B. Otis Felder Of Counsel

     

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Otis Felder has substantial trial and appellate experience in state and federal court, and has represented various London Market insurers in a variety of coverage disputes. From his role as a partner in a firm specializing in representing the cruise industry, Otis accepted a position managing litigation as in-house counsel for Princess Cruise and Cunard, focusing on crew and passenger cases. He acted as a 24-7 resource for legal advice to all departments, including ongoing ship operations in a variety of legal jurisdictions. He later was engaged as general counsel for a company forming various theme cruises involving commercial transactions in promoting well-known national brands.

Otis also served as a Los Angeles Deputy City Attorney, successfully prosecuting hundreds of criminal violations, from arraignment through jury trial. He clerked for the Honorable Wallace Douglass in the San Francisco Superior Court, Criminal Division while in law school, and subsequently took a year’s sabbatical to volunteer to try cases, achieving a 98 percent conviction rate. In addition to advocating on behalf of crime victims, Otis volunteered to train cadets with the Los Angeles Police Department at the Ahmanson Recruiting Center in testifying for various court proceedings. He also volunteered with the Valor Citation Clinics for Veterans program, most recently at the Midnight Mission. Otis works with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department in supporting its Threat Interdiction Unit (TIU) team in the annual Baker to Vegas relay. 

Areas of Focus

Marine
Otis represents various cruise lines, vessel operators and owners as defense counsel in a wide range of assignments. His understanding of the costs of overseeing and managing claims has helped clients significantly reduce litigation expenses through engaging claimants in alternative dispute resolution. He also defends other matters involving marine employers, tugboat companies, commercial trucking, stevedores, commercial fishing vessel owners, and ports and terminals.

Otis has given presentations on a variety of marine environmental issues and other topics, including as a guest lecturer at the Udayana University in Bali, Indonesia. He has spoken on employee disputes, marine safety and security, and given updates on marine legal developments at venues such as the ABA Annual Convention, the Lloyd’s Maritime Academy in London, and the NPR radio show “Your Legal Rights,” KALW 91.7 FM.

Insurance
Otis has advised various London Market insurers as to coverage and contribution in the resolution of hundreds of health hazard cases throughout Southern California. In addition, he represents insurers’ interests in marine and shore-side pollution claims, including major coastal oil spills, terminal soil contamination and alleged noncompliance with the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, as amended (MARPOL). Otis served as an editor of the Litigation Highlights newsletter advising insurers on various coverage developments, and has authored articles for The International Journal of Insurance Law. In addition, Otis has chaired the Marine Insurance Section of the Pacific Admiralty Seminar held biannually in San Francisco.

Cannabis Law
As corporate counsel supervising brand protection and promotion, Otis brings to the emerging cannabis industry years of experience not only in overseeing transactional legal work but also in risk avoidance as to potential litigation. He has resolved business disputes among dispensary investors, assisted in defending against brand encroachment, counseled as to product development, and advised on insurance placement issues as well as corporate structuring to meet various local and state licensing requirements.  Otis has been invited to speak on various topics involving the industry, including recently on protecting and promoting cannabis brands and employment issues.  He also serves on various industry boards and panels, including the editorial board of the Cannabis Law Journal.  He is the author of “Gram Shop Liability for On-Site Cannabis Consumption in California,” examining potential liability arising from public cannabis consumption, as well as “Marijuana Impaired Driving: Proposed Updates to California’s Vehicle Code,” analyzing presumptions for driving under the influence of cannabis. As a former Los Angeles prosecutor whose experience included cases involving cannabis, Otis has successfully defended various criminal charges and continues to advise clients on how to comply with various cannabis-related rules and regulations.

Representative Matters

Prevailed in dismissal of a case brought by a passenger who claimed to have developed a blood clot following his fall from a power scooter aboard a coach transporting him during the land portion of an Alaskan vacation package.

Obtained dismissal in federal court action against London Market insurers based on the insured not making a prima facie showing that the underwriters' contacts with Hawaii satisfied the purposeful availment prong of the specific personal jurisdiction analysis, such that they should have reasonably anticipated being haled into court there.

Conceived and developed procedure for recognizing anti-suit injunction by Bermuda court and enforcing arbitration agreement of security guard seaman suing employer for alleged sexual assault by a crewmember.

Coordinated mass tort action involving passenger personal injury cases arising from cruise ship listing off the coast of Florida.

Successfully obtained demurrer and dismissal of matter brought by Californian Jones Act seaman based on forum non conveniens where seaman employer was primarily based in Seattle and the injury occurred in Alaska.

Prevailed on appeal in showing amendment to Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17204 – which had changed California’s Unfair Competition Law (UCL) standing requirements to require an allegation of injury in fact – was applicable even though the case was filed before passage of the amendment.

Consolidated and subsequently resolved civil collection matters involving claims for breach of contract, foreclosure on mechanic’s liens, open book accounts, account stated, quantum meruit, and unfair competition against defendant developers of a condominium project in Woodside, California.

Oversaw defense of cruise line in seeking dismissal based on forum non conveniens in case brought by security guard alleging injury due to pirate attack off coast of Somalia.

Quashed federal court subpoena duces tecum for production of third party’s tanker for inspection based on showing burdens outweighed needs for inspection.

Reported Decisions
Russul v. Zim Am. Integrated Shipping Servs. Co. (United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 2007) 2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 25264.

Thornton v. Career Training Center, Inc. (California Court of Appeal, 2005) 128 Cal. App. 4th 116, 26 Cal. Rptr. 3d 723.

Holland America v. Wartsila North America, Inc. (United States District Court, Western District of Washington, 2005) 2005 American Maritime Cases (AMC) 1769.

Paradise Cruise, Ltd. v. Michael Else & Co. (United States District Court, District of Hawaii, 2005) 2005 American Maritime Cases (AMC) 1572.

In re Air Crash at Taipei (United States District Court, Central District of California 2004) 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 31075.

Fitzpatrick v. Arco Marine (United States District Court, Central District of California, 2001)199 F.R.D. 663, 2001 American Maritime Cases (AMC) 1390.

Keith Whiteman v. Grand Wailea Resort (United States District Court, Northern District of California, 1999) 1999 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3594.

Ross v. F/V MELANIE (United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 1998)1998 U.S. App. LEXIS 577.

Chan v. Society Expeditions, Inc. (United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 1997) 1997 AMC 2713.

Boykin v. Boeing (United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 1997) 128 F.3d 1279.

Hunt v. Shipowner's Mut. Protection & Indem. (United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 1997) 119 F.3d 6, 1997 U.S. App. LEXIS 26074.

Long v. M/V Melanie (United States District Court, Western District of Washington 1996) 918 F. Supp. 323, 1996 American Maritime Cases (AMC) 1341.

Johnston v. M/V Dieu Si Bon (United States District Court, Western District of Washington 1996) 1996 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21522,1997 American Maritime Cass (AMC) 14.

Chan v. Society Expeditions, Inc. (United States District Court, Western District of Washington, 1995) 1995 American Maritime Cases (AMC) 2625. 

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