Port Industries
Port Industries
Kelley Drye represents the legal interests of its port clients in a wide variety of transactional, litigation, policy, regulatory and environmental matters. 
We have significant experience in representing our port industry clients in environmental and land use For almost 25 years, Kelley Drye’s port industry team has provided creative counsel to help solve port clients’ complex legal and business challenges.  Our significant experience representing port industry clients as outside counsel, as well as serving as “in-house” general counsel for more than 20 years, has given us tremendous insight into the issues impacting ports.

For two decades, our lawyers have been active members in the American Association of Port Authorities, the Gulf Ports Association, and state port associations, such as the Texas Ports Association and the Ports Association of Louisiana, so that we can better understand the business of ports.  We regularly present on matters impacting ports in fields including environmental, dredging and navigation, energy, insurance, trade and litigation.  We have been representing ports in almost every conceivable transaction and dozens of litigation matters, ranging from condemnation and incredibly complex environmental matters down to simple breach of contract or personal injury matters.  Through it all, we have endeavored to learn the business of our port clients so that we can better serve them.

Environmental and Land Use Matters

Contaminated Sediments and Natural Resource Damages

At Kelley Drye, we represent port industry clients in environmental matters across the country.  Through extensive work with ports, maritime terminal operators, and other transportation-sector clients, on some of the country’s largest harbors, bays, and river systems, we have developed a unique capacity to handle complex contamination and natural resource damages (NRD) matters.  These claims may encompass injuries to bays, rivers, and other surface waters; wetlands, sediments, and soil; groundwater; wildlife, fish, birds, and other biota associated with hazardous substances and environmental degradation, as well as the economic consequences of such injuries.  Thus, injuries to natural resources can have a substantial impact upon ports, the channels of commerce, and the public, and claims for such damages can be truly significant.

Through handling multiple, significant contaminated sediment and NRD claims across the country, our attorneys have gained the insight, knowledge, and experience necessary to provide our clients with exceptional service and counsel at these very complex sites.  We routinely work with many of the country’s preeminent experts in a variety of disciplines involved in contaminated sediment and NRD assessment and damages matters.  Moreover, our representation of state trustees, port authorities, and the regulated community allows us an uncommon perspective on how such matters can be successfully prosecuted and resolved.

Port-Related Environmental Litigation

Kelley Drye’s environmental litigation team has experience representing clients in prosecuting and defending a wide variety of environmental actions, including cost recovery actions, contribution actions, CERCLA, RCRA, CWA and OPA litigation, tort and property damage litigation, natural resource damages assessment and litigation, and many other matters relating to contaminated and impaired real property.  We also regularly deal with sediment and dredge material issues affecting ports and maritime terminal operators.

In addition, corporate responsibility for historical environmental issues is often a key issue in environmental litigation.  In conjunction with our corporate and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practice groups, we have extensive experience in tracing corporate ownership and liabilities to the responsible party (and their insurers) and pursuing or defending against such claims.  Similarly, expert witnesses are an essential component of any environmental case, and port environmental cases are no different.  Through decades of practice and educational backgrounds in government, earth sciences, economics, ecology, and the social sciences, our attorneys are able to work at a very high level of cooperation and understanding with expert environmental, technical, and economic witnesses.

Port Environmental Regulatory and Land Use

Regulatory proceedings are often precursors to or components of environmental litigation.  Our attorneys have the practical and technical experience necessary to achieve our port industry clients’ goals within the regulatory process, whether those goals are reducing or recovering the cost of remediation, meeting regulatory and reporting requirements, including counseling on ESG issues, responding to spills or agency investigations, or proving responsibility for a release.  We work with our clients, as well as other responsible parties and governmental agencies, to achieve practical solutions to environmental problems within the regulatory process or to best position our clients in the event of future litigation.

In addition to representing port industry clients in environmental regulatory and litigation matters, our attorneys also assist clients in efforts to limit or avoid exposure to environmental problems.  Because our attorneys regularly litigate environmental matters, we see firsthand the issues that could be avoided or mitigated with proper environmental risk management and due diligence.  We work with our clients to develop and implement contractual and regulatory safeguards to environmental issues, including environmental indemnities and warranties, cleanup and remediation agreements and environmental insurance, as well as identifying opportunities to participate in programs offering tax incentives, such as state voluntary cleanup programs and federal Brownfields initiatives.

