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Neil is a Southern California Super Lawyer for 2012, 2013, 2014 and now for 2015, who practices maritime and transportation law in state and federal court. He represents insurers in first and third party cases as well as insurance fraud investigations and coverage matters, and local transportation companies in business litigation, unfair competition cases, class actions and transactional matters.
He recently prevailed in a five week jury trial involving negligent hiring, two published appellate opinions, one published district court opinion, a second jury trial involving unfair competition claims between competing ferry companies, and an administrative hearing at the California PUC.
In March 2011, he forced the California Department of Industrial Relations to withdraw fines it had issued to commercial vessel owners for not maintaining workers compensation insurance because vessel owners maintain Jones Act coverage instead.
In June 2011, he succeeded, for the third time in 15 months, in defending a terminal operator from claims by an injured longshoreman under the LHWCA joint venture immunity defense.
He has been featured in the LA Times, The LA Daily Journal, Forbes and LA Magazine and was designated a “Go-To” lawyer by Corporate Counsel Magazine for litigation. He continues to be a guest speaker at seminars worldwide on such topics as preventing fraud, combating piracy, fighting state interference in federally regulated industries, complying with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and on navigation and exploration rights, domestic and international.
He represented Cigna in the Rex DeGeorge case, which started in Italy and ended in LA with Mr. DeGeorge going to federal prison for insurance fraud for scuttling his vastly overinsured yacht on its maiden voyage. His true crime book about that case, which a federal judge called "the single most incredible story I’ve ever heard from the stand," is entitled "Act of Piracy," and is under a publishing contract with Morgan James (NY).
In 2012, he became one of the first Certified Admiralty & Maritime Law Specialists in California. He was also appointed to the bar's Admiralty and Maritime Law Advisory Commission, on which he now serves. He is counsel for port trucker Pac Anchor in a case currently before the CA Supreme Court, People ex rel. Harris v. Pac Anchor Transportation., Inc, which is fully briefed as of Octobe 2012, and awaiting oral argument (which he will argue) and which will address a fundamental question of transportation law: whether a state may use its unfair business practice statute as an enforcement mechanism against a trucker in a preempted industry? He co-authored a White Paper on the subject in April 2012. In August 2012, he was invited to author the maritime and admiralty law section of the Library of Law, an England based on-line international resource.
On October 12, 2012, he won a two week jury trial proving that his client had been the victim of unfair competition in the whale watching industry, which was based, in part, on the competitors misuse of Google adwords.
He also participated, in 2012, as a participant in four industry roundtable seminars for the SF Marine Claims Association, the International Association of Marine Investigators, Markel American Insurance and, at the DRI seminar in NYC, for the Markel Claims Counsel seminar.
In February 2013 he obtained a judgment and a permanent injunction against two whale watching competitors of his client arising out of the unfair competition trial he won in October 2012. On June 10, 2013, he obtained a judgment of exoneration for a client in an Arizona federal court Limitation of Liability action, CV 11-8131, arising out of a dockside fire that originated on his client's vessel, and spread to others, and caused almost two million dollars in vessel and dock damage. On June 14, 2013, he prevailed in the appeal of another anti-SLAPP motion. On August 9, 2013, in a 52 page opinion, D059413, he prevailed in the appeal of a trial that he won in 2011 thereby upholding several fundamental principles of admiralty law, whichi is 218 Cal. App. 4th 1485 (2013).
On 1/1/14 his firm joined with SF based Cox Wootton to form Cox Wootton Lerner Griffin Hansen & Poulos. On May 13, 2014, he won summary judgment on a $1.3 million cargo case in federal court upholding the $500 COGSA package limit for his client, Hartford Fire v. Total Terminals International. In May 2014, he participated in the Markel Marine Summit, by invitation. On May 28, 2014, he presented oral argument at the CA Supreme Court in the Pac Anchor case and the case now stands submitted.
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|Award name||Grantor||Date granted|
|Southern California Super Lawyer||Super Lawyers||2013|
|Author-Content Contributor||Library of Law-Section on Shipping Litigation||2012|
|Admiralty and Maritime Law Advisory Commission||State Bar of California||2012|
|Certified Specialist - Admiralty & Maritime Law||State Bar of California||2012|
|Top Attorneys in Southern California||Los Angeles Magazine||2012|
|Super Lawyer||Southern California Super Lawyers||2012|
|GLG Council Member||Gerson Lehrman Group||2011|
|Special Tribute to America's Best Lawyers||Sky Radio Network||2008|
|Go-To Lawyer Southern California (litigation)||Corporate Counsel||2007|
|Meet America's Best Lawyers-LA'S & OC'S Finest||KTLK Talk Radio 1150||2005|
|Honorary Speaker||Texas House of Representatives||2004|
|Partner||Sands Lerner||1990 - Present|
|Associate||Wilner Narwitz and Klien||1986 - 1990|
|Association name||Position name||Duration|
|Maritime Law Association of the United States||N/A||N/A|
|Transportation Lawyers Association||N/A||N/A|
|People v. Pac Anchor Transportation, Inc.||Trial judgment for Defendant, reversed by Court of Appeals and now pending before the CA Supreme Court.|
|Markel Am. Ins. Co. v. Woolard||Default Judgment for Plaintiff|
|In re Gibson||Motion to Enforce Settlement Granted|
|See all legal cases|
|Morgan James (NY) (Under Contract)||An Act of Piracy (True Crime Book)||N/A|
|The International Fraud Update Newsletter||Strictly By Accident||N/A|
|Los Angeles Business Journal||The Case Against Fraudsters||N/A|
|National Association of Fraud Investigators||Fraud: A Success Story||N/A|
|Fraud Focus Magazine||Swamped with Suspicion, How Cigna Trumped the Boat Bully||N/A|
|Tulane University||Law||JD - Juris Doctor||1985|
|Tulane University||Political Science||BA - Bachelor of Arts||1982|
|University of Bristol||Politics||JYA||1981|
|Markel Claims Counsel, DRI.||Recent trends in California insurance law.||2012|
|Markel American Marine Summit||Panel Participant||2012|
|February Luncheon||The Use of Policy Rescission in Litigating Marine Coverage Disputes||2012|
|22nd Annual Training Seminar||Marine Fire Investigation||2012|
|Special Event||Suggested Procedures for a Marine Terminal Incident.||2011|
|CNA Conference||The Role and Effective use of Policy Rescission||2011|
|Seatte Marine Claims Lunch||Pirates on the High Seas: New Risk, Old Risk or Fraud Risk?||2010|
|Markel American Marine Insurance Summit||Insurance Defense||2010|
|Institute for Health Care Fraud||Insurance Fraud-Health||2008|
|Fort Lauderdale Boat Show||Foreign Corrupt Practices Act||2008|
|Transportation Law||Trucking Industry Litigation-Recent Developments||2007|
|Markel's Conference (Cabo San Lucas)||Marine Claims Tips||2007|
|IAMI Annual Conference||Marine Insurance Fraud||2005|
|Houston Marine Insurance Seminar||The Rex DeGeorge Case||2004|
|International Association of Special Investigations Units||Marine Insurance Fraud||2003|
|IAMI Annual Conference||The Rex DeGeorge Case||2003|
|Marine Underwriters of Southern California||Maritime Law||2000|
|American Marine Insurance Forum||Marine Insurance||1999|
|Pacific Admiralty Seminar||Rescission of Marine Insurance Case Study||1998|