty law, including vessel acquisitions and sales, vessel refurbishment and repair, vessel charter, and foreclosing and defending against necessaries liens and first preferred ship mortgages.

    Russell is the Firm’s Administrative Partner and manages the Firm’s eDiscovery department. He regularly advises corporate clients regarding eDiscovery planning and protocols, e-Retention, and litigation concerning eDiscovery disputes.

    Russell has represented Fortune 500 companies, small businesses and individuals in both jury and bench trials, and has wide-ranging courtroom experience in both state and federal court. Prior to joining Conrad & Scherer, Mr. O’Brien practiced at an AM 100 law firm, primarily representing financial institutions in class action litigation.

    Community Involvement/Affiliations
    • Broward County Bar Association
    • 17th Judicial Circuit Grievance Committee Member, since 2018
    • Recognized as a Best Lawyer: Ones To Watch in Commercial Litigation for The Best Lawyers in America©, 2021 – 2022
    • Recognized as a Best Lawyer: Ones To Watch in Litigation – Banking and Finance for The Best Lawyers in America©, 2022
    • Selected as a “Top Lawyer” by Fort Lauderdale Illustrated Magazine for Securities Regulation, 2021
    • Selected as a “Top Lawyer” by Fort Lauderdale Illustrated Magazine for Admiralty & Maritime Law, 2020 – 2021
    • Listed in South Florida Legal Guide, “Top Up & Comer” for Commercial Litigation, 2021
    • Listed as one of the “FACES of Fort Lauderdale” in High-Stakes Litigation by Fort Lauderdale Illustrated Magazine, 2021
    • Selected as Florida Super Lawyers®, “Rising Star”, 2020
    • Listed as one of the “FACES of Fort Lauderdale” in Complex Commercial Litigation by Fort Lauderdale Illustrated Magazine, 2020
    • Listed in Attorney At Law Magazine, “Rising Star”, 2018
    Notable Experience
    • Represented fortune 500 insurance company against Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. for aiding and abetting fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud in connection with multi-million dollar insurance fraud scheme.
    • Represented jet engine manufacturer in breach of lease claim and obtained prejudgment writ of attachment on commercial aircraft
    • Appeared before SEC for extensive attorney proffers and client interview in connection with violations of Rule 10b of the Exchange Act
    • Represented company in jury trial for breach of yacht charter management agreement and fines incurred while yacht was in French waters
    • Represented South American business and individuals in cross-border dispute, including challenges to personal jurisdiction and service of process issues under Peruvian law
    • Defended multiple insurance companies in class actions in connection with Florida’s No-Fault insurance statute, including negotiating settlement, final fairness hearings, and issues regarding notice to class members
    • University of Florida Levin College of Law, J.D., cum laude, 2018
    • Florida Atlantic University, B.A., cum laude, 2014
    • Florida Bar, 2018
    • District of Columbia Bar, 2021

    Michael J. Mariani is an Associate in the firm’s Fort Lauderdale office, where he assists partners and senior associates in a variety of complex commercial litigation matters.

    Prior to joining the firm, Michael spent the first three years of his legal career at a boutique securities litigation firm in Tampa, Florida, where he represented broker-dealers, registered investment advisors, and their associated persons in all phases of FINRA arbitration relating to customer disputes involving alleged violations of federal securities laws, unsuitability, unauthorized trading, churning, overconcentration, and unauthorized margin borrowing. Michael also counseled businesses and individuals during DOJ, SEC, and CFTC investigations and enforcement proceedings.

    Michael obtained his law degree cum laude from the University of Florida Levin College of Law where he was a member of the Florida Moot Court Team. While in law school, Michael interned for the Honorable William P. Dimitrouleas, United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. As a 2L, Michael was selected to compete in the 31st Annual Zimmerman Kiser Sutcliffe Final Four Moot Court Competition in front of a panel of federal and state judges where he was awarded both Best Overall and Best Oralist.

    In addition to serving as the Internal Vice-President and Chair for Intermural Competitions for the Florida Moot Court Team. Michael also competed in several competitions including the National Moot Court Competition hosted by the New York City Bar where his team made the final four and finished with the second-highest brief score in the region. For his contributions to the team, Michael was awarded the William C. Gaither Memorial Award as a 2L and was inducted into the Order of Barristers as a 3L.

    As a 3L, Michael was selected to compete in the prestigious Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot. Prior to competing in the preliminary rounds in Vienna, Austria, the team traveled to Paris, France to compete in various pre-moots including the International Chamber of Commerce Vis Pre-Moot where his team finished 1st Place beating out 24 other teams including Columbia University and University of Cambridge. Michael graduated cum laude from Florida Atlantic University with a degree in Criminal Justice.

    Community Involvement/Affiliations
    • Federal Bar Association, Broward Chapter, Board of Directors – Present
    • Broward County Bar Association – Present
    • University of Florida Levin College of Law – Dean’s List Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Fall 2017
    • Best Overall, 31stAnnual ZKS Final Four Moot Court Competition
    • Best Oralist, 31stAnnual ZKS Final Four Moot Court Competition
    • Order of Barristers
    • William C. Gaither Memorial Award, Florida Moot Court Team
    • Runner-Up Best Brief, 2016 National Moot Court Competition, Regionals
    • 1stPlace Team, ICC Vis Pre-Moot, Paris
    • 2ndPlace Team, DLA Piper Vis Pre-Moot, Paris
    • 2ndPlace Team, Richard DeWitt Memorial Vis Pre-Moot, Miami
    • Book Award, Legal Drafting