1 FOWLER RODRIGUEZ Counselors at Law Fowler Rodriguez Named U.S. News & World Reports 2013 Best Law Firm Our 25th Anniversary Fowler Rodriguez Recognized as a Leading National Law Firm; Sullivan & Rodriguez Named Leading National Lawyers in Chambers USA Fowler Rodriguez has been recognized as a leading national law firm in the prestigious 2013 reference book, Chambers USA: America s Leading Lawyers for Business. Chambers USA recognizes only select law firms and lawyers in the United States. This year, Chambers named Fowler Rodriguez a leading law firm in the area of Transportation: Shipping: Litigation (outside New York). Two partners, Antonio J. Rodriguez and Norman C. Sullivan, Jr., were recognized specifically as leaders in this category. The publication rates the strengths and reputations of U.S. attorneys, employing a team of over 50 full-time researchers. Antonio Rodriguez and Norman Sullivan were recognized as Leading National Lawyers in Transportation: Shipping: Litigation Zero Verdict Against Plaintiffs for Oil and Gas Clients The Hayes Fund v. Kerr-McGee trial team: John Farnsworth, Jon Wise, Jennifer Dippel, Jay Stewart and William Shea. Jon W. Wise recently concluded a lengthy trial in the 31st Judicial District Court for the Parish of Jefferson Davis, which resulted in a zero verdict in favor of the firm s clients. The case was brought against clients Crimson Exploration, Inc., Anadarko Petroleum, Kerr-McGee and several other oil and gas companies on behalf of a group of landowners who were mineral royalty interest owners within producing units drained by two wells drilled in Seeking $16 million in damages, the plaintiffs claimed they were deprived of royalty revenue from these units due to the fact that the reservoirs were allegedly destroyed by the completion and/or workover of the wells by the operator defendants. Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that improper cementing practices and well designs had permitted the incursion of extraneous water from nearby formations into the producing formations via the well bore and caused the producing formations to water out prematurely. This was an unprecedented claim, as there had been no prior cases where a court in Louisiana had awarded this type of damage principally because of the problems of proving the existence of damages. The trial took over ten months to be completed in 2012 and was tried by a single judge. The opinion, which the trial court issued in May 2013, resulted in a finding of no liability on the part of the defendants. The case likely will be appealed, but the opinion of the court represents a major victory for oil and gas operators throughout the state. 1
2 Cases of Note: Fifth Circuit Victory: Gulfport Team Overcomes Maritime Rule That a Moving Vessel That Allides With a Stationary Object is Presumed at Fault the southern bank of the intersection, and another collision with the dredge only a few hours before Marquette s tug attempted to pass. The Gulfport trial and appellate team of John A. Scialdone, Todd G. Crawford and John S. Garner successfully navigated the troubled waters of maritime presumptions through the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana and United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. In Mike Hooks Dredging Co. v. Marquette Transportation Co. Gulf-Inland, 716 F.3d 886 (5th Cir. 2013), the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court s apportionment of fault of 70% to plaintiff Mike Hooks Dredging Co. as operator of the dredge MIKE HOOKS; 15% to third party defendant Vizier, as operator of a picket boat required to physically assist passing navigation by the dredge under a Corps of Engineers contract; and the remaining 15% fault to Fowler Rodriguez s client Marquette, as the operator of the PAT MCDANIEL, a tug that allided with the stationary dredge at the intersection of the Intracoastal Waterway near the Wax Lake Outlet in South Central Louisiana. Mike Hooks claimed our client, Marquette s, tug boat was solely at fault for striking its moored dredge, relying on the presumption of fault under the Oregon rule that when a moving vessel collides with a stationary object in the water, the moving vessel is presumed at fault and must prove it is not at fault. As the Gulfport trial team developed further evidence through discovery, however, other general maritime law presumptions began to swing in Marquette s favor. For example, the dredge was required to provide a picket boat to comply with its dredging contract with the U.S. Corps of Engineers. Fowler Rodriguez also uncovered statements taken from Hooks employees that showed key dredge personnel knew the picket boat, operated by Vizier, refused to assist passing vessels in navigation as expressly required by the Corps contract. Nonetheless, the dredge proceeded to a dangerous location in the Intracoastal Waterway where currents intersect and create difficulty in navigation. Gulfport attorneys presented evidence of two near misses by vessels attempting to pass the dredge: a grounding caused by the heavy current that set the vessel to Fowler Rodriguez successfully rebutted the presumption against Marquette under the Oregon rule by arguing that the dredge violated the narrow channel rule, Inland Rule 9 ( INR9 ), codified at 33 CFR 83.09, which provides: Avoidance of anchoring in narrow channels: Every vessel shall, if the circumstances of the case permit, avoid anchoring in a narrow channel. The district court found Marquette had presented sufficient evidence to overcome the adverse presumption of the Oregon rule, agreed that Hooks violated the narrow channel rule and ultimately held that Hooks could not rebut the presumption triggered by the rule of the Pennsylvania, 86 U.S. (19 Wall) 125, 22 L.Ed. 148 (1874), which requires the offending vessel to show the statutory rule violation was not merely her fault and might not have been one of the causes, or that it probably was not, but that it could not have been. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court s apportionment of fault in all respects, but not without some questions on the interplay of these presumptions. The Gulfport appellate team emphasized that the Pennsylvania rule shifts the burden of persuasion to the offending vessel to show that particular statutory violation could not have been the cause of the incident. The Fifth Circuit agreed and wrote, We agree with the district court that INR 9(g) establishes such a clear legal duty. The regulation expressly prohibits vessels from anchoring in narrow channels, except in exceptional circumstances. The Fifth Circuit panel also rejected Hooks legal argument that INR 9(g) is inapplicable unless the vessel is first found to be an obstruction. Instead, the panel agreed with the statutory interpretation and analysis offered by Gulfport Appellate Counsel and affirmed the 70% allocation of fault: INR 9(g) is unambiguous. The rule ( shall avoid ) expressly prohibits vessels from anchoring in narrow channels, subject only to the exception where circumstances do not permit alternative action. Ultimately, the Appellate Court affirmed the District Court s judgment of liability in all respects. Like the Fifth Circuit opinion, the district court opinion provides useful guidance on navigating the troubled waters created by the presumptions in maritime law. 2
