Jules V. Massee is a litigator representing clients in the towing, dredging, marine construction and shipping industries as well as yacht builders, ports, shipyards, marinas, foreign and domestic marine insurers, and recreational boaters throughout the state. He has successfully tried both bench and jury trials in state and federal courts in Florida and other jurisdictions. He focuses his trial practice on the areas of admiralty and maritime law including personal injury and wrongful death, commercial litigation, insurance coverage, property and casualty, and transportation.
Mr. Massee’s experience as an officer on a wide variety of commercial vessels gives him a unique insight into marine operations, having served on tugboats, passenger sailboats, cruise ships, and oil tankers. Originally from the New York City area, Mr.Massee graduated in 1996 from the SUNY Maritime College at Ft. Schuyler. During law school, he interned with the Honorable James G. Glazebrook in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida in Orlando.
J.D., Florida A&M University College of Law, Magna Cum Laude; Editor-in-Cheif: FAMU Law Review
B.S., with distinction, Marine & Business Commerce, SUNY Maritime College
- United States District Court for the Southern, Middle, and Northern Districts of Florida
- United States Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit
- Supreme Court of the United States.
Recognition & Memberships
- Super Lawyers, Rising Star
- Top Attorneys in Florida, Transportation & Maritime, American Registry
- Maritime Law Association of the United States
- Southeastern Admiralty Law Institute
- American Bar Association’s Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section
- Propeller Club of the United States, Port of Tampa
- Claims and Litigation Management Alliance (CLM)
- National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms (NAMWOLF)
Subcontractors and DIYers: The Risk and the Benefit, International Boatbuilders Exhibition & Conference, October 4, 2016, Tampa, Florida
Notable Verdicts And Trial Experience
- Defense verdict in a seaman’s personal injury jury trial. Plaintiff with preexisting arthritis claiming he sustained a knee injury while descending an alleged unsafe interior stairway on a tugboat. At trial, Plaintiff moved for the application of a negligence per se standard to be applied to the tug’s alleged OSHA violations. Defense defeated this motion, and prevented Plaintiff’s primary liability expert from testifying on the alleged OSHA violations. At closing, Plaintiff asked for over $600,000 in damages. The jury deliberated for 45 minutes and returned with a verdict for the Defendant.
- Defense verdict in a recreational boat personal injury case. The Plaintiffs, a married couple living on a 60’ anchored sailboat, alleged the defendant’s 56’ motorboat caused a dangerous wake which caused damage to the boat and one of the Plaintiffs to sustain injuries. The plaintiffs further claimed these injuries resulted in a left total knee replacement, and sued for property damage, personal injury, mental anguish, and loss of consortium. The defense presented evidence the 56’ motorboat could not have caused a wave large enough to cause the damages claimed, and that the plaintiff’s sailboat was not properly anchored. The defense further presented evidence that the Plaintiff’s knee replacement was necessitated by degenerative conditions, not acute trauma. The jury deliberated for 10 minutes, and found for the Defense.
- Defense verdict in wrongful death jury trial. Decedent drowned when his jet ski had engine trouble, and he drifted into Defendant’s docked tug and barge. Defense obtained partial summary judgment going into trial, and successfully moved in limine to limit the testimony of Plaintiff’s liability expert.
- Defense verdict in bench trial on marine insurance dispute, where coverage was denied on a Vessel which had repeated water incursion in one of its engines. The Plaintiff appealed to the 2nd DCA, the judgment was affirmed. Because of the Proposal for Settlement served on the Plaintiff before trial, the defense recovered approximately$70,000 in attorneys’ fees.
- Obtained a judgment for Plaintiff against a trespassing houseboat in Admiralty in rem proceeding. After 2 day bench trial, court found for the Plaintiff, awarding damages and ordering the houseboat sold. Houseboat owner appealed, and the case was argued before the 11th Circuit, who affirmed in all respects. This case was later taken up to the Supreme Court of the United States on the sole issue of whether the houseboat was a “vessel” for purposes of admiralty jurisdiction. The Supreme Court reversed, but did not remand, in 7-2 decision, with Justices Kennedy and Sotomayor dissenting.
- Obtained favorable result in seaman’s personal injury bench trial. Seaman fell injuring his leg when transferring from barge to tug. Though seaman was awarded damages, they did not include future economic losses based on the argument that the plaintiff failed to prove such damages. Further, the award was reduced by 50% for the seaman’s comparative fault. Ultimately the award was less than the last settlement offer made before trial.