Word With...Michael Moore
par excellence and capital partner at Holland & Knight law firm, Michael
Moore, is a Florida native who has been at the center of some of the most
interesting maritime lawsuits of the last three decades. His first job
after law school was with the New York firm that represented the bygone
White Star line, which handled suits surrounding the sinking of the Titanic,
among other remarkable cases. PMY recently caught up with Moore
to discuss the legal perspective of all matters maritime.
Q: What drew
you to maritime law?
legal specialty, which goes back to the time of the Phoenicians, always
seemed very romantic to me. It’s the law of the sea, commerce among
nations, and seafaring people all rolled into one specialty. Everyday
I think how fortunate I am to practice in this area of the law.
Q: Are your clients
typically boaters, builders, or other companies?
of the above, and they range from supertankers to superyachts. I work
mostly with owners to address their conflicts and relationships with insurance
companies, manufacturers, and intrusive governmental agencies.
What’s so enjoyable
to me about this profession are the people. Boaters are just different.
They’re free spirits, and I believe as a rule they enjoy life more.
There’s a common thread that runs between them. You can hear it in
Jimmy Buffett’s songs.
Q: What kind
of legal problems do these “free spirits” generally encounter?
the owner suffers some kind of loss, sometimes their entire boat, and
for some reason their insurance company won’t pay—collisions,
sinkings, groundings, fires, you name it. There are a lot of esoteric
rules unique to maritime law. Then there are issues with builders and
yards. The most challenging are the ones where a boater is up against
a manufacturer who was building the boat of their dreams, and for whatever
reason the dream becomes a nightmare.
Q: I understand
you often work with celebrities.
A: I have
worked with a lot of famous, and some infamous people. It’s interesting
to see how these people live imprisoned by their own celebrity. And there
so many remarkable, phenomenal people out there who are not celebrities,
but who are fortunate enough to own a boat of whatever size and class
which is, as they say, the ultimate toy. These are the people I enjoy
working with the most.
your favorite case that you were part of?
inconsistent with the pleasureboating side of my practice, I enjoyed defending
Exxon in an Exxon Valdez case filed in Florida. It was exciting
to be defending one of America’s great corporations as it was vilified
daily in the press. But every case is a favorite; for me it’s like
asking, “do you like your left hand better than your right?”
outside was frightful, but this fire was not at all delightful.
Just weeks before Christmas,
a blaze ripped through the oldest boatyard in Cape Cod, destroying more
than 50 luxury boats.
At presstime, local
firefighters and members of the Coast Guard were still determining whether
an accident or arson was behind the fire that devastated the historic
Crosby Yacht Yard in Osterville, Massachusetts. Though no one was injured,
witnesses said the flames shot 50 feet into the air.
The December 11 conflagration
spread to the facility’s three large boat-storage sheds, where flames
devoured almost all of the fiberglass and wood boats. Because some had
been stored with full fuel tanks, explosions boomed sporadically through
the night as more than 100 firefighters sought to contain the fire.
Witnesses reported that
as Gregory Egan, the owner of the yard, watched the destruction, he lamented
the fact that the storage sheds were almost filled to capacity for the
types of boats in there,” he said. “Beautiful boats, nice boats.
That’s the worst thing about it.”
Got an interesting
boating story for this column? Write to FYI, Power
& Motoryacht, 260 Madison Ave., 8th Fl., New York, NY 10016.
Fax: (917) 256-2282. e-mail: email@example.com.
No phone calls please.
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