3 Cases of Note: Another Fifth Circuit Victory: Successful Summary Judgment Appeal for Port of New Orleans Fowler Rodriguez attorneys Edward F. LeBreton, III and Stuart Ponder successfully appealed a summary judgment to the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. LeBreton and Ponder represented the Board of Commissioners for the Port of New Orleans in litigation against one of its bumbershoot insurers, Insurance Company of North America. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of INA on the basis that lack of notice to one of three severally subscribing insurers relieved all insurers of their obligations under the policy. On appeal, the Board argued that, because the insurers obligations were several, notice to one insurer satisfied the requirement as to that insurer, regardless of possible lack of notice to one of the other insurers. In a per curium opinion, the Fifth Circuit held that any insurer who receives notice is obligated to provide its proportion of the coverage. More specifically, the duty of coverage is triggered for each insurer who receives notice under the policy. The Fifth Circuit remanded the case to the district court for further proceedings. The opinion may be found at Ins. Co. of N. Am. v. Bd. of Comm rs of the Port of New Orleans, no , 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 8884, 2013WL (5th Cir. La. May 1, 2013). Removal of Debris Claims Do Not Trigger Excess Insurance On July 31, 2013, Edward LeBreton and Allison M. Hooker won a summary judgment declaring no coverage of a significant claim against their client, Liberty International Underwriters, in the U.S. District Court in Houston. Judge Kenneth M. Hoyt issued the Memorandum Opinion and Order. The issue involved costs for removal of debris (ROD) following Hurricane Ike. The insured owned numerous production platforms in the Gulf of Mexico that were damaged in the storm. The insured used the limits of its Energy Package Policy and Windstorm Coverage to pay for property damage and Operators Extra Expense (OEE). The insured gave notice that it then intended to claim its ROD expenses under Excess Liabilities policies issued by Liberty and other underwriters. The total of the ROD claims against all layers of Excess Liabilities insurance was approximately $50,000,000. The Excess Liabilities policies were endorsed to cover ROD. Liberty, however, reserved its right to deny coverage on the basis, among others, that the property damage and OEE claims did not reduce the retention under the Excess Liabilities Policies. The Excess Liabilities Policy provided that the retention would be depleted only by payment of claims that would be covered by the Excess Liabilities policy itself. While the property damage and ROD claims may have been covered under the Energy Package Policy, they were not covered by the Excess Liabilities Policy. Working closely with counsel for the other Excess Liabilities underwriters, LeBreton and Hooker filed a complaint for a declaration that the property damage and OEE expenses did not reduce the retention and that the Excess Liabilities Policies were not triggered. The Memorandum Opinion and Order granted this relief. Indemnity Insurance Company of North America et al. v. W&T Offshore Inc., C.A. No. 4:12CV2469, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS , 2013 WL (S.D. Tex. July 31, 2013). 3
4 Cases of Note: Success in Bench Trial for Smith Marine Towing Norman C. Sullivan and Jacob Gardner successfully obtained a favorable ruling for their client Smith Marine Towing ( Smith ) in a suit against it by Cashman Equipment Corporation ( Cashman ). In 2009, Smith chartered one of its tugs to a Cashman subsidiary. The parties orally agreed to the charter arrangement between them; however, when Cashman did not get paid by its customer for the job for which it had chartered the tug, Cashman refused to pay Smith for the charter, taking the position that they only had to pay the charter if they had gotten paid by their customer. Despite that Cashman still owed Smith under the 2009 charter, the companies continued to engage in business with each other. In late 2011, in a role reversal, Smith chartered a barge from Cashman (rather than Cashman chartering from Smith as before). The written agreement provided a set daily charter rate for the first thirty days but allowed Cashman to adjust the hire at its sole discretion after 30 days. It also provided that Smith could not sub-charter the barge without Cashman s written permission. After the first thirty days, Cashman demanded that Smith return the barge. Smith could not return the barge because of its commitment to its customer. In response, Cashman increased the charter rate each day until Smith returned George J. Fowler, III, Timothy W. Strickland and Luis E. Llamas obtained the dismissal of all claims filed against Hornbeck Offshore Services Inc. and related entities in the U.S. district court for the Southern District of Texas. The claims arose out of an alleged allision that occurred in Mexico s Bay of Campeche, within Mexico s Exclusive Economic Zone. Fowler Rodriguez argued that the case All Claims Against Hornbeck Dismissed 4 the barge. When this occurred, Fowler Rodriguez attorney Norm Sullivan advised Smith not to pay the increased, unreasonable hire. By the time Smith returned the barge, Cashman had raised the daily hire from $2,200 to $69,000 per day. By the beginning of 2012, both companies owed each other money for chartered vessels. Settlement attempts failed. Cashman took the position that it was owed amounts exceeding $2.5 million, and its lowest settlement demand was $1.5 million. Smith was unwilling to pay that amount. In the Eastern District of Louisiana, Judge Vance found that the position of Cashman, that Smith would not be paid for its tug charter if its subsidiary was not paid by its customer was not supported by the evidence, and that Smith was entitled to hire plus interest. She found that Smith breached the charter by sub-chartering the barge without written permission; however, she concluded that the the dramatic rate increase was unreasonable and Cashman was only entitled to the $2,200 per day. Cashman was entitled to $81,888.04, plus interest and attorney s fees for its of charter claim. The Court reduced Cashman s claim for attorney s fees by about one-third, to $41, Calculation of the final damage award came down to timing. Cashman owed Smith the money for its charter longer than Smith had owed its amount. Consequently, once interest was taken into consideration, Smith only owed Cashman about $8,000 rather than the $2,500, that Cashman initially claimed it was owed. Cashman has appealed. belonged in Mexico and should be dismissed based on the doctrines of forum non conveniens, comity and lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. Judge David Hitner addressed each factor required for a proper forum non conveniens analysis and dismissed the case to Mexico. He found Mexico to be an adequate and available forum. He then held that three of the five private interest factors weighed in favor of dismissal, while one weighed in favor of retention, and one was neutral. Similarly, Judge Hitner found three of the four public interest factors weighed in favor of dismissal, with the fourth being moot. The decision went on to note that Mexican law would likely apply if the case remained in the US. The case is an example of the decades of experience Fowler Rodriguez has developed in handling matters in the US that involve issues in Latin America and vice versa.
