Larry Brennan heads the Admiralty & Maritime practice in the firm’s New York office. He has served both with the U.S. Department of Justice and with the U.S. Navy, ashore and afloat. Larry’s international practice is focused on federal civil litigation involving every aspect of admiralty proceedings and insurance disputes, and he routinely appears in federal courts and arbitrations throughout the country. He is a long-time proctor member of the Maritime Law Association of the United States.
Drawing on decades of litigation experience, Larry represents hull and machinery insurers, cargo insurers, liability insurers and mutuals, primary and excess insurers and reinsurers – both domestic and international – in coverage and bad faith matters. He also defends maritime casualty proceedings at trial and on appeal. Larry personally has tried more than 100 cases to verdict and has overseen more than 100 other prosecutions. He has extensive experience handling high-profile and complex matters.
Military and Government Service
Larry commanded two reserve units, one at the Naval War College and the other the Navy’s Admiralty Law Unit; he was the Navy’s senior admiralty counsel, and retired as a Captain in the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps. Larry has participated in numerous government investigations as counsel for private parties and for the government. He also previously was a litigator at the U.S. Department of Justice where he tried and handled the full gamut of maritime matters for the United States in the District Court and the Courts of Appeals. He served as counsel to the commander of the Naval Space Command and personal counsel to the four-star Commander, U.S. Pacific Command. He has been a consultant to the U.S. Department of State and other federal and municipal agencies. Larry was designated as a trial litigator for both the Department of Justice and the Navy and was nominated to be the environmental war crimes prosecutor following the liberation of Kuwait in 1991. He has received awards from both the Attorney General of the United States and from the Department of the Navy for superior professional performance.
Larry frequently presents lectures on admiralty and maritime law, international law, marine insurance, war risk insurance, terror risk coverage and federal civil litigation to corporations, insurers, brokers and senior government officials and clients in the United States, Japan, Korea and Europe. He also has lectured at the U.S. Naval War College, St. John’s University, and George Washington University School of Law. In addition, he has published numerous articles on maritime law, navigation, nautical and naval history, and philately. He has appeared as a commentator on national television.
Areas of Focus
Admiralty & Marine
Larry has represented clients in admiralty and marine litigation involving environmental claims by governmental and private parties, major marine casualties, hull losses, cargo damage and losses, marine product liability, arrests and attachment, commercial marine matters, maritime liens, and charter party disputes. He acts as coverage counsel as well as counsel of record for insurers and their policy holders. Of note, Larry has been involved in more than a dozen matters involving major oil spills, including one of the first cases to be litigated under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA 90). He also has handled many ship explosion and fire cases, collisions, and groundings.
Among the many high-profile matters in which Larry has been involved during his career, he handled a fatal collision involving a nuclear submarine that drew intense and prolonged international attention and personal direction from the president of the United States and secretary of state. He prosecuted the commanding officer and the second senior officer of a warship for crimes that drew national press. He also prevailed on an insanity defense for a client at a court-martial, an unusual result in a military trial.
Within three years of admission to practice, Larry was selected at age 25 to be counsel for the world’s largest nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, a billion-dollar asset with more than 6,000 officers and crew members. For two years he was counsel to the ship’s commanding officer, the embarked admirals, and commanding officers of subordinate units and accompanying ships. In addition, he participated in the Iranian Hostage Rescue attempt and on the same ship he investigated a major air crash that resulted in 14 fatalities, 50 serious injuries and more than $750 million in damage to aircraft. As a result of that investigation, the U.S. military adopted a “Zero Tolerance” anti-drug program that has significantly reduced criminal drug use in the services and was expanded to government and private industries.
MV J MARION SKY M.V. INDUSTRIAL CENTURY: Collision and subsequent sinking of ship in the Caribbean with total loss of cargo and multiple fatalities. Limitation proceedings in Singapore, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, and London arbitration all resolved prior to trial.
MV KARTERIA: Counsel for charterer’s excess insurers on claims for hull damage and indemnity for crew members’ death and injury claims arising from shipment of hazardous cargo. London arbitration and litigation in Louisiana federal and state courts. Settled following London arbitration.
PLAYERS II: Counsel for excess insurers in multiple proceedings involving more than 40 injury claims and one death claim alleging toxic exposure. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held that the gambling staff were not Jones Act seamen and dismissed the proceeding as a matter of law.
S.S. PUERTO RICAN: Constructive total loss of tank ship, partial loss of cargo, death and multiple injuries due to explosion in San Francisco Bay. Settled prior to trial. Limitation of liability proceeding transferred by motion from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
M.T. MAASGUSAR: Total loss of chemical ship, crew and cargo following explosion near entrance to Tokyo Bay. Settled at pre-trial mediation. Litigation in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.
MV DG HARMONY: Coverage counsel for excess insurer. Constructive total loss of container ship as a result of explosion and fire in cargo holds. Multimillion-dollar judgment for hull and cargo affirmed following two appeals before the Second Circuit.
MV CONTSHIP FRANCE: Coverage counsel for excess insurer. Constructive total loss of container ship as a result of explosion and fire in cargo holds. Defense judgment for shipper of cargo in Southern District of New York and affirmed by the Second Circuit.
