Kathleen O’Brien

Attorneys

Kathleen O’Brien

Kathleen O’Brien graduated from Roger William University School of Law in 2018, where she focused her studies on admiralty and maritime law. While at RWU, Ms. O’Brien was president of the Maritime Law Society, and received the Maritime Achievement Award and William J. Coffey Excellence in Maritime Writing Award from her school. She also participated in the Judge John R. Brown Admiralty Moot Court Competition, where she received third place for best oral advocate in the competition in 2018. During law school, Ms. O’Brien interned at the United States Department of Justice in the Aviation and Admiralty Litigation Office and worked alongside corporate counsel for a prominent shipping agency in Providence, Rhode Island throughout her 3L year.

Prior to joining Freehill Hogan & Mahar in 2019, Ms. O’Brien was a law clerk to the Honorable Dennis R. O’Brien, J.S.C., in the Superior Court of New Jersey from 2018-2019. She has been racing sailboats competitively since she was young, and regularly draws from her experience on and off the water. Ms. O’Brien is active in all phases of the firm’s practice.

Ryan J. Byrnes

Ryan Byrnes is a 2012 graduate of the Seton Hall University School of Law, where he was a Presidential Scholar and was published in the field of copyright law. While in law school, Mr. Byrnes served as a clerk for the Hon. Ned Rosenberg in the Superior Court of New Jersey and later at a boutique commercial litigation firm. Prior to joining Freehill Hogan & Mahar, Mr. Byrnes practiced for more than five years at a large Manhattan firm, where his practice included defense of toxic tort, occupational disease, NY Labor Law and construction litigation cases, including extensive practice within New York City Asbestos Litigation (NYCAL).

Mr. Byrnes joined Freehill Hogan & Mahar in 2018. He is involved in various areas of the firm’s practice and at all stages of litigation from pleadings through trial. His personal injury practice includes the defense of trucking and motor carriers, premises liability, Labor Law, Jones Act maritime, and asbestos and other occupational disease cases. He regularly attends ship inspections and on-board investigations in connection with Jones Act personal injury and other maritime-related matters. He assists in the representation of a national restaurant chain as to all general liability claims. He is also active in matters involving insurance coverage, the Defense Base Act, and the War Hazards Compensation Act.

Hilary K. Jonczak

Ms. Jonczak is an accomplished trial lawyer in both federal and state courts. She joined Freehill, Hogan & Mahar in 2017, where her practice currently focuses on federal administrative matters, including claims arising under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act and the Defense Base Act.

Prior to joining the Firm, Ms. Jonczak worked for several years as an in-house litigator for a large international insurance company as well as in private practice. She has significant experience in a number of practice areas, including maritime litigation, insurance coverage, general commercial litigation, international arbitration, and professional malpractice. In addition, she has notable appellate experience and has prevailed on several appeals before the Benefits Review Board, United States Department of Labor. While in private practice, Ms. Jonczak lived in London for approximately three months, where she completed secondments with various Lloyd’s of London syndicates.

Ms. Jonczak graduated Magna Cum Laude with Honors from The Florida State University in 2005 with a B.S. in History and Political Science. She earned her law degree from The University of Florida in 2008, where she was a competing member of the nationally-ranked UF Trial Team. On a personal level, Hilary enjoys traveling, nature, photography, and scuba diving.

Matthew J. Pallay

Matthew Pallay graduated from Ohio Northern University Claude W. Pettit College of Law with a Certificate of Specialization in Criminal Law before attending Tulane University Law School, where he earned his LLM in Admiralty With Distinction.

Matthew was a third generation longshoreman, prior to joining Freehill Hogan & Mahar, in New York harbor for nearly 10 years. As a longshoreman, he primarily handled various bulk and breakbulk cargo operations, as well as heavy lifts. Additionally, he handled vessel mooring, stowage, and discharge operations.

Matthew has been involved in all phases of the firm’s practice since he joined the firm in November 2015. He is primarily involved in the firm’s personal injury practice, including federal workers’ compensation, Jones Act, and third-party litigation defense. Matthew routinely appears in the New Jersey and New York state and federal courts, as well before the Department of Labor Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs and Office of Administrative Law Judges. Matthew regularly handles all aspects of litigation from initial evaluation and investigation to taking and defending the depositions of fact and expert witnesses, engaging in motion practice, and appearing for oral arguments.