5 Cases of Note: Wells Fargo Lends $42 million for Construction of Double-Hull Fueling Ship Wade Webster recently assisted a private client with a contract at a shipyard in Louisiana for the construction of a double-hulled tanker and the concomitant ship mortgage from Wells Fargo. The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 provided for a phase-in requirement that all oil cargos be transported in double-hulled ships. The Act phases out single-hull tank vessels over time for vessels larger than 5,000 gross tons. The final deadline to comply ends in 2013, so there has been a recent rush at the shipyards to commence construction of vessels that will comply with the mandate for double hulls. After the phase-out date, a single-hull vessel can continue to ship other types of products, but it can no longer be used to transport oil in U.S. waters. Although most double-hulled ships are built outside of the United States, where shipbuilding costs are significantly lower, the Jones Act prohibits foreign-built vessels from shipments between U.S. ports. The Jones Act provides that a vessel cannot transport cargos among U.S. ports unless it is built in the United States, registered in the United States, owned by a United States citizen, and operated by a United States crew. In addition to affecting crude oil shipments from Alaska, the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 also affects transportation of oil products from U.S. refineries to U.S. ports and transporting fuel to customers (typically performed by tankers and coastal tank barges). Successful Defense Before the World Bank Sanctions Board An important Cyprus constructionbased company was hired by the Colombian government to build a submarine sewerage outfall off the coast of Cartagena through a World Bank loan. The Colombian entities engaged in a complex litigation strategy against the construction company including a request for sanctions by the World Bank; the case was even highlighted on the front page of the domestic newspaper. Luis E. Cuervo successfully procured the dismissal of all claims against his client, including that it engaged in corrupt and fraudulent practices. Had sanctions been imposed, his client would have been declared ineligible to be awarded any projects financed by the World Bank. Despite an initial finding adverse to the client, Cuervo s defense was successful before the World Bank Sanctions Board. The decision may be reviewed at the World Bank Sanctions Board web page under Decision No. 59, sanctions case 187. The Sanctions Board reviewed the dispute, concluded that INT s allegations were insufficient, and terminated the proceedings in favor of Fowler Rodriguez s client. Cuervo s effective litigation exemplifies Fowler Rodriguez s experience and capabilities in resolving complex international commercial disputes as well as the firm s established presence in Latin America. 5
6 Fowler Rodriguez Findings: ICE Ramping Up Immigration Audits and Criminal Prosecutions by Peter M. Thomson If your business has been the subject of a recent inspection by U.S. Immigration authorities for I-9 compliance, beware. Such audits routinely precede criminal investigations that can result in federal prosecutions, particularly when a company receives a Notice of Discrepancies or a Notice of Suspect Documents. Over the past year, ICE has been aggressively increasing its efforts to hold companies liable for employing illegal aliens. The associated risks to non-compliant companies are not just financial companies are being prosecuted under the felony harboring statute for employing illegal aliens. There are two principal federal criminal laws applicable to companies that employ illegal aliens. Generally speaking, one statute makes it a misdemeanor to employ illegal aliens. However, the other statute allows the government to charge a company and its managers with a federal felony offense where the government can prove that the illegal alien employees were being harbored. Instead of simply charging a company and its managers with employing illegal aliens as a misdemeanor offense, government prosecutors have been aggressively filing charges under the felony harboring statute. There is a fine line between the misdemeanor and felony statutes as courts have granted flexibility to the government to charge the more onerous offense. In order to prove harboring, the government needs to show that the company did something to make it easier for the illegal alien to remain in the United States, such as providing them with a place to live or providing transportation to and from work. Accordingly, we urge clients to contact counsel immediately upon being visited by U.S. Immigration Agents, even if they represent that their visit is strictly routine and administrative in nature. Such innocent visits often can result in federal criminal prosecutions and substantial fines. Immigration Reform Update: DREAMERS and the Citizenship Debate by J. David Peña After the U.S. Senate passed bipartisan legislation on June 27, 2013 seeking to legalize more than 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States, the negotiations for a comprehensive immigration reform bill are currently stalled due to disagreements between Republicans and Democrats in the House of Representatives. On August 16, 2013 the Republican National Committee passed a resolution asking President Obama, as well as Congress, to take action and pass immigration reform legislation. The resolution did NOT include a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, but instead, focused on other aspects of immigration reform such as providing a special legal status to undocumented foreign nationals brought to the U.S. as children, popularly known as DREAMERS. For this category, there is no path to citizenship either. Instead, DREAMERS would be eligible for a 5-year renewable work permit if they can demonstrate proof of employment or attendance in school. The resolution also calls for two-year renewable work permits for undocumented immigrants that came to the U.S. over the age of 18. The work permit would allow undocumented immigrants who are currently in the country and have not violated any other laws of the U.S. to come forward and register and be allowed to remain and work in the U.S. Eligibility for this work permit, however, would not allow an undocumented worker a path to citizenship, as well as not allow for the petitioning of family members living outside the United States. Border security is one of the most contentious topics in the immigration reform debate. Many Republican members of Congress are not willing to consider a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants unless security at the U.S. borders is greatly increased and employment eligibility is enforced through the using of the E-verify computer tracking system, which would be mandatory for millions of employers. 6
