Robert W. Phelan


New York

(212) 908-1274

(866) 850-7490

Robert Phelan litigates property subrogation matters and inland marine, maritime and other transportation cases involving shipping law, international trade law and private international law throughout the domestic United States. Based in New York City, Robert has been admitted pro hac vice to litigate such cases on behalf of clients in federal District Courts in California, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Mississippi and Pennsylvania.

Robert handles claims and recoveries for domestic and international clients arising from air, land or sea losses occurring in the United States, Central and South America, Europe, the CIS, and Asia. He regularly handles complex losses involving failures in yacht design, construction and maintenance. Robert also frequently represents seawall, pier or bridge claimants in allision cases, either as a subrogating plaintiff or as a defendant in maritime limitation actions. In recognition of his handling of maritime matters, Robert has attained the status of a Proctor in Admiralty in the Maritime Lawyers Association of the United States.

Robert also frequently handles Carmack inland marine transportation cases throughout the United States for clients regularly insuring domestic freight in interstate commerce.

Robert earned a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University in 1995 and a law degree, cum laude, from the University of Minnesota Law School in 2000. 



Robert Phelan Receives Proctor in Admiralty Nomination by the Maritime Law Association of the United States

May 11, 2016

Robert W. Phelan, a member of Cozen O’Connor’s Subrogation & Recovery Department, received the nomination of Proctor in Admiralty by the Maritime Law Association of the United States (MLA).

Cozen O’Connor Names 17 Attorneys to Membership in the Firm

April 28, 2008

Cozen O’Connor has announced that 17 of its associates have been named members of the firm. ''We are extremely proud to welcome these highly qualified attorneys into membership in the firm,'' said Thomas A. Decker, president and chief executive officer of Cozen O'Connor, ''Their individual and combined contributions reflect the talent and strength of our firm.''


Bailment Law in a New York Wonka Warehouse

September 09, 2019

A recent New York trial court level case, MBNY LLC v. Larkin Cold Storage Co., Inc., examined another loss within a different candy storage facility that has two implications for cargo/marine subrogation clients.

“What’s in a name?” William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, act 2, sc. 2 [Subrogation & Recovery Law Blog]

September 20, 2017

The United States Congress passed the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act in 1936. The purpose of COGSA was to establish a standardized set of definitions and rules to govern the terms and conditions used in ocean bills of lading. One of its key provisions, Section 4(5) limits a vessel’s liability for lost...

Federal Court Permits Subrogated Insurer to Seek Recovery from Tyco Despite a Waiver of Subrogation [Subrogation & Recovery Alert]

August 21, 2015

A good investigation into how cargo thieves breached a facility may allow a subrogated carrier to circumvent a Waiver of Subrogation defense.

Carrier's website does not limit liability under Carmack Amendment [Maritime Alert]

December 11, 2013

A recent decision in District Court in New Jersey may interest insurers subrogating transportation claims. In particular, it sets forth the legal argument to challenge target-carriers’ arguments about purported limitations of liability and the appropriate measure of damages.

Impact of Late Notice of Claim to Liability Carrier (New York) [Subrogation & Recovery Law Blog]

April 18, 2013

A severe recent federal court decision in New York state emphasized the importance of having your subrogation counsel identify and notify the insurer for potentially responsible parties of subrogation claims as soon as possible. In 2008, the New York legislature amended Insurance Law § 3420 to...

Second Circuit holds that New York Building Code imposes non-delegable duty on property owner [Subrogation & Recovery Law Blog]

October 19, 2012

This summer, in reviewing a filed lawsuit, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals made a determination as a matter of law on a matter of first impression, specifically holding that property owners in New York City have a non-delegable duty to maintain the structural integrity of adjoining walls,...

Subrogating Against The Long Island Power Authority--Guidelines and Pitfalls [Subrogation & Recovery Law Blog]

March 13, 2012

In situations where the Long Island electrical distribution system is involved in causing the loss, it is critically important to make sure that you adhere to certain particular Notice of Claim requirements, heed the shortened statute of limitations period, and also identify any additional...

Fall 2009 [Subrogation and Recovery Observer]

October 01, 2009

Fall 2009 - Subrogation and Recovery Observer - Welcome to the Fall 2009 issue of the Cozen O'Connor Subrogation and Recovery Observer. In this issue, we report on our recent trial victories, notable settlements, and other newsworthy developments in subrogation issues

US Toughens Up [Maritime Risk International]

March 01, 2008

US Toughens Up - Maritime Risk International - 2 pgs total. This article looks at a wave of recent developments to protect maritime trade and improve both the economy and safety.

Sompo vs. Altadis/COGSA vs Carmack [Maritime Alert!]

October 09, 2007

Sompo vs. Altadis/COGSA vs Carmack - Maritime Alert! - 4 pgs total. In conclusion, despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s efforts in Kirby to adopt a single default rule on cargo liability for intermodal shipments, federal courts throughout the U.S. are nevertheless split on how to apply COGSA and Carmack in a consistent and methodical fashion. Until then, we recommend that our maritime clients take all necessary steps to protect their respective interests under both COGSA and Carmack.

Events & Seminars

Past Events

Collisions and Allisions 101

December 03, 2020 - Webinar

Cranes and Artwork 101

November 15, 2019 - Webinar

Webinar: Inland Marine Subrogation 101

August 09, 2017 - Webinar

Industry Sectors


  • University of Minnesota Law School, J.D., cum laude, 2000
  • Georgetown University, B.S.F.S., 1995
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • U.S. District Court -- New Jersey
  • U.S. District Court -- Eastern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court -- Northern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court -- Southern District of New York
  • Maritime Law Association of the United States - Proctor in Admiralty