Chip Birthisel is a founding partner in our Tampa office. He practices transportation and maritime law, personal injury and wrongful death defense, marine pollution, general liability defense, and insurance law. His practice includes international and domestic litigation and transactions. He is a former federal government contracting officer and a retired Coast Guard officer, who spent his final years on active duty as a law specialist and trial attorney assigned to the U.S. Department of Justice, Aviation and Admiralty Litigation Section.
Chip represents a wide range of transportation, maritime, and general litigation clients, providing a myriad of services including litigation of maritime and landbased wrongful death and personal injury, maritime lien, bunker, P & I, cargo, and hull and machinery claims. He represents many of the world’s largest insurers and has provided coverage opinions and defense, and litigated declaratory judgment actions on behalf of numerous insurers. He also handles contractual matters (charters, bills of lading, sales, brokerage and finance agreements, concession agreements, franchise and license agreements, vehicle lease and purchase agreements, owner/operator agreements), from drafting to litigation.
His practice includes rendering advice on all marine regulatory matters, including coverage placement, flagging of vessels, classification society compliance, and U.S., flag state, and international (i.e. SOLAS, IMO, and Law of the Sea Conventions) regulatory compliance. In addition, he has provided counsel regarding the establishment of a variety of maritime businesses including cruiseline operations, cargo lines, Ocean Transportation Intermediary licensing and compliance (VOCC, NVOCC, and Freight Forwarders), and marine and land based terminal operations. He renders advice daily on compliance with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, Coast Guard, Immigration, Federal Maritime Commission, National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, and other international and domestic regulatory schemes.
Chip has represented and represents a variety of foreign entities and clients in international business transactions and litigation including clients in Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Panama, the Marshall Islands, England, Norway, Venezuela, Ireland, Korea, Costa Rica, Brazil, Honduras, the Philippines, most every island nation in the Caribbean, and Canada.
PRACTICE AREAS Maritime and Transportation Law Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Defense General Liability Defense Insurance Law and Coverage Marine Pollution Cargo Commercial Litigation International Law Property and Casualty Class Actions Complex Business Disputes
RECOGNITION AV® Rated by Martindale Hubbell for the highest level of professional excellence Recognized as a Florida Super Lawyer by Law & Politics
EDUCATION J.D., cum laude, University of Miami School of Law M.S., Education, The Johns Hopkins University B.S., University of San Francisco
BAR AND COURT ADMISSIONS Florida, 1991 Virginia, 2001 U.S. District Court for the Northern, Southern, and Middle Districts of Florida U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Armed Forces United States Court of International Trade U.S. Supreme Court
MEMBERSHIPS Maritime Law Association, Proctor Member Propeller Club of the United States The Southeastern Admiralty Law Institute Claims and Litigation Management Alliance (CLM) American Institute of Marine Underwriters Tampa Bay Mariners Club Fort Lauderdale Mariners Club Southeastern Admiralty Law Institute Hillsborough County Bar Association
NOTABLE PUBLISHED OPINIONS City of Riviera Beach v. That Certain Unnamed Gray, Two Story Vessel Approximately Fifty-Seven Feet In Length, 649 F.3d 1259 (11th Cir. 2011) Dann Marine Towing, L.C. v. McLean Contracting Co., 2010 WL 1486008 (E.D. Va. 2010) Axis Reinsurance Co. v. Henley, 2009 WL 3416248 (N.D. Fla. 2009) Axis Reinsurance Co. v. Resmondo, 2009 WL 1537903 (M.D. Fla. 2009) Lewis v. JPI Corp., 2009 WL 3761984 (S.D. Fla. 2009) Stromquist v. Ace American Ins. Co., 2011 WL 294421 (Fla. 2d DCA 2011)