Port-Related General Counsel Work

For two decades, our attorneys have counseled our port industry clients in day-to-day operations, serving as functional “in-house” counsel for one of our port clients on a flat-fee arrangement.  Through this arrangement, we have charged a monthly flat-fee and have handled any and all routine business and transactional matters.  If a litigation matter arises, or another matter that involves extraordinary effort, we will open that as a separate matter.  But, as a result of this relationship, we have incredible insight and experience in port-related transactional matters and operations.  Likewise, we have represented port industry clients in a broad range of commercial and construction disputes, maritime collision matters, tariff interpretations and enforcement matters, issues affecting dredging and dredge material management, lease and easement negotiations and litigation, and emergency response and security measures.  These matters require specialized knowledge of port operations, maritime law and waterfront terminal regulations that our attorneys possess.

Port-Related Policy Work

Our team represents port industry clients and waterways in obtaining authorizations and appropriations for work within federal waterways under the jurisdiction of the Army Corps of Engineers.  Our advocacy work starts at the District level, extends through the Division level and includes conversations with Corps Headquarters and the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works.  We have also worked with the Office of Management and Budget in order to obtain authority or support for funding port industry projects.  Our Washington team also routinely works with the Congressional authorizers and appropriators for both the Army Corps of Engineers and the Coast Guard.

Representative Ports Litigation Experience

The attorneys at Kelley Drye have represented the interests of our port clients in significant litigation matters for decades, regularly achieving remarkable results.  Here is a sampling of the types of matters we have litigated for our port clients.

Contaminated Sediments Litigation

Our lawyers represented a port client in litigation against a series of chemical companies seeking property damages, economic and navigational impacts, remediation and natural resource damages arising from a historical pesticides plant’s contamination of the Port’s waterways and dredge disposal areas with DDT, arsenic, chlordane, and a variety of hazardous substances.  Following two years of intense litigation and a nine-month mediation, our lawyers were part of a team that recovered a settlement valued at over $100 million for our client.  Importantly, the settlement required the defendants to purchase hundreds of acres of contaminated land, construct a lined dredge disposal facility, remediate DDT-impacted sediments, and dispose of and cap those contaminated sediments in the land they had purchased.  Other features of the settlement paid the Port District tens of millions in lost revenues and increased costs caused by the impacted sediments and interference with navigation and commerce, provided indemnities to protect against future costs, and required the purchase of tail insurance to protect the port from future costs caused by the Defendants.

Historic Contamination of Port Properties

Following almost a decade of stalled litigation, we were brought in to prosecute or settle two separate cases for a California port stemming from World War II-era contamination from Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics.  In short order, we were able to get the litigation back on track and quickly pivoted to a mediation footing.  We were able to secure a tremendous settlement for our port client, including an agreement that the Defendants assume all responsibility to remediate the site, the Port’s lands, and the sediments in the area, and protect the Port from all past and future economic impacts to dredging and navigation in the nearby waterbody.

Hydrocarbon Contamination

Kelley Drye’s attorneys represented a Texas port in response to TCEQ’s discovery of a mixed hydrocarbon plume releasing into the nearby bay adjacent to the port’s docks.  The port’s slip had been used to transport crude oil and refined petroleum products since the 1920’s.  There were hundreds of active or abandoned pipelines running under the port's property to the docks in question.  Many of the pipelines had been abandoned long before, and several were not located within the boundaries of the easements granted to the pipeline operators.  When settlement negotiations failed, the port retained Kelley Drye attorneys to bring suit against six then-current pipeline operators in the area. Kelley Drye coordinated an extensive investigation of the lines in place and the characterization of the plumes of various refined hydrocarbons at the site and was able to identify the source of most if not all of the plumes.  Following months of negotiation and mediation, the team was able to structure six individual confidential settlement agreements with each of the defendants (i.e., they did not know what the others were doing), which collectively: (1) paid all of the port’s past and future costs and property damages sought in the matter; (2) paid the port tens of millions for the complete remediation of the mixed plume and for the construction of a containment wall around the south slip; (3) provided that one defendant assume the remediation of a discrete plume of gasoline and MTBE; and (4) with the excess funds recovered above all past and future remediation costs and damages, funded an Environmental Remediation Trust to cover future environmental matters at the port.

Ongoing PCB Contamination

Since 2015, we have served as counsel for a California port, in an action arising from PCB contamination polluting the port’s waters and sediments against a major chemical company and its successors.  In the litigation, the port has sought to abate the public nuisance created by PCBs, remove the impediments to navigation in the bay, and recover costs it has expended to address PCB contamination in and around the bay.  Our lawyers drove this nationally significant litigation, ultimately encouraging the chemical company to resolve the port district’s case together with similarly situated water districts, municipal governments and ports plagued by it long-lasting PCB contamination.  The Port District’s case is currently stayed as it evaluates settlement opportunities as part of the proposed $550 million class settlement.

