Robert “Bobby” O’Connor is Montgomery McCracken’s New York Office Co-Managing Partner. He is a member of the Firm’s Litigation Department and co-chair of the Maritime and Transportation Industry Group. He represents commercial and individual clients in all aspects of civil litigation, including trials and appeals, in federal and state courts as well as in agency proceedings and private arbitration.
Bobby’s primary practice is counseling international and domestic maritime industry clients like owners, operators, and charterers of vessels and their insurers. He has defended high-profile claims of cargo loss and damage arising from major marine casualties such as explosions, fires, collisions, allisions, groundings, and heavy weather incidents pursuant to the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act and the Shipowners’ Limitation of Liability Act. He has handled numerous environmental matters relating to oil pollution, coral damage, and emissions violations under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, and MARPOL. He was also lead maritime counsel to one of the world’s largest marine fuel traders in its bankruptcy proceedings and related litigation during which he appeared in federal courts throughout the United States, several foreign courts and arbitration tribunals, and the United States Supreme Court.
Bobby has additional maritime experience conducting onboard investigations of personal injury and cargo damage claims, arbitrating charter party and bunker disputes, attaching and arresting vessels and other property as security, drafting documents for the sale and purchase of vessels, and advising shippers and carriers about customs regulations. He provides pro bono legal assistance to mariners during suspension and revocation proceedings before the United States Coast Guard. He was pro bono general counsel to the American Caribbean Maritime Foundation.
As a general commercial litigator and advisor, Bobby has handled a variety of contract and license disputes, enforced arbitration awards and foreign judgments, represented creditors in bankruptcy proceedings, defended complex civil RICO claims, acted as local counsel in New York federal courts, taken discovery in the US in aid of foreign proceedings under 28 U.S.C. § 1782, given expert opinions on US and New York law in support of foreign litigation, and counseled businesses on many general matters such as the formation of corporations and partnerships, negotiation of agreements, and drafting of standard terms and conditions.
Before joining Montgomery McCracken, Bobby was an attorney with Chalos O’Connor LLP. Previously, he was a research associate with an environmental economics consulting firm where he conducted natural resource damage assessments.
Bobby earned his J.D. degree from St. John's University School of Law, where he served as president of the Joseph A. Calamari Admiralty Law Society, editor-in-chief of The Admiralty Practicum, and vice president of the Student Bar Association. He earned his B.A. degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Bankruptcy and Financial Restructuring
Maritime and Transportation
- Represented ship owners, operators, and charterers in litigation arising from explosions, fires, collisions, allisions, and heavy weather incidents pursuant to the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act and the Shipowners’ Limitation of Liability Act.
- Represented OPA 90 Responsible Parties during emergency responses to oil spills and threats of oil spills, throughout natural resource damage assessments, when presenting claims for reimbursement to the National Pollution Funds Center and the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, and when defending claims brought by third parties and natural resource damage trustees.
- Represented the owner and operator of a fleet of ships in connection with a broad U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Coast Guard subpoena and investigation concerning the fleet’s compliance with APPS and MARPOL emissions regulations.
- Represented one of the world’s largest marine fuel suppliers in its bankruptcy proceedings and related litigation.
- Represented ship owners and charterers in arbitration, and enforced arbitration awards and foreign judgments
- Conducted onboard investigations concerning allegations of personal injuries and cargo damage
- Panelist, “Marine Casualty Response Strategies,” International Maritime Law Seminar, October 2022
- Panelist, “Trends and Developments in Admiralty and Maritime Claims and Litigation: Hot Buttons to Know and Consider,” The Knowledge Group, November 2020
- Panelist, “Legal, Compliance and Regulations Panel,” International Bunker Industry Association, November 2020
- Moderator, “Issues and Solutions Arising from IMO 2020 ULSFO Requirements,” International Maritime Law Seminar, October 2019, London, England
- Presenter, “A New Legal Landscape,”IBIA Caribbean Bunker Conference, September 2019, Montego Bay, Jamaica
- Presenter, “Bunkers in the US: Compliance with Emissions Regulations and Enforcement of Maritime Liens,” International Maritime Law Seminar, October 2018, London, England
- Presenter, “OPA 90 – Liability & Claims,” Gallagher Marine Systems – 2017 Maritime Symposiums, November 2017, Athens, Greece and London, England
