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Alfred J. Kuffler
Philadelphia Office

1735 Market Street
21st Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19103-7505

P: 215-772-7454
F: 215-772-7620

New York Office

437 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10022

P: 212-201-1931
F: 212-599-1759

Biography

Alfred J. Kuffler has more than 40 years of admiralty, insurance coverage and defense, commercial contract, maritime products liability and construction law experience, representing national and international clients in the marine, insurance, transportation, energy, commodity trading and heavy manufacturing industries.

His maritime and admiralty practice concentrates on hull, cargo, pollution, salvage, charter, maritime contract matters, personal injury and general maritime lien issues, together with marine and energy insurance and reinsurance cases. Experience in the charter arena includes representation of both owners and charterers. Representation in maritime pollution incidents began with the original Clean Water Act in the early 1970s and continues to the present.

Fred’s insurance practice has included coverage disputes, defense and prosecution of subrogation claims. Coverage issues have involved both direct and reinsurance matters in the marine and non-marine contexts.

Commercial cases have included disputes over leases for land and ships, the purchase and sale of commodities, and financing instruments such as letters of credit, used in international trade.

Fred also coordinated a nationwide project for the submission of amicus curiae, or friend of the court, briefs on issues of interest to his clients arising out of environmental coverage cases.

In addition to his broad trial experience, Fred has considerable experience with alternative dispute resolution procedures. He has represented parties to arbitral proceedings and private mediations, and has sat both as an arbitrator and mediator. He has represented a claimant with a major claim at the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal.

Fred’s practice also has a transactional side, which involves negotiating and providing advice to clients on issues related to contracts falling within the areas of substantive practice, risk management matters, and environmental concerns within the marine industry. He has drafted insurance and reinsurance policy contracts. He also has negotiated and drafted contracts for a major project involving the importation of liquified natural gas, as well as terminalling agreements.

Between 1979 and 1999, Fred was a managing partner at Palmer Biezup & Henderson in Philadelphia. Prior to Palmer Biezup, Fred was an associate (1967-1976) and later a partner (1976-1979) with Rawle & Henderson in Philadelphia.

Selected Representations

  • Lead counsel to the owners and insurers of the Athos I Delaware River oil spill, November 2004, the most expensive spill in the United States since the EXXON VALDEZ
  • Lead trial counsel for United States based shipowner against government of Iran in proceeding at Iran-United States Claims Tribunal – The Hague, Netherlands – resulting in $30,000,000 recovery. At the time, it was the fifth largest recovery of any contested claim at the Tribunal
  • Lead trial counsel in successful ship owner’s defense of $45,000,000 claim for the destruction of a nuclear power plant transmission line crossing the Delaware River; trial saved client $25,000,000
  • Negotiated $7,500,000 recovery from an oil company’s insurers for loss of cargo in a ship fire and a $4,000,000 subrogated recovery from ship owner’s insurers. The timing of the latter recovery also saved the oil company client $1,000,000 in future insurance premiums
  • Lead trial counsel in insurance coverage litigation which went to the Supreme Court of Georgia. The result of the litigation clarified insurer’s defense obligations under a general liability policy in Georgia and saved the client $500,000 in settlement
  • Counsel to ship owner responsible for a spill 120 percent as big as the spill from the EXXON VALDEZ in the first ever Spill of National Significance Exercise held under the National Contingency Plan
  • Assisting a major marine insurer in preparation of its internal disaster response plan
  • Coordinating a nationwide friend of the court briefing project on recurring questions of insurance coverage for environmental liabilities under general liability policies
  • Prevailing counsel in appeal upholding court’s exercise of admiralty jurisdiction involving first ever arrest of negotiable ocean bill of lading for purpose of establishing ownership of bill, and, hence, cargo, as against attempted fraudulent conversion of bill
  • First lawyer based outside of New York to regularly represent clients before Society of Maritime Arbitrators panels
  • Counsel to Underwriters in the September 1990 sinking of the Tank Barge SARAH FRANK, one of the first cases under OPA-90, which became effective August 18, 1990
  • Developed coverage analysis matrix for a marine and energy insurer’s claims department faced with 1,500 onshore pollution, asbestos, and health hazard insurance and reinsurance claims. The matrix provided a prompt, uniform preliminary coverage analysis enabling the insurer to respond in a timely way with its coverage position and highlighted those cases which will pose long term issues for a client
  • Drafted multi line, multiyear excess reinsurance casualty and property policy covering captive direct insurer of a Fortune 500 transportation conglomerate – ship, rail, truck, barge and intermodal