Texas Superfund Litigation

Our lawyers represented a Texas port in a matter that involved a tract of land owned by the Port and operated by an oil and gas company and its predecessors in interest since at least 1945.  In this litigation, the oil company sought contribution under the Texas Superfund statute and injunctive relief under RCRA from several PRPs, including the federal government, for the World War II-era operations on the land, several operators of neighboring facilities and activities, and from the port.  On behalf of our port client, we counterclaimed that the Plaintiff/oil company had assumed all responsibility for contamination of the Port's property in its lease and easement agreements and that Plaintiff had agreed to indemnify the port from the very claims it had asserted against the Port.  This matter was successfully resolved during arbitration, with the Plaintiff assuming all responsibility for the site remediation and future remedial efforts stemming from the its operations and that of its predecessors.

Claims Assessment

Our lawyers have been retained by a South Texas port in confidential assessment of claims and potential impacts arising from a former tenant’s operations.

Oil Spills and Petrochemical Contamination

Our lawyers were retained by an East Texas port in a confidential matter related to the investigation and resolution of matters related to contamination emanating from neighboring petrochemical facility.  As a result of our work, the Port’s interests were completely protected, the claims settled, and its costs were reimbursed, confidentially and without litigation being filed.

 
 

Overview

Kelley Drye represents the legal interests of its port clients in a wide variety of transactional, litigation, policy, regulatory and environmental matters. 
We have significant experience in representing our port industry clients in environmental and land use For almost 25 years, Kelley Drye’s port industry team has provided creative counsel to help solve port clients’ complex legal and business challenges.  Our significant experience representing port industry clients as outside counsel, as well as serving as “in-house” general counsel for more than 20 years, has given us tremendous insight into the issues impacting ports.

For two decades, our lawyers have been active members in the American Association of Port Authorities, the Gulf Ports Association, and state port associations, such as the Texas Ports Association and the Ports Association of Louisiana, so that we can better understand the business of ports.  We regularly present on matters impacting ports in fields including environmental, dredging and navigation, energy, insurance, trade and litigation.  We have been representing ports in almost every conceivable transaction and dozens of litigation matters, ranging from condemnation and incredibly complex environmental matters down to simple breach of contract or personal injury matters.  Through it all, we have endeavored to learn the business of our port clients so that we can better serve them.

Environmental and Land Use Matters

Contaminated Sediments and Natural Resource Damages

At Kelley Drye, we represent port industry clients in environmental matters across the country.  Through extensive work with ports, maritime terminal operators, and other transportation-sector clients, on some of the country’s largest harbors, bays, and river systems, we have developed a unique capacity to handle complex contamination and natural resource damages (NRD) matters.  These claims may encompass injuries to bays, rivers, and other surface waters; wetlands, sediments, and soil; groundwater; wildlife, fish, birds, and other biota associated with hazardous substances and environmental degradation, as well as the economic consequences of such injuries.  Thus, injuries to natural resources can have a substantial impact upon ports, the channels of commerce, and the public, and claims for such damages can be truly significant.

Through handling multiple, significant contaminated sediment and NRD claims across the country, our attorneys have gained the insight, knowledge, and experience necessary to provide our clients with exceptional service and counsel at these very complex sites.  We routinely work with many of the country’s preeminent experts in a variety of disciplines involved in contaminated sediment and NRD assessment and damages matters.  Moreover, our representation of state trustees, port authorities, and the regulated community allows us an uncommon perspective on how such matters can be successfully prosecuted and resolved.

Port-Related Environmental Litigation

Kelley Drye’s environmental litigation team has experience representing clients in prosecuting and defending a wide variety of environmental actions, including cost recovery actions, contribution actions, CERCLA, RCRA, CWA and OPA litigation, tort and property damage litigation, natural resource damages assessment and litigation, and many other matters relating to contaminated and impaired real property.  We also regularly deal with sediment and dredge material issues affecting ports and maritime terminal operators.

In addition, corporate responsibility for historical environmental issues is often a key issue in environmental litigation.  In conjunction with our corporate and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practice groups, we have extensive experience in tracing corporate ownership and liabilities to the responsible party (and their insurers) and pursuing or defending against such claims.  Similarly, expert witnesses are an essential component of any environmental case, and port environmental cases are no different.  Through decades of practice and educational backgrounds in government, earth sciences, economics, ecology, and the social sciences, our attorneys are able to work at a very high level of cooperation and understanding with expert environmental, technical, and economic witnesses.

