Lochner Law Firm, P.C.

Todd D. Lochner
Eugene E. Samarin
Gregory R. Singer

Lochner Law Firm, P.C.
Donner Building
91 Main St., 4th Floor
Annapolis, MD 21401

P: (443) 716-4400
F: (443) 716-4405

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Maritime News

This page is designed as an overview of current issues affecting the maritime industry.

Last Updated January 24, 2019

Lawsuit of Megayacht vs. 420

It seems that Tony Buckingham, owner of “The Beast” Ngoni, has no love for racing dinghies in his exclusion zone. In July a 420 sailing out of Courageous Sailing Center for Youth, the well-known and well-regarded nonprofit sailing center in Boston, Mass, allegedly scratched Buckingham’s $50 million sailing yacht, and it looks like the oil executive is trying to get even. Courageous has filed a limitation of liability action in federal court, using an obscure 1851 law to limit their liability for the allision to the value of the 420, estimated at $1,000. If successful, then despite all the lawyers’ fees in the world Courageous would not have to pay more than $1,000 to repair the damages Ngoni allegedly suffered.

The case is currently pending before the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts (Case No. 1:19-CV-10137-DPW). This case is Read More...

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USCG to Raise Marine Casualty Reporting Property Damage Thresholds

USCG Rule Change on 3/19/2018

Effective April 18, 2018, The Coast Guard is amending the monetary property damage threshold amounts for reporting a marine casualty and for reporting a type of marine casualty called a “serious marine incident” (an incidnet that triggers mandatory drug and alchohol testing). The original regulations were set in 1980s and have not been updated since. Updating the Updating the original regulations will reduce the burden on vessel owners and operators, and will also reduce the amount of Coast Guard resources expended to investigate these incidents.

The new threshold amounts are as folows:

  • Property Damage Threshold: $75,000
  • Serious Marine Incident: $200,000.00

For the full Rule summary, including USCG comments, please see the Federal Register

Thank you to WorkBoat for bringing this to our attention.

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USCG to begin Clean Up Efforts of Hurricane Irma

USCG Press Release 10/25/2017

State and federal responders are scheduled to begin vessel removal operations in Miami-Dade County on 10/26/2017 as part of ongoing response efforts following Hurricane Irma. Read More...

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Lawsuit Filed for Arrest of America's Cup Boat

A federal judge has ordered the arrested AC45 released from judicial custody after hearing arguments from both sides yesterday.  Team Oracle is now free to ship the AC45 to Bermuda, where it is expected to be based in the lead-up to the America's Cup World Series. The America's Cup AC45 "4 Oracle Team USA" was arrested by the U.S. Marshals, pursuant to a lawsuit filed in Federal Court by a former crew member against Oracle Racing and the AC45 itself.

Joe Spooner, Oracle Racing's former grinder and crew for two America's Cup titles and three Fastnet Race wins, is claiming a lien against the vessel for necessearies, and approximately $725,000 in unpaid wages plus punitive damages, for an alleged wrongful discharge by Team Oracle. Read More...

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Cape Wind Farm Legal Battle

Todd Lochner of Lochner Law Firm, P.C. and John Fulweiler of Fulweiler, LLC joined forces to file "a friend of the court" motion inserting themselves in the ongoing federal lawsuit against Cape Wind Associates. Lochner and Fulweiler are the first to articulate a case against the wind farm based on the navigational argument, and they arte asking the court to order the United States Coast Guard, which has already blessed the project, to take another look at the dangers posed by the Cape Cod wind farm project. Read More...

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2013 Changes to Boating Laws

Below is a summry of the major laws affecting the boating industry that were inacted during the 2013 legislative session. The States affected include Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia. Read More...

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FMC Consumer Alert - Warning to Yacht Purchasers

The Federal Maritime Commission issues a warning to yacht purchasers. The commission has recieved a rising number of complaints involving international transaport of yachts purchased by individual consumers. Examples include:

  • Delays in shipping and delivering cargo
  • Use of boilerplate contracts to allow shipping company to wait as long as a year to ship the yacht while requiring the consumer to pay storage fees and a significant penalty should the consumer cancel the transportation service
  • Failure of the shipping company to accurately disclose costs and delivery terms of service

The commision advises that in order to avoid problems with shipping yachts internationally, consumers should take the following precautions:

  • Ensure that the shipping company is FMC licensed and bonded. A list of licensed companies is available on the FMC Web Site
  • Read and understand the shipping company's written terms and conditions prior to contracting for services
  • Understand the shipping company's written terms and conditions prior to contracting for services
  • Ensure that any required delivery windows are specifically provided for in the written contract

For assistance resolving problems associated with an international yacht shipment to or from the US, please contact the Office of Consumer Affairs & Dispute Resolution Services at (202) 523-5807 or

Federal Maritime Commission News Release of April 11, 2013

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Senate Passes Bill to Cap Vessel Excise Tax for Boats Over $300,000

The Maryland General Assembly has passed Senate Bill 90, a law that caps Maryland’s vessel excise tax at $15,000 per vessel. For vessels under $300,000 the tax cap offers no benefit, but for vessels over $300,000 the tax savings can be enormous. The bill was proposed by John C. Astle, D-Annapolis, and the tax cap will last for three years.