- Presenter, “MARPOL & The Department of Justice – Environmental Compliance Programs,” Gallagher Marine Systems – 2017 Maritime Symposium, July 2017, New Jersey, USA
- Presenter, “Athos I – Recovery of Response Costs and Damages,” Gallagher Marine Systems – 2016 Maritime Symposium, November 14, 2016, London, England
- Keynote Speaker, “Maritime Bankruptcies,” St. John’s Admiralty Law Society – Annual Dinner, April 2016
- Author, “Establishing Personal Jurisdiction in US Court Over Foreign Defendants,” August 2022
- Mentioned in, “Rising Star: Montgomery McCracken’s Robert E. O’Connor,” Law360, June 2022
- Quoted in, “Three closed OW Bunker companies pay creditors major sum,” ShippingWatch, May 2022
- Quoted in, “OW Bunker USA Bankruptcy Case Closes,” Ship & Bunker, May 2022
- Author, “‘Tis the Season for Bad Weather and Cargo Damage,” December 2020
- Author, “US Legal Landscape Still Feeling Effects of OW Bunker Bankruptcy,” Ship & Bunker, September 2020
- Co-author, “Maritime Bankruptcies in the US during the Coronavirus Pandemic: An Introduction for Creditors,” May 2020
- Co-author, “UPDATED – New York Real Estate during the COVID-19 Pandemic,” May 2020
- Author, “Vessel and Port Operations in the US and the Port of New York and New Jersey during the Coronavirus Pandemic,” May 2020
- Author, “Maritime Litigation and Arbitration in the US and New York during the Coronavirus Pandemic,” April 2020
- Author, “M/V GOLDEN RAY: Deviating from an OPA 90 Non-Tank Vessel Response Plan,” March 2020
- Co-author, “UPDATED – COVID-19 in New York: Essential Business, Law Firms, and State and Federal Courts,” April 2020
- Quoted in, “Force Majeure and Bunker Supply Contracts: It’s Complicated,” Ship & Bunker, April 2020
- Noted in, “NuStar Accused Of Selling Substandard Marine Fuel,” Law360, March 2019
- Noted in, “Law and order: Avoiding disputes,” Lloyd’s List, November 2018
- Noted in, “OW Bunker Tells 2nd Circ. Subcontractors Can’t Claim Fuel,” Law360, October 2017
- Noted in, “Norwegian Must Arbitrate Fuel Row, Supplier Says,” Law360, September 2017
- Noted in, “US Judge Seeks Input On English Ruling In Similar Fuel Row,” Law360, September 2017
- Noted in, “Norwegian Cruise Lines Can’t Block Arbitration, Court Told,” Law360, August 2017
- Co-author, “Recent Developments in Admiralty and Maritime Law,” American Bar Association’s Tort Trial & Insurance Law Journal, Winter 2017
- Quoted in, “’Growing Consensus’ Over Who Should Be Paid Disputed OW Bunker Bills,” Ship & Bunker, January 2017
- Noted in, “OW Bunker Holds Maritime Liens In Payment Row, Judge Says,” Law360, January 2017
- Co-author, “The International Collapse of OW Bunker,” DRI’s For The Defense, April 2016
- Quoted in, “OW’s US arms pursue $45m in unpaid bills,” Tradewinds News, December 2015
- Quoted in, “O.W. Bunker USA can complete liquidation,” The Deal, December 2015O.W. Bunker USA can complete liquidation
- Quoted in, “OW’S US Arms in Talks to Forge ‘Consensual’ Bankruptcy Plan,” Tradewinds News, May 2015
- Quoted in, “Shippers pay into US court to prevent ship detention after OW Bunker collapse,” Reuters, January 2015
- Quoted in, “Lawyer: Shipowners keep paper trail for ECA-compliant fuels,” Bunkerworld News, December 2014
- Co-author, “A Modern Twist On A Charter Party Contract,” Mealey’s International Arbitration Report, September 2014
- Co-author, “Stepped Up Enforcement in the North American ECA: August 2014 Update,” Legal Briefing, August 2014
- Author, “Sulphur Oxide Emissions Regulations – USA,” UK P&I Club Bulletin 954, March 2014
- Law360’s Rising Star: Transportation (2022)
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- P&IQ Certification (Correspondent)
- Bobby has successfully completed Module 1 (The Shipping Business); Module 2 (P&I Insurance: History, Operation and Practice); Module 3 (Underwriting, Loss Prevention and Claims Handling); Module 4 (People Risks); Module 5 (Cargo Risks); and Module 6 (Collision, FFO and Pollution Risks) with distinction.
- Maritime Law Association of the United States
- Marine Pollution and Maritime Crimes Committee
- American Bar Association
- New York State Bar Association
- Connecticut Maritime Association
- North American Marine Environmental Protection Association
- St. John’s University School of Law
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Establishing Personal Jurisdiction in US Court Over Foreign Defendants
US federal courts, with sophisticated judiciaries and well-developed bodies of law, are very attractive forums for resolving international disputes. Yet, the question of when US federal courts may exercise personal […]
Rising Star: Montgomery McCracken’s Robert E. O’Connor
Robert O’Connor of Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads LLP has become one of the go-to maritime lawyers in the U.S., recently representing shipping giants Maersk and Ocean Network Express in […]
Robert E. O’Connor Named a 2022 Law360 Rising Star
Montgomery McCracken is pleased to announce that Robert E. O’Connor has been named a 2022 Rising Star by Law360. The annual list highlights exceptional lawyers under 40 “whose legal accomplishments […]
Three closed OW Bunker companies pay creditors major sum
Lawyers have finished cleaning up three bankrupt OW Bunker subsidiaries in the US, and so the US Bankruptcy Court in Connecticut has decided to close the case and allow a […]