Port Environmental Regulatory and Land Use

Regulatory proceedings are often precursors to or components of environmental litigation.  Our attorneys have the practical and technical experience necessary to achieve our port industry clients’ goals within the regulatory process, whether those goals are reducing or recovering the cost of remediation, meeting regulatory and reporting requirements, including counseling on ESG issues, responding to spills or agency investigations, or proving responsibility for a release.  We work with our clients, as well as other responsible parties and governmental agencies, to achieve practical solutions to environmental problems within the regulatory process or to best position our clients in the event of future litigation.

In addition to representing port industry clients in environmental regulatory and litigation matters, our attorneys also assist clients in efforts to limit or avoid exposure to environmental problems.  Because our attorneys regularly litigate environmental matters, we see firsthand the issues that could be avoided or mitigated with proper environmental risk management and due diligence.  We work with our clients to develop and implement contractual and regulatory safeguards to environmental issues, including environmental indemnities and warranties, cleanup and remediation agreements and environmental insurance, as well as identifying opportunities to participate in programs offering tax incentives, such as state voluntary cleanup programs and federal Brownfields initiatives.

Port-Related General Counsel Work

For two decades, our attorneys have counseled our port industry clients in day-to-day operations, serving as functional “in-house” counsel for one of our port clients on a flat-fee arrangement.  Through this arrangement, we have charged a monthly flat-fee and have handled any and all routine business and transactional matters.  If a litigation matter arises, or another matter that involves extraordinary effort, we will open that as a separate matter.  But, as a result of this relationship, we have incredible insight and experience in port-related transactional matters and operations.  Likewise, we have represented port industry clients in a broad range of commercial and construction disputes, maritime collision matters, tariff interpretations and enforcement matters, issues affecting dredging and dredge material management, lease and easement negotiations and litigation, and emergency response and security measures.  These matters require specialized knowledge of port operations, maritime law and waterfront terminal regulations that our attorneys possess.

Port-Related Policy Work

Our team represents port industry clients and waterways in obtaining authorizations and appropriations for work within federal waterways under the jurisdiction of the Army Corps of Engineers.  Our advocacy work starts at the District level, extends through the Division level and includes conversations with Corps Headquarters and the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works.  We have also worked with the Office of Management and Budget in order to obtain authority or support for funding port industry projects.  Our Washington team also routinely works with the Congressional authorizers and appropriators for both the Army Corps of Engineers and the Coast Guard.

Experience

Representative Ports Litigation Experience

The attorneys at Kelley Drye have represented the interests of our port clients in significant litigation matters for decades, regularly achieving remarkable results.  Here is a sampling of the types of matters we have litigated for our port clients.

Contaminated Sediments Litigation

Our lawyers represented a port client in litigation against a series of chemical companies seeking property damages, economic and navigational impacts, remediation and natural resource damages arising from a historical pesticides plant’s contamination of the Port’s waterways and dredge disposal areas with DDT, arsenic, chlordane, and a variety of hazardous substances.  Following two years of intense litigation and a nine-month mediation, our lawyers were part of a team that recovered a settlement valued at over $100 million for our client.  Importantly, the settlement required the defendants to purchase hundreds of acres of contaminated land, construct a lined dredge disposal facility, remediate DDT-impacted sediments, and dispose of and cap those contaminated sediments in the land they had purchased.  Other features of the settlement paid the Port District tens of millions in lost revenues and increased costs caused by the impacted sediments and interference with navigation and commerce, provided indemnities to protect against future costs, and required the purchase of tail insurance to protect the port from future costs caused by the Defendants.

Historic Contamination of Port Properties

Following almost a decade of stalled litigation, we were brought in to prosecute or settle two separate cases for a California port stemming from World War II-era contamination from Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics.  In short order, we were able to get the litigation back on track and quickly pivoted to a mediation footing.  We were able to secure a tremendous settlement for our port client, including an agreement that the Defendants assume all responsibility to remediate the site, the Port’s lands, and the sediments in the area, and protect the Port from all past and future economic impacts to dredging and navigation in the nearby waterbody.