Selected Publications

  • Noted in “3rd Circ. Won’t Revisit Citgo’s $100M Oil Spill Liability,” Law360, May 31, 2018
  • Quoted in “Cargo ship’s months-long stay is about to end,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, November 12, 2014
  • Authored “Place of Refuge – Ongoing Challenge,” Soundings, Summer 2014
  • Noted in “Filipino crewmen stranded on ship ask for ‘humanitarian parole’,” Inquirer.net, August 18, 2014
  • Quoted in “In limbo on the Delaware,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, July 31, 2014
  • Quoted in “Sanity and sanctuary needed on refuge response,” Tanker Shipping & Trade, June 1, 2014
  • Authored “Exxon Valdez Legacy,” Sea Venture (Steamship Mutual Newsletter), December 2012
  • Co-authored “Charterers’ Potential Liability for Oil Pollution in the United States,” The Charterer (The Charterers’ P&I Club Newsletter), October 2012
  • Co-authored “The Deepwater Horizon Sets OPA-90 Precedents,” Currents (The American Club Newsletter), June 2012
  • Authored “Built It, But Will They Come? – Port Development as a Harbinger of Growth in Shipping and the Gamble Ports are Making,” Marine Money, January 2012
  • Quoted in “BP Clean-Up Costs to Soar, Experts Say,” Financial Times, April 19, 2011
  • Quoted in “BP, Drilling Partners Sued by U.S. Government Over Gulf Oil Spill Damage,” Bloomberg, December 16, 2010
  • Co-authored “The Authority of the Arbitrators to Interpret the Rules Under Which the Arbitration is Conducted,” The Arbitrator, April 2010
  • Authored “Nobody Should Be Happy: A Cautionary Tale for Judicial Sales in the United States,” Marine Money International, 2010
  • Additional publications include: “Professionals Are Covered Under CGL Products-Completed Operations Hazard,” Mealey’s Emerging Insurance Disputes (co-authored, 2007); 2007 – Speaker “Marine Money” “Issues for Officers and Directors as Seen Through the Lens of a Maritime Litigator,” “The Real Question of Punitive Damages: When Does Punishment Reach the Level of Deterrence,” The Legal Intelligencer (2005); “Criminal Investigations Cast An Even Darker Shadow,” The Swedish Club (2005); “Prosecution of Maritime Environmental Crimes Versus OPA-90’s Priority for Response and Spill Prevention: A Collision Avoidance Proposal,” 75 Tulane Law Review 1623 (2001); “Liability Wordings for the Wise,” Global Reinsurance (2000) co-author of “Double Double – Oil and Trouble,” the varying definitions of “oil” under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 and International Conventions, Global Risk Manager (1996); “The Absolute Pollution Exclusion that Doesn’t Always Exclude,” Global Risk Manager (1996); “Superfund and the ‘Passive’ Landowner – Where is the Harbor of Refuge?,” Global Risk Manager (1995); “Enforcement of Forum Selection Clauses by the Courts of the United States and the Right to Seize Property Outside the Selected Forum,” Cargo Claims Analysis (1984); “The Water Pollution Control Act – The United States’ Response to Water Pollution Caused by Ships,” Lloyds Maritime and Commercial Law Quarterly (1978); “Discovery and Maritime Arbitration – An Idea Whose Time Has Come,” Lloyds Maritime and Commercial Law Quarterly (1978); and “Products Liability Afloat,” Lloyds Maritime and Commercial Law Quarterly (1976)

Selected Speaking Engagements

  • Speaker, “Place of Refuge: Still A Big Problem,” Connecticut Maritime Association, March 22, 2016
  • Presenter, “Place of Refuge – Unfinished Business,” American Salvage Association/Marine Log, 2015
  • Presenter, “Port of Refuge: A Continuing Problem for the Industry,” Connecticut Maritime Association’s Shipping 2014, March 2014
  • Speaker, International Law Seminar 2013: Recent Developments in Maritime Law: A Multijurisdictional Perspective, September 2013
  • Prior speaking engagements include: Connecticut Maritime Association (2009) and O’Brien’s Oil Pollution Services (2008) Table Top Exercises on the topics of places of refuge for stricken vessels and the lawyer’s role in crisis management and the 20th Annual Marine Money Conference in New York City where he presented “Issues for Officers and Directors as Seen Through the Lens of a Maritime Litigator.” Kuffler was a lecturer for the Seatrade Academy in New York, “The Business of Bunkering;” and a speaker at the International Congress of Maritime Arbitrators, held in Monte Carlo and Madrid

Community Involvement

  • Honorary Danish Consul in Pennsylvania, 1991-2012

Honors & Awards

  • Listed in 2017 Best Lawyers Greater Philadelphia edition for his work in Admiralty and Maritime Law
  • AV pre-eminent® peer review rated by Martindale-HubbellTM and is recognized as a 2013 Top Rated Lawyer in Transportation Law
  • Named as one of “New York Area’s Top Rated Lawyers” in 2012 and 2014 by ALM
  • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America© for his work in Admiralty and Maritime Law
  • As a 2006, 2009, 2010, 2015 Pennsylvania Super Lawyer, he was recognized in the area of Transportation/Maritime Law

Professional Activities & Achievements

  • Mediator for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and is a participant in its seminar on mediation skills and settlement conference advocacy
  • Serves as a judge pro tem in the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court’s Commerce Court system
  • Served as an arbitrator and is a member of the Maritime Law Association (MLA) of the United States
  • MLA member, Kuffler is the former vice chairman of the Standing Committee on Maritime Arbitration
  • Former member of the MLA’s Committees on Continuing Legal Education and Long Range Planning board of directors from 1997 to 2000; from 1997 to 2005 he chaired the Ad Hoc Study Group for Environmental Crimes
  • Member of the American and Philadelphia Bar Association
  • Resident associate member of the Association of Average Adjusters in the United States
  • Member, American Salvage Association

Academic Achievements

Fred graduated from Cornell University (LL.B., 1967) and from Princeton University (A.B., cum laude, 1964).