7 Fowler Rodriguez Findings: The Dream of Chicontepec and How Pemex Strives to Overcome the Myth of Quetzalcoatl by Luis E. Cuervo According to the Indian Náhuatl language, Chicontepec means seven hills, the place where Ehecatl, the god of the wind, meets with Quetzalcoatl, the sun or morning star god. Petróleos Mexicanos ( Pemex ), the Mexican state-owned petroleum company, hopes that the place where the ancient gods met may also be blessed with significant hydrocarbon resources. As production from the Cantarel field continues to decline, Pemex strives to attract foreign investment. This time, Pemex hopes to attract international capital to the Chicontepec project. The history behind Chicontepec is not promissory and leaves more than one thousand inactive wells and losses of 18,000 million pesos. Pemex expected a return of 93.6 cents per invested peso and instead received 2.5. Through a third bidding round that starts this month, Pemex expects to attract investments of $62 million in each one of six projects open for bid. Pemex made its draft of the proposed model contract available to interested investors. The contract is conceived as a service contract whereby the foreign investor will provide all services required for the exploration, development and production of hydrocarbons. As required under the Mexican Constitution and laws currently in effect, Pemex exclusively owns all production. The foreign investor s compensation is not tied to reserves in place and is exclusively conceived as a cash payment. Such cash payment is the sole source of rights for the Contractor under the contract. The foreign investor/contractor assumes all risks and costs necessary to increase production. However, at all times, Pemex maintains full authority and control over all oil and gas operations. Thus, the Contractor is solely a Pemex service provider for a fee, but a service provider that assumes all risks of the venture. The model contract significantly limits the Contractor s rights, making it clear that the Contractor obtains no property rights and no right to conduct for itself oil and gas operations. The contract is conceived as a thirty-five-year contract and contemplates several phases as follows: the Transmission Phase, in which Pemex transfers to the Contractor the contracted area along with its previous oil and gas and environmental related history; the Initial Phase, a two-year term that may be extended for one additional year in which the Contractor may test new technologies to increase production and perform exploratory work; and the Development Phase, which starts after the Contractor confirms in writing its will to move on to a development and production stage. All facilities and materials used by the Contractor automatically are transferred to Pemex and become its property. The Contractor is solely liable for any environmental obligations. Pemex has broad contract termination rights as is customary with state administrative contracts. The contract also includes broad indemnity provisions that favor Pemex s interest. The proposed model provides for Mexican law and for an ICC arbitration in Spanish and based in Mexico City with a specific waiver of attachment of assets ahead of an award. Notwithstanding the fact that significant foreign investment and technology are required to overcome the challenges of this area, Pemex legal strategy does not show significant changes to attract new players. In many ways it is reminiscent of the joint venture between the pig and the hen to make chicken and egg sandwiches. Since 2012, Mexico s new President, Enrique Peña Nieto, and the three main political parties signed a political compact pursuant to which an energy reform will be launched to attract foreign investment. Thus, hopes are high for the oil and gas industry and paradoxically the timing may not be the best for Chicontepec. Hopefully doing things right may allow Pemex to one day overcome the myth of Quetzacoatl. 7
8 Spotlight On: Eugene R. Preaus: 127 Years in the Practice of Law The first of my surname to immigrate to the United States was John Preaus. Exactly when he arrived, where he arrived and from whence he came, other than Prussia, is a mystery. In the 1830s, he ended up in New Harmony, Indiana, which had been the site of the communal experiment of Robert Owen. Several members of the Fauntleroy family, early settlers in Virginia, had been persuaded to join the Owen experiment in the mid-1820s, including my great-great great grandparents. Their last child, Virginia, was born after the move to New Harmony. She married John Preaus in 1849 and they lived in New Harmony until after the Civil War, when they moved first to Texas and then to Louisiana. Their oldest son was Frederick Fauntleroy Preaus, who had been born in New Harmony in He attended Concord Academy in Union Parish, met his wife, married and remained in Union Parish the rest of his life. Ultimately, he read law, passed the bar and practiced law in Union and Lincoln Parishes. Before practicing law, he was a master carpenter, building several houses in the town in which I grew up. Although built after he began the practice of law, one of the houses he constructed was our family home. After a due and strict examination in open Court, which occurred in Monroe, he was admitted to the bar of the State of Louisiana in In 1905, his oldest daughter, Virginia, married Clifton Mathews, who, just as his father-in-law did, was examined in open Court and was admitted to the bar of the State of Louisiana in Frederick Fauntleroy Preaus served as District Attorney for Union and Lincoln Parishes and was considering a run for District Judge at the time of his death in A few years later, for reasons of health, Clifton Mathews moved to Arizona with his family, where he engaged in the practice of law. In 1930, he was employed as special assistant attorney general and assisted in Arizona s fight over the Colorado River question. In 1933, he was appointed U.S. Attorney for Arizona and, in 1935 he was nominated to serve on the United States Court of Appeal, Ninth Circuit, where he served for almost thirty years. My father aspired to be a lawyer, but the Great Depression prevented that from occurring. His first cousin, George Mathews, did become a lawyer and practiced in Baton Rouge. In the next generation, there have been three lawyers, my brother, Frederick Fauntleroy Preaus, II, who practiced in Louisiana and in California, my cousin, Barbara Matthews Sweeney, who is corporate counsel in California, and me. 8 Chris Schmidt Associate, Gulfport Do you have a nickname? No nickname, but does hey you count? What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? I ve got 3 kids, an old house, and 2 acres of land to maintain- so spare time is sparse. On a very rare occasion, Mike Thompson may invite me to go fishing with him. Do you have any interesting plans for the future? Winning the Powerball. Is there anything about yourself that you can brag about? I can t brag about anything about me, but I can brag about my family- my wife and kids are the very bragworthymainly because they put up with me on a daily basis. Worked on any particularly interesting or funny cases? Needless to say, my former work as a prosecutor was filled with very interesting cases, not all of them very funny. But on one occasion, I was trying a habitually drunk driver for felony DUI. We had selected the jury and broke for lunch. Little did I know that the defendant had been on an all night bender and was high as a kite during his trial for DRIVING DRUNK. During the lunch break, he drove the wrong way down a one-way street and forced the judge (his judge for the trial) off the road and almost into a hedge row. It was classic. After lunch, the judge summoned a state trooper to the courtroom and had him arrested AGAIN for DUI. I couldn t stop laughing. What s your favorite movie and why? O Brother, Where Art Thou? Most clever Coen brothers movie ever made. If you could meet anyone from any era who would it be and why? I d like to meet my children when they re old and ask them what they remember most about their parents and grandparents. Do you have a favorite quote or saying? When people ask how I m doing, I like to tell them, Better than I deserve - which is a true statement.
