James L. Ross


James L. Ross

As a partner with the firm, Mr. Ross has extensive experience in handling litigations before the State and Federal Courts in New York and New Jersey, as well as mediations and arbitrations. He has represented clients, including vessel Owners and Charterers, in litigations, mediations and arbitrations relating to:

  • Commercial contract disputes
  • Charter Party disputes
  • Fire and explosion casualties
  • Loss of containers overboard
  • Dry and liquid cargo damage/contamination claims
  • Dock damage claims
  • Collisions /Allisions
  • Off-Spec bunker disputes
  • Maritime liens
  • General Average
  • Hull and P&I insurance matters

Mr. Ross has received the highest AV preeminent rating from Martindale-Hubbell and has been annually rated as a leading maritime attorney by publications such as New York Super Lawyers and The Best Lawyers in America Guide.

Michael Fernandez

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.

Eric E. Lenck

Mr. Lenck has over 35 years of experience in maritime law as a partner at Freehill Hogan & Mahar. He has litigated marine insurance, cargo and charter party disputes of all kinds, including trials and arbitrations in New York. His current practice focuses heavily on ship sale and finance, ship construction, yachts and the drafting and analysis of all types of maritime contracts.

Mr. Lenck has been the lead attorney on the Firm’s many vessel sale and financing transactions, including all manner of cargo vessels, yachts, research ships, and passenger vessels. These transactions have involved the U.S. flag registry and all the major foreign maritime flags. He has broad experience in working on loans from private banks and government entities in asset based maritime financings. His extensive knowledge of contract terms and lenders’ requirements helps to ensure that borrowers are adequately protected and that the lenders’ requirements are met in a timely and efficient way. Mr. Lenck has lectured on Ship Sale and Purchase as a visiting professor at World Maritime University in Malmö, Sweden.

Mr. Lenck draws on his years of litigation experience when providing advice on maritime contracts. He has drafted bills of lading and charter parties for major carriers, and has advised on ship construction and repair contracts, COA’s, service contracts, marine terminal agreements, asset purchase agreements, yachting agreements, dockage agreements and all manner of corporate documentation.

Mr. Lenck has authored numerous articles on maritime law and has been a speaker at many maritime conferences and seminars in the U.S. and abroad. He has taught courses on maritime law subjects at the John Gray Institute of Lamar University and at World Maritime University in Sweden. He is the author of LAW OF RECREATIONAL BOATING, published by Cornell Maritime Press in 2019. (order through Maritime Press, a Division of Schiffer Publishing, Ltd., Amazon Books,Barnes and Noble)


Pro-Bono Activities:
South Street Seaport Museum

Eric J. Matheson

Eric Matheson brings a diverse maritime background to Freehill Hogan & Mahar. Mr. Matheson is a graduate of the United States Merchant Marine Academy, where he received a Bachelors of Science in Marine Operations and Technology, a marine transportation program enhanced with marine engineering studies. He served in the U.S. Navy on a guided missile frigate as both a deck and engineering officer. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard Unlimited Third Mate’s License.

Following his service in the U.S. Navy, Mr. Matheson obtained his law degree from Villanova University School of Law, where he was Editor-in-Chief of the Villanova Environmental Law Journal.

Mr. Matheson works on a variety of matters, using his legal skills as well as his technical background in Marine Operations and Technology and his experience at sea on a variety of vessels. He has worked with Vessel Data Recorders (VDR) and other recording systems in accident reconstruction involving collision, grounding, sinking, and other vessel casualties. He has worked on cases involving modern vessel incinerators and oily water separators (OWS) which involve computerized data and the tracking of use and function of ship’s equipment. He is active in both litigation and arbitration involving ship sale, vessel collision, electrical fires, power outages, sinkings, loss of cargo, safe port/safe berth warranties, and the mechanical failure of intermodal equipment, including cranes, tractors, brake systems, and refrigeration systems. He also has experience in cases involving sensitive chemical cargo contamination claims.  Mr. Matheson has been named a Rising Star in the field of maritime law from 2015 through 2019 by New York Super Lawyers, and in 2018 was listed as a recommended attorney by The Legal 500. In 2019, The Legal 500 named him as a “Next Generation Partner.”

Don P. Murnane, Jr.

Mr. Murnane has more than 35 years’ experience handling a wide variety of domestic and international contract and tort maritime litigations and arbitrations. He was recently selected by his peers as the 2022 “Best Lawyers -Admiralty Lawyer of the Year” for New York. In 2019 The Euromoney Best of the Best Global Expert Guide ranked Mr. Murnane in the top thirty maritime and shipping lawyers worldwide. He is rated “AV Preeminent” by Martindale-Hubble and has been annually recognized for many years as a leading maritime attorney by The Best Lawyers in America Guide; Expert Guide Best of the Best USA; Chambers USA; New York Super Lawyers Magazine and The International Who’s Who of Shipping and Maritime Lawyers.

Mr. Murnane graduated with highest honors from the United States Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point in 1982 where he ranked second in his graduating class. He earned his law degree at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington D.C. where he was on the Dean’s List and began practicing maritime law in 1986 (first with former Haight, Gardner Poor & Havens LLP in New York, and then joining FHM as a partner in 1997). Chambers USA named him “an expert litigator” described by his clients as “simply a great advocate”; “a practical attorney …sensitive to the client’s needs”; “really excellent: he does not waste time on tangential disputes and gets right to the heart of things”; a “fierce litigator” with a “calm, deliberative and bright” litigation style. A client told Best Lawyers: “Don Murnane is more than a safe pair of hands. You know you will get the best result for the deck of cards which you may have been dealt.”

Mr. Murnane has acted as lead counsel on disputes involving vessel and marine terminal casualties, international commercial fraud, time and voyage charters, terminal agreements and liner service contracts. His practice frequently involves issues of international conflicts of law including jurisdiction and forum disputes. Mr. Murnane is a leading expert on the investigation and litigation of sophisticated chemical product tanker disputes. He has represented one of the world’s largest chemical tanker owner-operators for more than 30 years. He also possesses expertise with perishable goods litigation and U.S. government contract disputes. For the last several years he has represented a major U.S. flag container vessel operator providing wartime intermodal transportation of U.S. military goods to and from Afghanistan and Iraq.
Mr. Murnane has testified in foreign litigation as a trial expert on U.S. maritime law and has served as an arbitrator including as tribunal chairman. He is the immediate past Chair of the U.S. Maritime Law Association’s Liaison Committee to the Society of Maritime Arbitrators, Inc., New York and currently the US Maritime Law Association Co-opted Delegate to BIMCO’s Documentary Committee. He has authored articles and lectured publicly and for clients in the U.S. and abroad on a range of maritime law, litigation and arbitration topics. Prior to becoming a lawyer, Mr. Murnane worked for a shipping company and sailed as a deck officer aboard various types of oceangoing ships and inland marine vessels in both foreign and domestic trade.

When not practicing law, Don enjoys training bird dogs and is an avid outdoorsman.