Mr. Abaunza has more than 40 years of experience in admiralty, energy and commercial law. His practice includes a wide range of trials, contract negotiations, and arbitrations. Mr. Abaunza has been lead trial counsel in cases involving maritime issues, products liability, oil and gas casualty matters, contract disputes, pipeline accidents, construction litigation, and insurance matters.
Mr. Abaunza served as the managing partner and president of Liskow & Lewis from January 1996 through April 2003. He is lead trial counsel in many significant casualty and commercial matters. He was selected as one of the top ten attorneys in Louisiana and has been described as a leader in the profession in Chambers USA, Louisiana Super Lawyers, and The Best Lawyers in America. He was inducted as a fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers in 1994. His trial work includes international matters and he has been listed in Who's Who of the World for more than 20 years. He taught a trial advocacy course at Tulane University Law School for 10 years. In 2009, he was awarded the Distinguished Admiralty Attorney Award from the New Orleans Bar Association, and The Best Lawyers in America selected him as the Distinguished Admiralty Lawyer of the Year for his area.
Mr. Abaunza has drafted contracts involving offshore drilling, vessel construction and environmental matters.
He has significant experience both as an arbitrator and as counsel for parties in arbitration matters. He has served as an arbitrator in disputes involving marine casualties, commercial contract disputes, and vessel construction.
Presently, Mr. Abaunza is defending a company in a case involving an accident in the Philippines which resulted in over 4, 000 deaths. Other notable representative matters include representing defendants in the Piper Alpha disaster in the North Sea and the Ocean Ranger incident in Canada. He handles land contamination cases and recently tried a significant case involving an alleged contamination by oil and gas operations and a case involving offshore damages in a hurricane.
Mr. Abaunza frequently speaks at meetings of oil and gas trade associations, law schools, bar associations, defense counsel groups and corporate managers on energy subjects, litigation issues, arbitration, ethics, and insurance-related matters.
• Indemnity & Insurance Issues in Offshore Service Contracts: Do We Need to Rethink the Approach to Risk Allocation, Institute for Energy Law, 2010
• Force Majeure: The Future Look of Offshore Contracts, Liskow & Lewis Oilfield, Maritime & Indemnity Seminar, 2010
• Opening Statements by the Masters, Louisiana State Bar Association, 2009
•“Crisis or Casualty Response, Investigation & Management”, Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation, 2008
•“Ethics and Professionalism in the Legal, Business, Political, and Judicial Professions, ” GNOBFA River and Marine Industries Seminar, 2008
•“Ethics - Lawyer Advertising: New Rules and New Issues, ” Louisiana State Bar Association, 2007
•“Katrina and Rita: What Have You Wrought, ” LSU, Mineral Law Institute, 2006
•“The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 - Potential Liabilities and Expenses That may be Recovered, ” Liskow & Lewis Environmental Seminar, 2006
•“Crisis Management Panel: There's Been an Accident”, South Texas College of Law, 2005
•“Risk Management in Accommodation Agreements, ” The Center for American and International Law, 2005
•“There's Been an Accident! - Get the Contracts, Find Out What Happened, and Let's Get Ready for Litigation, ” Liskow & Lewis Oilfield Indemnity and Insurance Seminar, 2004
•“Legal Ethics - Update on the 2004 Amendments to the Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct, ” Lorman Seminar, 2004
•“The Unrepresented/Troublesome Party, ” AAA Neutrals, 2004
•“The Ethical Conflicts of Negotiations in Litigation and ADR, ” Tulane Law School, 2003
•“Marine Insurance Handbook, Volume I - Hull and P&I - The Protection and Indemnity and Hull Insurance Policies, ” GNOBFA, 2003
•“Foreign Litigants in U.S. Courts: Forum Non Conveniens and Proof of Foreign Law, ” SEALI, 2001
•“Alien Tort Statute: Subject Matter Jurisdiction and a Cause of Action in United States Courts for Suits by Aliens Alleging Torts in Violation of the Law of Nations [Jurisdiction of U.S. Courts Over Conduct of Corporate America on Foreign Soil], ” Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute, 2001
•“Managing Partners Panel Discussion, ” LADC/TADC Joint Program, Law Office Management Seminar, 2000
•“Enforceability of Forum Selection, Choice of Law, and Arbitration Clauses (Cross-Border Legal Issues Affecting U.S. Flagged Exploration and Production Installations on Canada's East Coast), ” Canadian Petroleum Law Foundation, 2000
•“Masters of the Courtroom, Professionalism and Dealing with Unreasonable Clients, New Orleans Bar Association, 2000
•“Frequently Encountered Ethical Problems, ” NOBA Procrastinators' Program, 1999
•“Remedies Against Foreign Vessels Causing Damage in United States Waters: Arrest and Attachment, ” GNOBFA River Marine Industries Seminar, 1999
•“Privileged Or Not, ” Tulane Inn of Court Ethics/House Counsel, 1999
•“Ethics, ” Panel Discussion, Attorney/Client Seminar of the LADC, 1999
•“Contractual Indemnity and Insurance Issues: The Basics, ” Oil, Gas and Mineral Law Section of Houston Bar, Anti-Indemnity Laws in Texas and Louisiana Oilfield, 1998
•“New Frontiers-Indemnity and Insurance Issues in Deep Water and International Contracts, ” Liskow & Lewis Oilfield Indemnity and Insurance Seminar, 1998
•“Contractual Indemnity and Insurance Issues: The Basics, ” Oil, Gas and Mineral Law Section of Houston Bar, Insurance Issues/Texas-Louisiana Oilfield, 1998
•“Insurance Aspects Before and After 'the Deal' Closes, ” Sonat Inc. Law Camp, 1996
•“Contractual Allocation of Risk, ” Strategic Research Institute, 1996
•“Obtaining Indemnity Protection and Enforcing Insurance Coverage, ” 18th Annual Corporate Counsel Institute, 1996
•“Risk Allocation, ” Business Risk Management Overview, Energy Week, 1996