9 Spotlight On: Luis Llamas Associate, New Orleans & Miami Where were you born and where did you grow up? I was born and raised in Miami, Florida. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? Reading, fishing, and spending time with my family. What is something most people don t know about you? I was quite the thespian in another life. Do you have any interesting plans for the future? I want to take my wife to Italy. She knows me best and says that I would love it. Have you taken the bar? Where? What area do you mostly practice in? I am licensed to practice law in Louisiana and Florida. Fowler Rodriguez has given me the opportunity to be involved in a wide array of cases. Over the last year I have been involved in multiple international arbitrations, litigation concerning a marine casualty in Mexico, several product liability suits and various issues involving Latin America. What is your favorite office activity and why? Christmas lunch at Arnaud s-- hands down. Great place, good company and the food is top-notch. What do you like about working at Fowler Rodriguez? The variety of cases we handle and the people. If you could meet anyone from any era who would it be and why? Tough question. Ernest Hemingway would be nice. Fishing, cigars, literature, Cuba I think we d hit it off. Cristina Casabianca Associate, Miami Where were you born and where did you grow up? Born and raised in Bogota, Colombia. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? I enjoy sailing, wakeboarding, running in the mornings, spending time with my family, and traveling. What is something most people don t know about you? I love scuba diving, but due to my small ear canals I am unable to go very deep under water because I can t equalize. Do you have any interesting plans for your future? I am going to Machu Picchu this year. I have been dreaming about this trip for a very long time, since I studied the Inca Empire in middle school. Have you participated in anything interesting lately? On June 15, 2012, President Obama signed a memo calling for deferred action for certain undocumented young people who came to the U.S. as children and pursued education or military service here. Applications under the program which is called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) began on August 15, I volunteered at a DACA clinic hosted by Legal Aid Service of Broward County and Hispanic Unity assisting participants who qualified in preparing the forms and documents necessary to apply for benefits under the DACA program. Have you done anything fun lately? It was fun representing Fowler Rodriguez at the Mercedes Benz Corporate Run in Miami. Our coed team finished 13th out of 30 firms, a good accomplishment for our first time participating. 9
10 New Hires: Matthew J. Crittenden Associate, Gulfport Matthew J. Crittenden recently joined Fowler Rodriguez at the Gulfport office, where he will be developing a Tax and Estate Planning practice in addition to a Real Estate practice. He will also be assisting with litigation, corporate and transactional work when necessary. Mr. Crittenden graduated from the University of Mississippi School of Law in Oxford, Mississippi, in 2012 and passed the bar exam in the same state later that year. In 2013, Mr. Crittenden graduated from Georgetown University Law in Washington, D.C., with a Tax LL.M. He finished both degrees with academic distinctions. Mr. Crittenden is involved in numerous charitable organizations, including the Free Assisted Self-Service Tax Preparation (FAST) of which he was a founding member. Though the organization now calls itself the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA), it continues to match IRScertified students and professors with the needy to assist with basic tax returns and e-filing. In spite of never receiving any formal training, Mr. Crittenden taught himself and learned from others the basics of welding and diesel machinery, most of which he learned while repairing classic Broncos in high school. Nowadays, though he lives in Gulfport, he still finds use for his skills like building John Scialdone barbecue racks large enough for steer quarters. Allison Hooker Associate, Houston Allison M. Hooker officially joined the Houston office of Fowler Rodriguez as a full time Associate after working for the firm as a contract attorney. She received her B.A. in History and Political Science from Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, in 2000 and graduated cum laude from the University of Houston Law Center in While at Southwestern, Allison was a three-time First Team All Conference selection in women s golf and was recognized by the National Golf Coaches Association as a scholar athlete. In law school, Allison was the Executive Editor of the Houston Journal of International Law and a member of the Order of the Barristers. Allison s practice focuses on insurance coverage, commercial litigation and maritime matters. She is admitted to practice in state and federal court in Texas and is a member of The Woodlands Bar Association and the Houston Bar Association. 10 Andrew R. Brown Associate, Houston Andrew R. Brown is a new associate in the Houston office of Fowler Rodriguez after practicing in the firm s New Orleans office for two years. As a litigator with significant transactional experience, his work focuses on energy and maritime law, insurance defense, interstate and international transportation, and, a wide range of transactional matters. Andrew s professional experience includes arguing in the Southern District of New York, the District of New Jersey, the New York Appellate Division, and the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals, as well as incident response work for international energy and shipping companies, working inhouse for an insurance broker, and working as a landman. Andrew obtained a Bachelor s Degree in English from The Ohio State University in 2003 and received his J.D. from The University of Tennessee College of Law in He was admitted to practice in New Jersey in 2006, New York in 2007, Louisiana in 2010, and Texas and Tennessee in Andrew received a highly coveted Eagle Scout Award in February He has written and published several articles. Gabriela Vera Case Manager, Miami Gabriela Vera joined Fowler Rodriguez in fall 2012 as Case Manager for the Immigration practice in Miami. Born in Caracas, Venezuela, and raised in both Caracas and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain, Ms. Vera holds a degree in Business Administration from the Jose Maria Vargas University in Caracas and speaks both English and Spanish. In terms of work experience, Ms. Vera spent 2 years at I.B.M. de Venezuela; 3 years at the Treasury Department of Manufacturas de Papel; and 10 years at Antonia Canero P.A. Immigration Law Firm. Rebeca García Paralegal, New Orleans Originally from Costa Rica, Rebeca Garcia has lived in New Orleans for over a decade. After earning her Bachelor of Arts from Loyola University, she has worked as an immigration paralegal and a Spanish translator and court interpreter. She has also volunteered at the Loyola Law Clinic. During her free time, Ms. Garcia writes for a local magazine called Invade NOLA; she has played the flute for over 20 years and is an avid runner who competes regularly.
