As the leader of the firm’s Admiralty and Ports Subsector, Sean works strategically with regional, national, and international clients to identify and minimize commercial and liability risks. In his broad litigation practice, Sean and his team provide litigation avoidance counseling and dispute resolution guidance to businesses across the globe, including cruise lines, customs brokers, domestic and international marine insurers, financial institutions, freight forwarders and other logistics providers, heavy equipment manufacturers, importers and exporters, intermodal chassis interests, marinas, marine towing companies, recreational boat manufacturers, shipowners and charterers, steamship lines, stevedoring companies, watersports businesses, yacht brokers, and other logistics and transportation clients who rely on the intermodal supply chain.
In addition, Sean provides emergency response to transportation casualties, and he creatively advocates for his clients to cost-effectively resolve claims arising from personal injury or death, pollution incidents and toxic torts, maritime arrests and attachment proceedings, cargo damage and loss, recreational boating and trucking accidents, and other casualties. Sean and his team also draft and negotiate transportation agreements, handle marine finance transactions, and provide transportation regulatory guidance.
A former prosecutor, Sean’s criminal practice includes the counseling of clients under investigation for alleged white collar criminal activity, and he helps victims of financial crimes to navigate the criminal process. Sean advises clients in response to MARPOL and other whistleblower allegations and governmental investigations, and he tactfully works with investigating agents to resolve issues before allegations lead to indictment. When disputes cannot be resolved outside of the courthouse, clients rely on Sean’s experience in trying cases to favorable verdict.
Presentations and Publications
- Offshore Wind and the Jones Act: Renewable Energy Industry Should Be Aware of Recent Changes to Federal Shipping Law, Womble Bond Dickinson Client Alert, April 15, 2020
- Legal and Commercial Aspects of Marine Plastics Pollution, CLE Co-Author and Speaker, Maritime Law Association of the United States, Fall 2019 Meeting.
- A Primer on Criminal Liability for Maritime Environmental Offenses, Author and Speaker, Annual Seminar of the Southeastern Admiralty Law Institute, 2017.
- Deepwater Horizon / Macondo Well Claims Update, Author and Speaker, Maritime Law Association of the United States, Fall 2015 Joint Meeting of MLA Committees on Regulation Of Vessel Operations, Safety, Security And Navigation; Marine Ecology And Maritime Criminal Law; Government Counsel; and Inland Waters and Towing.
- Electronic Discovery and Its Impact on Maritime Practitioners, Author, Southeastern Admiralty Law Institute, 2007.
- The Wetlands Controversy: Perspectives and Practical Advice on Post-SWANCC Wetlands Law and Regulation in South Carolina, Moderator and Course Planner, South Carolina Bar Convention, 2005.
- Key Environmental Issues in U.S. EPA Region 4 - Hot Topics and Recent Developments, Planning Committee, American Bar Association's Section of Environment, Energy and Resources, April 2005 biennial seminar.
- Key Environmental Issues in U.S. EPA Region 4 - Regional Growth and the Environment, Planning Committee, American Bar Association's Section of Environment, Energy and Resources, May 2003 biennial seminar.
- Maritime Law Association of the United States
- Chair, Marine Ecology and Maritime Criminal Law Committee, 2016-2020
- Vice Chair, Our Oceans Committee, 2020-Present
- Secretary, Marine Ecology and Maritime Criminal Law Committee, 2012-2016
- Charleston County Bar Association
- Chair, Mentor Committee, 2015-2018
- Board Member, Executive Committee, 2013-2016
- American Bar Association
- Vice Chair, Admiralty and Maritime Law Committee of the Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section, 2007-2009
- Toxic Torts and Environmental Law Committee
- South Carolina Bar Association
- Chair, Environment and Natural Resources Section, 2004-2005
- Chair-Elect, 2003; Secretary, 2002; Council Member, 2001
- Former Section Delegate to the SC Bar House of Delegates
- Southeastern Admiralty Law Institute
- Port Director, Charleston, South Carolina, 2003-2005
- Maritime Association of South Carolina
- Propeller Club of the United States
- South Carolina Defense Trial Attorneys' Association
- Leadership Charleston, Class of 2003
Honors and Awards
Recognized in The Best Lawyers in America (BL Rankings) in the fields of Litigation – Environmental, Personal Injury Litigation – Defendants, 2008 – Present
Any result the lawyer or law firm may have achieved on behalf of clients in other matters does not necessarily indicate similar results can be obtained for other clients.
- Lead counsel for ocean carrier based in East Asia in defense of Natural Resources Damage Assessment claims under OPA ’90, arising from oil spill into navigable waters. Negotiated Consent Decree with the United States and state environmental agencies, resolving all NRDA claims, and litigated multi-million dollar OPA ’90 claims arising from alleged oil pollution damage to seafood businesses.
- Co-Lead counsel for British shipowner in defense of personal injury claim by longshoreman, alleging Scindia violations during cargo operations. Secured summary judgment in US District Court and successfully prevailed on appeal to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
- Lead counsel for Taiwanese ocean shipping company in defense of wrongful death claims pursued by estate of law enforcement officer, arising from catastrophic trucking accident.
- Lead trial counsel in US District Court for national retailers, and trial co-counsel for Japanese manufacturer, in successful defense of alleged breaches of multi-million dollar contracts.
- Secured pre-trial dismissals with prejudice of vessel owner/manager after briefing summary judgment motions in multiple occupational disease lawsuits alleging asbestos exposure damages