Michael Fernandez graduated from the United States Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, New York in 1981 and thereafter sailed as a deck officer on a various types of commercial vessels including tankers, containerships and others. He holds an unlimited Master’s license issued by the United States Coast Guard. Mr. Fernandez received a J.D. from Rutgers Law School and joined Freehill Hogan & Mahar in 1990, where he has been a partner for over 15 years.
Mr. Fernandez’ practice has a particular emphasis on litigation and arbitration involving: marine casualties (collisions, fires, groundings and sinkings), cargo and contamination claims, shipboard investigations of all nature (cargo, hull and personal injury), intermodal claims, hazardous materials, marine pollution, charter party and bill of lading disputes, investigations and proceedings by state and federal agencies such as the USCG, NTSB, DOJ and OSHA. He also advises clients as to contractual matters including: terminal/stevedoring agreements, slot charters, vessel sharing agreements, service contracts, contracts of carriage and insurance coverage.
His sea-going background and experience provide Mr. Fernandez with unique insight and expertise while conducting shipboard investigations, reviewing vessel records, interfacing with crewmembers and interacting with state and federal agencies.
Mr. Fernandez is also a member of the Maritime Criminal Defense Group at the firm and routinely defends both corporations and individuals in matters involving the alleged by-passing of oily water separators and other MARPOL related violations, pollution and civil/ criminal enforcement actions. He has dealt with such cases in numerous jurisdictions, including, for example, New York, Massachusetts, Florida, Maryland, California, Georgia and North Carolina.
Mr. Fernandez routinely conducts internal investigations and lectures clients on best practices for claims handling, enhanced MARPOL compliance, training of crews and the role of counsel during investigations both in the USA and abroad. He has been selected as a leading lawyer in publications such as Chambers Global, Chambers USA, The Legal 500 and The Best Lawyers in America.
Mr. Fernandez has been selected by Best Lawyers in America from 2013 through 2020 and was listed in 2008 and 2017 by The Legal 500 USA. He has been named a New York Super Lawyer from 2013 to 2017, and is listed among the world’s leading transport lawyers in Who’s Who Legal: Transport 2016 through 2017. Chambers 2018 designated him as a “notable practitioner.” In 2019, Mr. Fernandez was confirmed as an expert in maritime law by Euromoney’s International Trade & Shipping Guide.