11 Fowler Rodriguez Attorneys Around Town: Arbitration Hearing in New York for International Marine Salvage Client The Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame Caitlin Byars (Fowler Rodriguez), Jim Moore (JF Moore Int l), Hans van Rooij (Global Marine Solutions), John Driscoll (Marlinespike Marine, LLC), Jan te Haar, Cor Aurendik, Bas Coppes and Guillermo Hernandez (Mammoet Salvage Americas), and Tim Strickland (Fowler Rodriguez) attended an arbitration hearing for their client, Mammoet Salvage Americas, in New York City. The New Orleans Saints Game Cristi Fowler Chauvin (Fowler Rodriguez), John Kelly (Pan American Life Chairman Emeritus), Jan Mickan, Carlos Mickan (Pan American Life), Michael Harowski, George J. Fowler, III (Fowler Rodriguez), Ileana Suquet, Jose Suquet (Pan American Life), Joseph M. Suquet (Fowler Rodriguez), Jonathan Suquet (New York Life Insurance), Christian Chauvin (Bowen Miclette & Britt Insurance), Eugene Preaus (Fowler Rodriguez), Philip Brickman (Fowler Rodriguez), Cristina Fowler, and Ann Preaus attended the Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame dinner which honored five outstanding individuals, including Jose Suquet, Tom Benson, Roy Glapion, Patrick Quinlan, and Michael Rodriguez. USA vs. Ireland Rugby Match As season ticket holders, Fowler Rodriguez proudly supports the New Orleans Saints. Saints owner Rita Benson, Cristi Fowler Chauvin, and George J. Fowler, III are pictured here field-side at a season game. Julie Slocum (Ensco), Joe Terry, Graham Kenyon (Transocean), Darren Hedley (Ensco), and Brian Flint attended the USA/ Ireland rugby match in Houston. 11
12 Fowler Rodriguez Attorneys Around Town: George Fowler Authors Book: My Cuba Libre: Bringing Fidel Castro to Justice On January 1, 1959, nine-year-old George Fowler was awakened in his home by the sound of gunshots as Fidel Castro s army approached Havana, Cuba. His family fled to the United States to start new lives as Castro established a brutal regime in their beloved country. As chief legal counsel for the Cuban American National Foundation, Fowler has dedicated his life to the cause of Cuban freedom. My Cuba Libre is the very personal story of his lifelong battle to remove the dictator from power and bring democracy to his homeland. Fowler exposes the monstrous actions of the Communist Party of Cuba and makes a firm case for indicting Castro for crimes against humanity. Fowler also provides a first-hand account of events like the Elián González case, the Brothers to the Rescue shoot down, and Cuban embargo negotiations. With boldness and courage, My Cuba Libre attacks the status quo that has allowed Castro to remain on the world stage and makes a powerful argument for immediate change: I write to raise awareness of our struggle, to convince the world to take action. Fidel Castro cannot be allowed to spend his final years in luxury and power. Whoever becomes his successor after his death will only continue his legacy of bloodshed, cruelty, and hate. We must act now to bring freedom to the people of Cuba. George Fowler, descendant of the British Consul to Cuba, was born in Havana in 1950 and now lives in New Orleans. After Fidel Castro took control of Cuba in 1959, Mr. Fowler fled to the United States as a refugee. Mr. Fowler went on to become a lawyer and founder of Fowler Rodriguez. He never forgot his native land and denounced Castro for his crimes in every forum he could. In 1989, he became General Counsel of the Cuban American National Foundation, an organization which continues to attempt to bring Castro to justice for his crimes against humanity in many countries. Mr. Fowler was counsel in the Elián González case where he again repeatedly denounced Castro s crimes in the world media. Available on Amazon.com in print and in e-book form for ipad, Kindle, and Nook; or visit the Facebook page, If You Don t Like Fidel Castro, Like This Page for more information. 12
13 Fowler Rodriguez Attorneys Around Town: Havana Whites Celebration Sean Cummings, together with the International House, celebrated Cuban Independence Day. George Fowler spoke on the historical underpinnings of the event and toasted to hopes of a free Cuba at their Havana Whites celebration. The party featured music, dancing, daiquiris, mojitos, cigars, dominos and vintage cars to commemorate the days when Cuba was once free. Fowler is the General Counsel for the Cuban American National Foundation, which works to promote freedom and human rights in Cuba. George and Cristina Fowler, Sean Cummings (International House, owner), Vivian Serafina Charbonnet (artist) and Mario A. Muñoz (President, Turn Services). 13
14 Fowler Rodriguez Community Outreach: Louisiana Bar Association s 27th Annual Fellows Gala for Legal Justice Ladies in Red Gala, Benefiting the African American Heritage Preservation Program Sean Carrigan (CEO, ChargeQube), Caitlin Byars, Christian Sauce, Philip Brickman (Fowler Rodriguez) and Katie Single attended the LBA s Fellows Gala, an event that raises money for organizations advancing legal justice and education. Stuart Ponder (Fowler Rodriguez), Dr. Michelle Thiaville (Nicholls State University), Anna Breaux (LaPorte), and Susan Keller-Garcia (Fowler Rodriguez) supported the Preservation Resource Center at the 2013 Ladies in Red Gala. Zoo-to-Do for the Audubon Nature Institute Caitlin Byars (Fowler Rodriguez), Sean Carrigan (CEO, ChargeQube), and Stephen with wife Jennifer Hanemann (Becton Dickinson & Company) Salvador Munoz and Dr. Arachu Castro (Tulane University), Libby and Delos Flint (Fowler Rodriguez), and Ileana and Jose Suquet (Pan American Life) Held May 2, the Whitney Audubon Nature Institute s Zoo-to-Do benefited the renovation of Audubon Zoo s Discovery Walk. 14