Matthew frequently conducts and participates in vessel and terminal inspections, both domestically and abroad. His experience includes investigating personal injury matters, stowaways, drug smuggling, oil spills, engine room fires, vessel breakaways, collisions, allisions, and other marine casualties.

Peter J. Gutowski

Mr. Gutowski graduated with a BA from Columbia University in New York in 1978.  He earned his law degree from Tulane University in New Orleans, where he graduated cum laude with a concentration in international transportation law. Immediately after graduation in 1981, he joined Freehill Hogan & Mahar as an associate, became a partner in 1987 and has remained with the firm throughout his career.

Mr. Gutowski’s practice focuses on both international and domestic transportation related matters, many of which involve complex legal and factual issues.  He has been described by Chambers as an “aggressive, clear-minded and decisive” attorney, capable of navigating the “tough cases.”  Routinely ranked among the highest tier of attorneys in Best Lawyers, Who’s Who Legal and Chambers, he has been credited as “dedicated and extremely hard working” (Best Lawyers 2012), a “damn fine and deeply knowledgeable lawyer who stays in control and tries a lot of cases”, and an individual who can cut through “all the mist and target what’s needed.” Recently, one of his peers commented that: “I would hire him for my personal affairs – that is the best recommendation I could give.”  Chambers Global 2014.

With more than thirty years of litigation and arbitral experience, Mr. Gutowski has served as lead counsel in a variety of high profile transportation related casualty and contract disputes from situations around the globe.  Of late, he recovered in excess of $34 million for a foreign client in an arbitration involving the breach of a long term COA for the supply of asphalt, successfully defended a vessel charterer in a total loss claim lodged by the owner for damages in excess of $30 million involving the sinking of a container vessel, and participated in the successful prosecution of a US-based product manufacturer in a multi-million dollar fire case.  His practice includes a concentration on commodities related matters and sale and purchase agreements.  Recent cases include the successful prosecution of claims for a multi-million dollar breach by the buyer of LPG under a long term sales agreement and the recovery of a multi-million dollar award for breach of a vessel sale agreement against a major US agribusiness entity. He also regularly counsels clients in ongoing disputes involving all aspects of transportation and international sales agreements, and assists with the drafting of sales and other commercial agreements including asset purchase agreements and service contracts.  He practices in both state and federal court, as well as in arbitration before the New York SMA and AAA’s international division, the ICDR.  Mr. Gutowski has particular expertise with provisional remedies (such as the arrest and attachment mechanisms) in both domestic and international arenas and has handled a myriad of veil piercing cases and matters touching on international jurisdictional disputes.

Mr. Gutowski has also served as a commercial arbitrator, has presented papers/made presentations on corporate veil piercing issues, security proceedings and fraud claims, and recently co-authored the US section of the Shipping International Trade Law text published by Sweet & Maxwell, a division of Thomson Reuters. Recently described by Chambers as an “excellent lawyer who is good on his feet, articulate and skillful” and a “smart practitioner who “really looks out for his clients’ interest”, Mr. Gutowski brings to his cases a balanced approach grounded on many years of practical, commercial experience and legal acumen, “properly aggressive” when necessary, but always with the clients’ ultimate best interest in mind.

On a personal level, Pete enjoys skiing, sailing and all types of outdoor activities.  He regularly participates in triathlons and obstacle course races, including Ironman, Spartan and Tough Mudder competitions.  He brings to his cases the same level of enthusiasm and energy he devotes to his extracurricular activities.

William H. Yost

Mr. Yost earned his law degree from Roger Williams University School of Law in 2013, where he graduated magna cum laude.  During law school, Mr. Yost was the Executive Notes and Comments Editor for the Law Review, a member of the school’s 2013 Judge John R. Brown Appellate Moot Court Competition team, which received the Best Respondent’s Brief Award, and was also a recipient of the school’s first annual William J. Coffey Excellence in Maritime Writing Award.  Mr. Yost began his career at Freehill Hogan & Mahar as a summer associate in 2012 and returned as an associate the following year.

 

Mr. Yost has a broad practice which includes maritime and land-based personal injury litigation, including the defense of premises liability and New York Labor Law claims, as well as the defense of cargo loss and damage claims, marine pollution claims, charter party and bill of lading disputes, and Customs and Border Protection fine mitigation.  Mr. Yost has handled the defense of numerous claims brought under the Longshore Harbor Workers Compensation Act and the Defense Base Act, and has also defended shipowners in Jones Act, § 905(b), and other personal injury cases.  He also frequently defends restaurants, property, and business owners in negligence, premises, and general liability cases in both New York and New Jersey.

