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ATHOS I

At about nine p.m. on the evening of November 26, 2004, the tanker ATHOS I struck an uncharted obstruction to navigation – a nine-ton abandoned anchor – while approaching a dock in Paulsboro, New Jersey, spilling about 265,000 gallons of heavy crude oil in the Delaware River. This spill has become one of the nation’s most expensive clean-up efforts. By three a.m. the following morning, the vessel’s insurers had appointed Montgomery McCracken to represent the vessel owners and we had dispatched our maritime response team. Montgomery McCracken then marshaled its resources responding to the multi-disciplinary demands of this engagement, which included investigating the factual and forensic circumstances giving rise to the casualty, participating in the government’s casualty investigation and providing the forensic experience for that effort, liaising with numerous government agencies, consulting on public relations issues, negotiating leases for use as staging areas by the clean-up contractors, advising on tax issues arising out of the clean-up, and defending two criminal investigations and natural resource damage claims.  Montgomery McCracken obtained the Coast Guard’s agreement to assume responsibility for funding completion of the clean-up once our client had spent its limit as established under the Oil Pollution Act.  This case represents the first time the government has voluntarily assumed such responsibility in the 15-year history of the Oil Pollution Act. Montgomery McCracken assisted in recovering some $88 million in clean-up costs incurred before the government takeover from the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund and is lead trial counsel in a recovery action for additional losses against a third party.