15 Fowler Rodriguez Community Outreach: Tulane Law School Hall of Fame Loyola Law School Moot Court Banquet Wade Webster, Michael Harowski, Edward F. LeBreton, III, A. T. Chenault, Joseph M. Suquet, Christian Sauce, Jorge Torres and Caitlin Byars attended the Fowler-Rodriguez-sponsored Tulane Law Alumni Hall of Fame Lunch. Captain Kyle Rittiner, Cassie Preston, Caitlin Byars (Fowler Rodriguez), Phil Lorio (Hailey McNamara) and Jordan Jeansome (Hailey McNamara) attended the annual Loyola Moot Court Banquet held at the Hilton Riverside. The World Trade Center s Executive Speaker Series Featuring Manny Perez de la Mesa Bertel Award Ceremony Fowler Rodriguez attorneys Luis Llamas, Peter Thomson, and Philip Brickman attended the World Trade Center s Executive Speaker Series featuring PoolCorp s CEO and President, Manuel J. Perez de la Mesa (2nd from right). Pool Corporation is the world s largest wholesale distributor of swimming pool supplies and related equipment. The WTC s Executive Speaker Series was created in order to expose Louisiana businesses to insights from national industry leaders. Jacob Gardner, Lauren McCulloch, Susan Keller-Garcia, A. T. Chenault, Antonio J. Rodriguez and Cristi Chauvin attended the World Trade Center s Bertel Award ceremony for the honorable Joel T. Chaisson, Executive Director, Port of South Louisiana. 15
16 Fowler Rodriguez Community Outreach: The Hispanic Heritage Foundation Awards Scholarships After Their Primary Fundraiser, the Azucar Ball (2012) Each year, the New Orleans Hispanic Heritage Foundation (NOHHF) hosts a black tie affair, the Azucar Ball, which raises money for noteworthy Hispanic children to go to school. On November 16, 2013, the New Orleans Sugar Mill will be transformed back to the golden age of tango, with live tango performances and cuisine and cocktails inspired by Buenos Aires, Argentina. The evening will feature music by Julio and Cesar, an outdoor cigar lounge, scotch and whiskey bars, cuisine from the city s top rated restaurants, a silent auction featuring art, jewelry and more courtesy of generous local vendors and NOHFF sponsors. For sponsorship or volunteer opportunities please contact George Fowler, president of the NOHHF, speaks to the remarkable achievements of the scholarship recipients. His daughter, Cristi Fowler Chauvin, co-chaired the Azucar Ball, their primary fundraiser last year. Fowler helped start the program 24 years ago to support the young Latins in America. The Azucar Ball raises funds for noteworthy children to attend schools in New Orleans. Pictured here are some of the scholarship recipients. This year, Amy Dye, Martine Chaisson and Kelly E. Theard are co-chairing the Azucar Ball on November 16th. Patrick Quinlan (Ochsner), last year s Galvez Cup Recipient for outstanding community service, Nga Vu, and Mayra Pineda. 16
17 Fowler Rodriguez Community Outreach: The Houston Mariners Club 32nd Annual Cook-Off Fowler Rodriguez attorneys in attendance at the Houston Mariner s Club not only raised money for the Houston International Seafarers Centers at the Club s 32nd Annual Cook-Off, but the Houston office also jumped in to prepare a fresh-seafood feast. Crawfish was the name of the game at the Cook-Off: Bart Frames, Amy Oliphint, and Tim Strickland, pictured below left, stand in front of a steaming pan of mud-bugs; Kayleen Murphy, below center, peruses the goodies available at the Fowler Rodriguez table; and Amy Oliphint, below right, embraces the crustacean in both plush and plastic. 13th Annual Fishing Tournament On May 10, 2013, the Houston Mariners Club hosted its 13th Annual Saltwater Fishing Tournament. The tournament proceeds benefit the Kids Unlimited Foundation, which supports children battling cancer as well as their families. Tim Strickland, head of the Maritime practice group of the Fowler Rodriguez Houston office, has acted as Tournament Director since the event s inception. The firm is proud to announce that for the first time in the event s history, Fowler Rodriguez swept all three places. In years past, the money has been used to charter a party boat on which the Kids Unlimited children and their families go fishing offshore in the Gulf of Mexico for red snapper. Tim Strickland, Joe Terry (Terry & Thweatt), Brett Smith (USCG) and Capt. Drew Mattingly hooked the competition, coming in first place overall with a total stringer weight of nearly 28 pounds. Fowler Rodriguez Team 1, led by Tim Strickland and accompanied by Capt. Drew Mattingly, Joe Terry and Brett Smith (USCG), took first with a total stringer weight of nearly 28 pounds; FR Team 2, led by Captain Steve Hoyland, accompanied by Mark Brown (Hercules Offshore), David Tuley (Crump Ins.) and Ron Ellis (Chartis/AIG), took second with 25.5 pounds. FR Team 2 was a two-time repeating champion, having won the tournament the last two years; and FR Team 3, lead by Neil Clements and Mike Hoogeboom (Capital), along with their third angler, Mark Ray, took third place with 17.2 pounds. 17
