Working Together To Keep You Afloat

Michael X. Savasuk

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Practice Areas

  • Maritime/Admiralty

Biography

Michael first got involved with the maritime industry when he attended and graduated from Maine Maritime Academy ("MMA") in 1974 with a B.S. in Nautical Science. Thereafter, he sailed as a third and second mate on ocean going oil tankers for two major oil/energy companies for six years.

While still working at sea, and at the urging of MMA's Academic Dean, Michael attended law school and graduated from the University of New Hampshire ("UNH") School of Law in 1979. He was immediately employed by a major admiralty law firm, Hill, Betts & Nash in New York City. It was at Hill, Betts & Nash, where the partners utilized Michael's expertise in ship handling and operations to venture forward into the legal defense of major casualties (i.e., grounding, collisions, dock damage, cargo damage, charter party disputes, representing ship owners, operators, charterers, and their insurers). With directions from senior partners, Michael worked on the AMACO CADIZ oil spill when Hill, Betts & Nash represented the Country of France. Also, while living and working in New York City, Michael eventually led legal investigations/defense focusing on developing key facts that would eventually provide effective defenses or prosecution throughout the maritime litigations.

After six years living in New York City, Michael decided to move back to his home state of Maine. It was here that he opened a private practice as not only a maritime lawyer but handling commercial litigations and personal injury with a specialty in maritime personal injuries. It was in Portland, Maine that Michael obtained his first million dollar plus judgment for a cargo damage claim. Michael has continued to obtain judgments, jury verdicts, and/or settlements regarding maritime claims, especially personal injuries in excess of a million dollars, mostly in U.S. Federal Courts on the West Coast, Gulf Coast, Southeast Coast, Mid-Atlantic Coast, and New England. In fact, Michael represented a former Maritime Academy graduate who had been sailing as a chief mate on a container vessel, when the mate got injured. In Federal Court in New Jersey, Michael obtained his largest jury verdict of $4.4 million dollars.

Michael has been as successful defending multi-million-dollar maritime claims. In Maine, Michael obtained a federal jury verdict totally in favor of a fishing boat operator where a crew member's family was claiming multi-million dollars in damage for wrongful death.

In 1994, Captain Skip Strong, who skippered the M/T CHERRY VALLEY, successfully salvaged a tug and barge off of the coast of Florida. A salvage claim was made, and a Federal Judge awarded the owner/operator of the M/T CHERRY VALLEY, a salvage award in excess of 6 million dollars, the largest in American Maritime history. In order to resolve how the award would be split between the captain and crew of the CHERRY VALLEY and the owners of the vessel, the captain and crew retained a separate attorney to negotiate what the captain and crew should receive from the total award. The captain and crew ultimately decided on retaining Michael Savasuk. As stated by Captain Strong in his book, In Peril, The Lyon Press, 2003, p 234, "Mike Savasuk, a Maine Maritime graduate...was recommended to me...I felt that Mike had an appreciation for what it was to be a mariner, he had been well recommended as someone who engaged in cautious negotiations rather than confrontation, and he had experience negotiating similar cases.

Michael has been rated through his peers by Martindale-Hubbell with an "AV" rating, which is the "Highest Rating" in legal ability and ethical standards since 2009. In 2013, Michael obtained "Best Attorneys in Maine." Since 2016, as published in The Wall Street Journal, Michael has been rated "Best Lawyers in New England." Since 1980, as a member of the Maritime Law Association of the United States, and pursuant to the Bylaws of that Association, Michael has been certified and qualified as a Proctor in Admiralty.

On the shoreside of life, Michael has been married to his wife Elizabeth for over thirty-five years. They have three children, Michael, Kathryn, and John. Michael has in the past been voted into office as a Town Councilor for the Town of Cumberland. He played a key role in developing a football program for Cumberland, and he coached football at both the Junior and High School levels. He also spends time in the woods of Maine and New Hampshire. He loves to go trout fishing, cooking/eating, gardening, downhill skiing, and spending as much time as he can with his children.