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.

William J. Pallas

Mr. Pallas graduated from Georgetown University in 1991 with a bachelor’s degree in political science. He received his law degree from Tulane Law School in 1994, cum laude, with a Certificate of Maritime Law, where he served as Managing Editor of the Tulane Maritime Law Journal. Having previously worked with the firm as a summer associate, he joined the firm in 1994 as an associate and became a Partner in 2003. Mr. Pallas’ practice concentrates on intermodal cargo loss and damage cases. He also has extensive experience with marine casualties, civil and criminal environmental defense, charter party disputes, commercial litigation, personal injury matters and ship finance. Mr. Pallas has been selected by his peers for inclusion in the The Best Lawyers in America Guide in the field of maritime law from 2017 through 2020 and has been highlighted in The Legal 500 – USA for 2017, 2018, and 2019.

John F. Karpousis

John F. Karpousis has been practicing law for over two decades, joining Freehill Hogan & Mahar in 1996, where he has been a Partner since January 2002 and currently heads the firm’s Workers’ Compensation defense practice. He graduated with a B.A. from Rutgers University in 1990, and received his Juris Doctorate from Fordham University School of Law in 1993.

John has considerable trial experience, having tried both jury and non-jury cases and argued appeals in both federal and state courts of New York and New Jersey. He has tried over 40 cases before the United States Department of Labor, Office of Administrative Law Judges and Benefits Review Board. John is a published author and frequent lecturer on matters involving the Longshore Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, and has taught several Continuing Legal Education seminars on Longshore Act matters to other attorneys. In addition to his LHWCA and Defense Base Act workers compensation practice, John works extensively in the area of maritime personal injury law, including the defense of 905(b) LHWCA claims, Jones Act claims, marine construction litigation, passenger vessel and other maritime/terminal liability, trucking and transportation related personal injury cases. He also handles other marine litigation including marine insurance coverage disputes and hull and machinery claims. In 2014, Best Lawyers in America, which has named him to their Best Lawyers list, reported that a client described John as exhibiting “a fierce passion,” “a very charismatic litigator with a keen sense of what the judge and jury want to hear” and “one of the firm’s most talented attorneys.” The Legal 500 named John as a recommended attorney for 2018 and 2019. Best Lawyers in America ranked him in 2018-2020 in the admiralty and maritime field.

Languages:

Greek

William L. Juska, Jr.

With over 45 years experience Mr. Juska brings a broad perspective to the practice of law, informed by the handling of hundreds of cases. Chambers USA 2014 reported: “Sources say he is ‘very strong on all aspects and has a wealth of experience to draw on.’

He is noted for his expertise in cargo damage cases, charter party disputes and commodities sales contracts. Chambers Global 2013 stated that he is “highly regarded” in these areas of practice. Chambers Global 2007 described Mr. Juska as a “globally renowned practitioner” while in 2008 the same source wrote, “He impresses interviewees [clients] with his counsel on cargo defense cases and charter party disputes. His ability to read circumstances is such that ‘you can introduce him to anyone under the sun and he will respond effectively.’

Mr. Juska has long advised clients on U.S. trade regulations. Since 2010 he has played a leading role in counseling a broad range of clients on compliance with the U.S. sanctions against Iran as well as on the U.S. sanctions relating to the Ukraine, Syria, Sudan, Myanmar, and Cuba. Chambers 2016 described him as having “a wealth of experience and practical knowledge on sanctions.”

In addition to these primary areas of practice, Mr. Juska has considerable experience in oil pollution, marine contracts, commercial litigation and provisional remedies, such as arrest and attachment. He represents a wide variety of clients, such as P&I Clubs, shipowners, charterers and commodities traders in commercial disputes, whether requiring litigation or arbitration. He has arbitrated cases before the Society of Maritime Arbitrators, the American Arbitration Association and the International Centre for Dispute Resolution.

Mr. Juska is annually ranked as a Leader in the Field by Chambers USA. Chambers USA quotes sources declaring him as “tremendously smart”, a “gentleman and astute litigator” as well as “one of the most competent attorneys in the New York area.” Chambers USA 2018 quotes an interviewee calling him a “smart and efficient lawyer who sees things clearly” and who gives “top-rate advice.” He is similarly annually ranked by New York Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers in America, to whom one client stated in 2012, “If Bill does not know the answer, I am not sure who would.”