18 Fowler Rodriguez Community Outreach: The NOHHF s Azucar Ball Silent Auction Dinner The American Heart Association George and Cristina Fowler with Gene and Ann Preaus cooked and served a delicious Mexican dinner to winning bidders Mr. and Mrs. John and Cheryl Teague at the NOHHF s Azucar Ball silent auction. The Saints Back to Football 5K Susan Tranchina, Carey Brassette, Susan Keller-Garcia, Margaret Riess, Patricia Bridges, Lauren McCulloch, Jacob Gardner, Rosa Rodriguez, Linda Becnel, LeMoyne Joseph, Norman C. Sullivan, Jr., Cynthia Harris, Erica Heath, Darlene Bolesny, Rebeca Garcia, Jacques P. DeGruy, Jacquelin Launey and Catherine Vollenweider are but a few Fowler Rodriguez employees who pledged with Tricia Otis (of AHA) to help fightheart disease by participating in the American Heart Association s Heart Walk onsaturday, November 2, 2013 at 9 AM at LaSalle Park. Partner Norman C. Sullivan, Jr. has led this campaign. Fowler Rodriguez s Houston Team, The Bayside Blue Claws Philip Brickman, Jennifer L. Dippel and Susan Keller-Garcia participated on behalf of Fowler Rodriguez for the Saints Back to Football 5K Run benefitting Team Gleason, The One Fund Boston, and the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation. The finish line was the 50-yard line of the Mercedes Benz Superdome and over 5,000 people participated. Fowler Rodriguez sponsors Tim Strickland s son Evan s baseball team in Houston. 18
19 Fowler Rodriguez Community Outreach: BBQ Under the Oaks for the Mississippi Gulf Coast Symphony Loyola Law School Race Judicata for Boys and Girls Hope Chris Schmidt and John Scialdone cook at BBQ Under the Oaks, a relaxed, family-friendly event held in the shade of dozens of centuries-old live oaks. The event features about 30 cooking teams of rib-meisters as they try to outdo each other to create the most succulent, fall-off-the-bone barbecue delicacies. This fundraiser has been benefiting the Mississippi Gulf Coast Symphony for several decades now-- it s a south Mississippi tradition! Mercedes Benz Corporate Run for United Way Sean Carrigan (CEO, ChargeQube), Caitlin Byars, Lauren McCulloch, and Michael Harowski (Fowler Rodriguez) all finished the 5K in under 34 minutes. Proceeds from the race benefit Boys and Girls Hope, which provides at risk children with stable homes, education and financial and emotional support. Hogs for the Cause, Benefiting Those Affected by Pediatric Brain Cancer Adhara Duran, Fernando Rojas, Daniela Campos, Cristina Casabianca, Vanessa Lagana, Rosie Benitez, Francis X. Sexton, James P. Gueits, Lourdes Cuzan, Olga Roque and Mabel Martinez ran a 5K as the Fowler Rodriguez team in the Mercedes Benz Corporate Run, the proceeds of which go to benefit the United Way. George Fowler, Luis Llamas (Fowler Rodriguez) and Sam Giberga (Hornbeck) at Hogs for the Cause. The event raises funds to provide relief for the economic burdens caused by pediatric brain cancer. 19
20 Appointments: Cristi Fowler Chauvin Co-Chair of the Transportation, Trade, and Logistics Subcommittee for the ProsperityNOLA Project for the New Orleans Business Alliance Chauvin and Greg Rusovich (Transoceanic Trading and Development Company) co-chaired the Trade, Transportation, and Logistics Subcommittee of the ProsperityNOLA Project, designed to drive economic growth in the city. They are pictured above with Chris Bonura (Port of New Orleans), Ti Martin (Louis Armstrong International Airport Board, Cafe Adelaide, Commander s Palace) and David Kearney (The Kearney Companies). Co-Chair of the Weiss Awards Jacques P. DeGruy, Jacob Gardner, Luis Llamas, Wade Webster, Michael Harowski, Christian Sauce, Lauren McCulloch, Caitlin Byars, Janet Colley (Dupuy Storage) and Cristi Fowler Chauvin attended the Fowler Rodriguez sponsored lunch for ProsperityNOLA, hosted by the New Orleans Business Alliance. Chair of the Young Professionals for the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce Chauvin has been named co-chair of the Weiss Awards with Mullady Voelker (Gifted Nurses) for the New Orleans Council for Community and Justice. The organization is dedicated to fighting bias, bigotry and racism in the metro area. It also promotes understanding and respect among all races, religions, and cultures through advocacy, conflict resolution and education. The Weiss Awards will be held on December 10, Chauvin serves as chair for the Young Professionals for the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce. David Francis (NOLA Media Group), Ben Johnson (New Orleans Chamber), David St. Etienne (UTSI), Gary Silbert (Entergy), Michael Tubbs (Bowen, Miclette & Britt), Fred Parker (New South Parking & Chamber Chair 2013), Ken Nelson (Waldemar S. Nelson & Co.), Alton McRee (Fidelity Homestead Savings Bank), Stephen Caputo (Hotel Monteleone), Ricky Mathews (NOLA Media Group), William D. Aaron (Aaron, PLC), Lucy Chun (RE/MAX), Melissa Gibbs (Gibbs Construction), Maggie Woodruff (New Orleans Regional Planning Commission), Cristi Fowler Chauvin and Lisa Blossman (New Orleans CityBusiness/NOPG) were in attendance at the NOCC s last meeting. 20