The passage of the bill is a huge boon for yacht dealers, buyers, and maritime service professionals in Maryland. For years Maryland’s vessel excise tax was far above that of Virginia (2% with a $2,000 cap) and Delaware (no tax whatsoever). Any vessel registered in Maryland, sold in Maryland, or used for more than 90 days in Maryland was is required to pay the tax. More...

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US Supreme Court Defines What is a Vessel

In Lozman v. Riviera Beach, 568 U. S. ____ (2013), The Supreme Court decided that many structures which float and move on the water – floating homes, for instance – will no longer be considered “vessels” for purposes of federal law. This decision has sent shockwaves through the maritime community as the implications are enormous, for business and individuals alike. In a 7-2 decision, the Supreme Court has thrown out the century old definition and test for vessels and ordered that the lower courts decide on a case-by-case basis whether structures, like floating homes and casinos, are vessels or not. For the majority of these situations, nothing will change; if a structure looks and operates like a boat, it will still be a “vessel.” But for borderline cases, whether a floating structure is a “vessel” under Lozman will become a crucial issue. For now it’s clear the Court has narrowed the legal meaning of the word “vessel” considerably, and that owners of floating structures should consult their attorneys to determine whether the new rule will affect their interests. More...

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New Volatile Organic Compounds Emissions Regulations

The State of Maryland’s Department of the Environment (MDE) has proposed new regulations governing the emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from pleasure craft coating operations. VOCs, for the purposes of this regulation, are chemicals that are commonly found in many products used in boat construction and maintenance, such as bottom paints and gelcoats. The proposed regulations (COMAR §§ will affect many marinas and private boat owners throughout the state, as they will make some commonly-used paints and coatings obsolete, and impose greater liability upon the yards where coating operations are permitted. More...

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2012 Maryland Legislative Recap

The Maryland General Assembly has proposed a series of legislative changes that will significantly impact the Maryland maritime community. The proposed changes range from imposing a new tax on vessel purchase of new and used boats to increasing fees for boat registration. Moreover, the newly proposed fee schedule for water based construction projects could make a simple pier repair cost thousands in application fees alone. This office is not a lobbying firm, but we have received much correspondence from clients and the maritime community asking for us to share this information with the general public. Below, we have identified some of the proposed legislation that will impact the maritime industry. Some of the proposed bills maybe beneficial to the maritime community, however we have singled out those bills that will directly have a “negative” impact on the maritime industry and the casual boat user:

We would like to thank Boat US, Marine Trades Association of Maryland, and other Maryland maritime business and persons who have helped contribute information about these and other proposed changes. For more information on these and other proposed legislature, please contact your Representative and/or Senator.

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US Coast Guard Weight Restriction Now in Effect

As of December 1, 2011, the US Coast Guard calculated weight capacity has been increased to 185 pounds per passenger, regardless of gender. Recreational vessels and cruise ships are not effected by this new regulation. The new restriction follows a 2004 report by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, where it found that the average weight for a man between the ages of 20 to 75 is 191 pounds and 164 for women. Moreover, the change comes shortly after two tragic boating accidents, in Baltimore and New York, where the vessels involved were carrying the proper amount of passangers, but an excessive amount of weight.

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Maritime Law Enforcement Information Network

A new system of surveillance is coming to the Chesapeake Bay. Called the Maritime Law Enforcement Information Network, it is a network of cameras and radar to help monitor activity on the bay. This system will allow dispatchers to track and intercept suspicious vessels and to better assist distressed boaters. The cameras have a 3 to 5 mile range, while the radar can pick up 3-foot objects from up to 7 miles away. Law enforcement officers and dispatchers will be able to monitor situations in real time and respond to them accordingly. The system will also allow officers to set up electronic "lines" around sensitive areas that would activate alarms and cameras when crossed by a vessel. It is a powerful surveillance system that could transform maritime law enforcement on the Chesapeake Bay.

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2010 Changes to Boating Laws

Below is a summry of the major laws affecting the boating industry that were inacted during the 2010 legislative session. The States affected include Arizon, California, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, North Carolina,and Vermont. Read More...

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