Conte Cicala focuses his practice on litigating maritime, transportation, commercial and insurance disputes, and on providing corporate and business legal advice to transportation companies.
He has first-chair experience representing his clients at trial, arbitration and before government agencies and boards. He has also counseled companies during merger discussions, government investigations, major contract negotiations, labor disputes, expansion into new modes of carriage and at other key junctures.
Conte sat on the Board of Directors of an international shipping line for almost a decade.
He also served as a US Army Reserve officer for 15 years, much of which was spent with Transportation and JAG units.
For over ten years, Conte has been regularly recognized in legal and trade publications for his work in the transportation and maritime law fields. He was recently selected by Best Lawyers in America as "Lawyer of the Year" for his work in Admiralty and Maritime Law in San Francisco. This distinction is awarded annually to only a single lawyer in a specific practice area and location.
US District Courts for the Northern, Eastern, Central and Southern Districts of California
US District Court for the District of Hawaii
US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
J.D., Tulane University Law School, 1994. Senior Articles Editor of the Tulane Maritime Law Journal and recipient of A.B.A. Award for Excellence in Local Government Law.
B.A., English, Yale University, 1990
Maritime Law Association
Board of Directors and Proctor Member
Pacific Admiralty Seminar
Board of Directors and Past Seminar Chair
Transportation Lawyers Association
Kentfield Schools Foundation
Past Member, Board of Directors (2013-2016)
Advise and represent ocean carriers in connection with Federal Maritime Commission investigations, service contract disputes and anticompetitive conduct by industry participants.
Advise and coordinate leading marine insurers' responses to a series of large-scale casualties and one-off events.
Litigate coverage, bad faith and rescission actions and assist with regulatory investigations relating to coverage determinations.
Coordinate and conduct response and investigation of major casualties, including fatal and serious injury accidents on marine terminals and vessels, heavy weather losses, warehouse fires, damage to cranes, ships and structures, and other catastrophes.
Advise and defend clients in connection with maritime and transportation-related personal injury and death actions.
Defend and prosecute claims for breach of contract and business torts in courts and before arbitration panels across the country and around the world.
Defend and pursue claims for property and cargo damage and loss arising from marine casualties, warehouse fires, refrigeration failures, derailments, motor vehicle accidents, theft, misdelivery and other alleged causes.
Assist plaintiffs, defendants, garnishees and other interested parties in Rule B, C and D maritime arrests and attachments, state law attachment proceedings, interpleader and in connection with receiverships and bankruptcy proceedings.
After a three week federal trial, won a multi-million dollar fraud judgment against several NVOCCs, arising out of a massive scheme involving the declaration of false cargo origins and phantom truck moves carried out for approximately a decade (Mitsui O.S.K Lines, Ltd. v Seamaster, 2013 WL 1191212, RICO Bus.Disp.Guide 12, 366 (N.D. Cal., March 21, 2013) and 913 F.Supp.2d 780 (N.D.Cal. 2012). Argued appeal before Ninth Circuit in May 2017 (unreported opinion).
Represented a leading maritime trade association in pilot rate hearings before the San Francisco Board of Pilot Commissioners, and before various courts and government agencies in matters of significance to the West Coast maritime industry.
Defended and represented before government agencies the Vessel Charterer in the Cosco Busan bridge allision/oil spill matter.
In a reported opinion, obtained transfer to Texas pursuant to a contractual forum selection clause (Three Brothers Trucking v. Exel Global Logistics Inc., 2006 WL 1329883 (N.D. Cal. 2006)).
In a reported opinion, obtained client’s dismissal from state court in North Dakota, based on a Japan forum selection clause in a bill of lading (Barbara Lloyd Designs, Inc. v. Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, 2003 A.M.C. 2608 (N.D. 2003)).
In a reported opinion, obtained dismissal of an indirect air carrier based on a contractual time bar and protected indemnity rights against the air carrier (Seagate Corporation v. Dalian China Express Int’l. Corp., 169 F.Supp.2d 1137 & 1146 (N.D. Cal. 2001).
Representing the State of Yap, its governor and other officials in a dispute involving a failed state-owned fishing corporation, obtained dismissal based on grounds of forum non conveniens (Gemini Capital Group v. Yap Fishing Corporation, 150 F.3d 1088 (9th Cir. 1998)).
Defended a prominent law firm in a malpractice/breach of fiduciary duty action, the successful defense of which hinged on voiding the underlying marine insurance policy under maritime law.
Co-presenter, "Adapting to Evolving Regulation and Enforcement Initiatives for Vessel Operations," 7th Annual Forum on Admiralty and Maritime Claims & Litigation, Houston, Texas, February 2019