When people, products or goods start to move, transportation companies and organizations confront the “law in motion” – the full range of legal, regulatory, compliance and other related issues. These issues often converge and constantly change.
Eckert Seamans does not utilize a one-track approach to transportation issues. Rather, it uses the full extent of its full-service, multi-disciplinary resources. In a legal sense, these resources have paved the way for thousands of miles of smooth, open-road travel for trucking, turbulence-free air miles for aviation, and efficient and comprehensive mobility for public transit.
It takes people, machines, equipment and infrastructure to make society move. With each layer, a new dynamic is added to the simple equation of working to make sure that passengers, important cargo and critical shipments reach their destinations as safely and timely as planned. Inherent to the firm’s Transportation Industry Group is a complete understanding that at each layer, a host of new or potential legal issues and questions must be considered and addressed. It has been with this holistic view that Eckert Seamans has built its Transportation Group around three primary transportation disciplines:
- Trucking & Logistics;
- Public Transit;
- Railroad LItigation.
Trucking & Logistics
Eckert Seamans’ Trucking & Logistics practice is centered on helping its clients address the challenges of a constantly changing regulatory, economic and competitive environment while shipping products and goods over multiple forms of infrastructure at wide-ranging volumes.
While many clients at first may have turned to Eckert Seamans for legal counsel and support on regulatory and compliance matters at the local, state and federal levels, they quickly find they had a broad and deep resource in Eckert Seamans attorneys who also provide support on matters that include: corporate finance, catastrophic accident investigation and defense, litigation, labor and employment issues, environmental, insurance, contracts and procurement.
The firm’s attorneys have represented clients on regulatory and safety matters before the U.S. Department of Transportation. They have dealt with everything from wage and hour issues and discrimination claims, union issues, to matters involving independent contractors and policy administration. Cargo claims and disputes between consignees and consignors are commonplace, and the firm has found expeditious means for resolving them.
Eckert Seamans attorneys have intimate knowledge of what transport firms face every day. They have been on the road, working directly with drivers on establishment of safety rules and procedures, proper loading requirements and techniques, logbook violations and compliance, and on issues centered on hours of service. Firm attorneys have worked inside trucking and logistics firms and they have worked for the U.S. Department of Transportation. When it comes to trucking and logistics, Eckert Seamans sees the big picture from the inside out and from the ground up.
Eckert Seamans’ Rapid Response Teams
Because our clients in the trucking and logistics industry operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Eckert Seamans has established its own Rapid Response Teams of legal professionals ready to provide concentrated support as needed and where needed within its Eastern United States footprint of operation. The firm has established a network of legal and non-legal professional support in the event of an accident at any time of day. The firm is prepared to send its attorneys, engineers and other professionals to the site of an accident within two hours of the event. While on site, they can provide the necessary resources to collect facts, interview witnesses, and if need be commence with accident reconstruction. If required, the firm can also tap hazmat firms to remediate environmental situations, and criminal defense counsel if necessary.
When it comes to air transport, Eckert Seamans’ comprehensive approach to the law in motion starts with both the point of origin and destination and includes aircraft owners and operators, airport operators, and suppliers and vendors to the industry.
Eckert Seamans attorneys have represented large established airlines as well as new entrant international airlines on legal issues arising from their operations to the United States. These include: obtaining operating licenses; representing airlines before the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA); obtaining charter authority and operational authorizations; assisting airlines in obtaining FAA air operating certificates and compliance; negotiating U.S. customs and immigration issues; and advising airlines on consumer issues, such as advertising rules and potential unfair competitive practices.
Airlines also turn to Eckert Seamans for help in the purchase, leasing and financing of aircraft; for help in dealing with U.S. employment laws that affect foreign and domestic employees; for representation on issues that involve leases for gates, airport user fees and other operational issues; for litigation representation; tax counsel representation; and U.S. and international trademark representation.
On the ground, both public and private entities involved with the location and construction of airports turn to Eckert Seamans attorneys for help with airport maintenance, operation and expansion. The firm taps its multi-disciplinary approach to address specific challenges such as contract law, procurement, real estate and construction, public finance, labor and employment, environmental and litigation.
More specifically, firm attorneys have helped airport operators build new terminals, re-negotiate airport concessions programs, improve safety areas on site, finance major maintenance and expansion projects, and handle complex leasing programs. In the coming years, airports will embark on new projects centered on upgrades to runways, capacity, and the aviation system itself, including new air traffic control towers, radar equipment and intermodal connections. The aviation attorneys at Eckert Seamans are prepared to provide sound and effective legal counsel because they have the experience required to make an immediate impact.
Transit operators require comprehensive legal solutions because their needs are as comprehensive as any entity within the transportation sector. Frequently, the same client owns and is responsible for everything within its loop, from the real estate on which the infrastructure for transit is built, to the ownership and maintenance of the vehicles, and the employment of the work force charged with maintaining and operating the organization. Transit operators cannot afford to address one legal issue at a time, but must be able to simultaneously meet the constant demands for performance, safety, quality maintenance, expansion and the effective management of a large and diverse work force, and even retirees.
With this in mind, Eckert Seamans has developed its Public Transit Group into a broad-based and highly specialized practice in the area of mass transportation law, which is nationwide in scope.
The firm has used its trademark multi-disciplinary approach to represent clients that range from city and county governments, to public transit agencies, private management companies and transit suppliers. Firm attorneys are highly trained and well-versed in meeting the needs of public transit clients. They have represented clients on government affairs and procurement, state and federal regulatory compliance; pension and employee benefits; public financing; construction contracts; litigation; labor and work force issues; real estate and eminent domain; and supplier contracts.
The firm has represented clients before the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the U.S. Department of Transportation, the U. S. Department of Labor, the Interstate Commerce Commission, Congress, various departments and agencies and state and federal courts.
Railroad Industry Litigation involves both unique equipment and a unique operating environment, where special legal rules and regulations apply. Our understanding of the interplay between the Federal regulations Federal Employees Liability Act (FELA) and state common law that we have successfully defended several of the country’s leading railroad companies.
Our lawyers have successfully handled personal injury and property damage litigation arising out of incidents such as train/motor vehicle railroad grade crossing accidents, train to train collisions and toxic exposure. Most of these cases involve catastrophic injuries with substantial damages which make for high-stakes litigation.
Our experience covers the broad spectrum from accident and pre-lawsuit investigations, to trial work, through appellate court arguments. Indeed, Eckert Seamans lawyers are at the forefront of the preemption issue.
Beyond railroad industry litigation, Eckert Seamans lawyers have experience with commercial railroad related disputes and issues, such as antitrust, intellectual property, patent infringement, pricing, rights of way, breach of contract and bankruptcy.
Frank C. Botta
Joel L. Lennen
Evelyn D. Sahr
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Drew Derco Joins Eckert Seamans’ Washington, D.C. Office