Hydrocarbon Contamination

Kelley Drye’s attorneys represented a Texas port in response to TCEQ’s discovery of a mixed hydrocarbon plume releasing into the nearby bay adjacent to the port’s docks.  The port’s slip had been used to transport crude oil and refined petroleum products since the 1920’s.  There were hundreds of active or abandoned pipelines running under the port's property to the docks in question.  Many of the pipelines had been abandoned long before, and several were not located within the boundaries of the easements granted to the pipeline operators.  When settlement negotiations failed, the port retained Kelley Drye attorneys to bring suit against six then-current pipeline operators in the area. Kelley Drye coordinated an extensive investigation of the lines in place and the characterization of the plumes of various refined hydrocarbons at the site and was able to identify the source of most if not all of the plumes.  Following months of negotiation and mediation, the team was able to structure six individual confidential settlement agreements with each of the defendants (i.e., they did not know what the others were doing), which collectively: (1) paid all of the port’s past and future costs and property damages sought in the matter; (2) paid the port tens of millions for the complete remediation of the mixed plume and for the construction of a containment wall around the south slip; (3) provided that one defendant assume the remediation of a discrete plume of gasoline and MTBE; and (4) with the excess funds recovered above all past and future remediation costs and damages, funded an Environmental Remediation Trust to cover future environmental matters at the port.

Ongoing PCB Contamination

Since 2015, we have served as counsel for a California port, in an action arising from PCB contamination polluting the port’s waters and sediments against a major chemical company and its successors.  In the litigation, the port has sought to abate the public nuisance created by PCBs, remove the impediments to navigation in the bay, and recover costs it has expended to address PCB contamination in and around the bay.  Our lawyers drove this nationally significant litigation, ultimately encouraging the chemical company to resolve the port district’s case together with similarly situated water districts, municipal governments and ports plagued by it long-lasting PCB contamination.  The Port District’s case is currently stayed as it evaluates settlement opportunities as part of the proposed $550 million class settlement.

Texas Superfund Litigation

Our lawyers represented a Texas port in a matter that involved a tract of land owned by the Port and operated by an oil and gas company and its predecessors in interest since at least 1945.  In this litigation, the oil company sought contribution under the Texas Superfund statute and injunctive relief under RCRA from several PRPs, including the federal government, for the World War II-era operations on the land, several operators of neighboring facilities and activities, and from the port.  On behalf of our port client, we counterclaimed that the Plaintiff/oil company had assumed all responsibility for contamination of the Port's property in its lease and easement agreements and that Plaintiff had agreed to indemnify the port from the very claims it had asserted against the Port.  This matter was successfully resolved during arbitration, with the Plaintiff assuming all responsibility for the site remediation and future remedial efforts stemming from the its operations and that of its predecessors.

Claims Assessment

Our lawyers have been retained by a South Texas port in confidential assessment of claims and potential impacts arising from a former tenant’s operations.

Oil Spills and Petrochemical Contamination

Our lawyers were retained by an East Texas port in a confidential matter related to the investigation and resolution of matters related to contamination emanating from neighboring petrochemical facility.  As a result of our work, the Port’s interests were completely protected, the claims settled, and its costs were reimbursed, confidentially and without litigation being filed.

Partner
Email (713) 355-5050(713) 355-5050
Bill Jackson is co-chair of the firm’s national Environmental Law practice group and a member of the firm’s Executive Committee.  Bill has one of the most sophisticated and success...
Partner
Email (713) 355-5006(713) 355-5006
Kenny Corley is managing partner of the firm’s Houston office.  His practice is focused on litigation and trial advocacy, with an emphasis on environmental and business disputes in state...
Partner
Email (713) 355-5005(713) 355-5005
John Gilmour co-chairs the Environmental Litigation section.  His practice encompasses significant commercial, tort and environmental matters from coast to coast, including some of the largest...
Partner
Email (858) 795-0426(858) 795-0426
Andrew Homer focuses his practice on litigation, permitting, compliance counseling, and transactional support related to federal and state environmental laws and regulations. Andrew handles hi...
Partner
Email (713) 355-5023(713) 355-5023
Will Petit represents clients in the litigation and trial of environmental, commercial and general civil matters.  He also provides practical, cost-effective legal advice on general business a...
Senior Associate
Email (713) 355-5002(713) 355-5002
Lauren Shah practices environmental, energy, and commercial law for a wide variety of clients, across the country.  Lauren is well versed in federal, state, and local environmental laws. Laure...
Associate
Email (713) 355-5053(713) 355-5053
Maria Pimienta is an associate in the firm’s Houston office.  She focuses her practice on environmental and energy law.  Her environmental practice includes serving as counsel for s...