F/V EHIME MARU-USS GREENEVILLE: Multiple losses of life and injuries and toll hull loss as the result of collision with surfacing U.S. nuclear submarine. All claims resolved prior to litigation.
DSV MR. SONNY: Damage to submarine electric cables in Long Island Sound. Complex, multiparty limitation of liability proceeding in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Settled at mediation.
DREDGE PENNSYLVANIA: Total loss of vessel and environmental damage claim as a result of stranding off New York Harbor. Petition for limitation of liability denied after lengthy trial and affirmed on appeal by the Second Circuit. Settled prior to damages trial.
MV MAERSK TOKYO: Hull and cargo damage caused by explosion of bunker tank that was being welded by ship’s crew. Settled following judicial mediation in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Rapture Shipping v. Chemoil: Defense of bunker supplier in action for ship engine damage and delay claim. Prevailed on motions to compel San Francisco arbitration and to vacate ex parte foreign attachment.
Motor Yacht CATCH THIS: Product liability, personal injury and indemnity claims arising from fire on yacht. Settled in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut.
MV PINA PRIMA: Damage to a shipment of U.S. commodities. Settled after Second Circuit Court of Appeals decision providing for New York arbitration.
MV SPAR EIGHT: Damage to a shipment of Brazilian commodities. Settled prior to trial in U.S. District Court for Southern District of New York.
MV AGHIA SOPHIA: Damage to a shipment of Brazilian soybeans. Settled at judicial mediation prior to trial in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
MV CASTILLO DE ALMANSA: Damage to a shipment of U.S. soybeans. Settled following dismissal of appeal by U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit from order of U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York compelling New York arbitration and denying petition to compel London arbitration.
Raphalley v. Waterman: Damage to shipments of African soybeans shipped to the United States. Settled following affirmance of liability judgment by U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
MT FORMOSA THREE: Contamination of a shipment of petrochemicals. Settled during discovery in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
MT EOS: Counsel for vessel charterer. Arbitration addressing charter party disputes, including petroleum contamination and demurrage disputes. New York arbitration, District of New Jersey and Third Circuit.
Certain Underwriters v. United States: Claim by war risk insurers to recover for loss of aircraft destroyed during U.S. invasion of Panama. Dismissed by U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Royal v. DaimlerChrysler Corporation: Engaged as settlement counsel for insurer regarding four incidents concerning claims of weather-related damage to or loss of insured’s vehicles in ports in the Western Hemisphere. Resolved by direct settlement in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
GLOMAR JAVA SEA: Represented insurers in fatal loss of oil exploration vessel in South China Seas off Hainan Island with 81 men on board.
Targa Midstream v. K Sea: Counsel for excess liability insurers. Environmental damage claim, constructive total loss of tank vessel and petroleum cargo arising from contact between tank vessel and wreckage of a platform damaged by Hurricane Katrina. Tried and settled in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.
Royal Insurance v. Deep Sea International: Counsel for hull underwriters. Declaratory judgment action on total loss of vessel and scientific research equipment. Settled prior to trial U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
American Home Assurance v. The Babcock & Willcox Company: Counsel for excess liability insurers. Declaratory judgment action arising from $387 million jury verdict in Chicago litigation concerning explosion and fire at petroleum refinery. U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
Santos v. American International Group: Counsel for insurers. Coverage litigation under transit policy for loss of art and bad faith claims. Settled Supreme Court New York following remand from U.S. District Court for Southern District of New York.
IN THE MATTER OF THE COMPLAINT OF TSACABA SHIPPING: Multiple ship collisions in Tampa Bay resulting in massive environmental pollution, cargo, hull and injury claims. First major OPA 90 case litigated. Hull, cargo, injury, governmental and private environmental claims settled prior to trial in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.
S.T. AMOCO CADIZ: Massive environmental claims arising from stranding of vessel off the coast of France. Trial in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and affirmed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
MT GRAND EAGLE: Major pollution incident by tanker on the Delaware River. Represented United States and liaison to state-federal environmental task force. Litigation in Eastern District of Pennsylvania and in the Southern District of New York against vessel owners and operators and issuers of pollution liability certificates of financial responsibility.
Bodily Injury and Death Cases
MV Ready Jet Go: Fatal collision between rowing craft and powered boat on the Harlem River. Resolved at fourth mediation session. Counsel for two limitation petitioners in proceedings in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Nieva v. United States: Seaman’s Jones Act claim dismissed following trial in the Southern District of New York; affirmed on appeal by the Second Circuit.
Morris v. United States: Seaman’s Jones Act claim for permanent and complete disability resulting in a $30,000 judgment after trial in the Southern District of New York.
Figueroa v. United States: Defense of death and bodily injury claims arising from capsizing of pleasure craft allegedly as a result of government’s failure to remove or mark wrecks. Judgment for United States after trial in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
Sylvester v. United States: Defense of United States in limitation proceeding arising from Coast Guard cutter “running over” scuba diver in Shark River Inlet. Matter resolved prior to trial in District of New Jersey.