Hon. Frederic N. Smalkin (Ret.) has a unique practical and academic background in Maritime Law, having decided and mediated a number of maritime cases and having been awarded the degree of Master of Laws in Maritime Law from the University of London.
During his years of service as a U.S. Magistrate, Judge Smalkin concentrated on pioneering the role of Federal Magistrates in civil litigation, especially as settlement mediators. He has successfully settled hundreds of cases and taught mediation skills to others. He served as a Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court, District of Maryland, from October 2001 through January 2003, and subsequently became a Senior Judge before retiring from judicial office in 2011. Prior to being appointed as District Judge in 1986, he served as a United States Magistrate Judge for the District of Maryland for ten years.
Judge Smalkin has taught by invitation for many institutions, bar associations, and professional organizations including providing CLEs to the Maritime Law Association. He has been recognized with a number of awards for excellence in teaching.
Representative Maritime Matters
Judge Smalkin has successfully mediated the following cases since joining JAMS:
- Major shipbuilding contract dispute
- Collision between two jet skis operated by pre-teens, with fatality of one of the children, presenting multiple issues, including limitation of liability, imputation of parental negligence, premises liability, evidentiary effect of collateral forfeiture for natural resources law violation
- Dispute over constructive total loss, with complex issues of breach of a promissory warranty and marine insurance broker malpractice
- Several separate Jones Act cases involving serious injury, presenting difficult questions of negligence on the parts of the injured seamen
Judge Smalkin presided over the following maritime and admiralty cases while on the bench:
- AccaiSpeciali Terni USA v. M/V BERANE, 181 F.Supp. 2d 458 (2002), 182 F.Supp. 2d 503 (2002)
- Hawksphere Shipping Co. v. 65 Bundles of Secondary Aluminum, 178 F.Supp. 2d 486 (2001)
- Compania Sud Americana de Vapores, S.A., v. I.T.O. Group, 940 F.Supp. 855 (1996)
- Ryan-Walsh v. M/V Ocean Trader, 930 F.Supp. 210 (1996)
Comments from JAMS Clients
What JAMS Clients Say About Judge Smalkin's Mediation Style and Skills
- "This is a personal note of thanks for your successful efforts to bring about a fair and efficient mediated resolution of a very difficult case. Thanks for your persistence and patience. We will be sure to call upon you again when the need arises." - Comment by Senior Partner, Major East Coast Law Firm
- "As a veteran employment attorney who represents both fortune 500 companies and individual plaintiffs, I have attended numerous private mediations with respected mediators and former judges. I can say, without any reservation, that Frederic N. Smalkin (Ret. USDC MD Judge) is just unbelievably great as a mediator. In my mediation with Judge Smalkin I represented a plaintiff in a sex harassment case against a national company. Defense counsel had recommended Judge Smalkin. I cautiously agreed, since I had heard of his reputation as a defense oriented judge. Nothing could be furthest from the truth. Judge Smalkin is simply an incredibly intelligent, tough, no nonsense, mediator. Smalkin is exactly what I look for in a mediator. He is direct, effective, and does not waste any time. Judge Smalkin had the unique ability to truly listen to my client and he made her feel safe and important. If you happen to land Judge Smalkin as a mediator, consider yourself extremely fortunate.” - Senior Managing Partner at a prominent employment law firm
- "Judge Smalkin was extremely well-prepared for my arbitration, both as to the facts and on the law. He is flexible but firm in scheduling and has an excellent sense of what is and is not appropriate in terms of discovery and briefing. Judge Smalkin is adept at providing the parties the opportunity to be heard, but at the same time keeping them on point by directing as to what facts and issues are most important to his decision-making. He has an even-keeled personality and is unbiased and fair, which combined with his extraordinary intellect, make him an excellent arbitrator. I have been involved in dozens of arbitrations, and rank Judge Smalkin as one of the very best.” - Comment by Principal Attorney at a prominent Baltimore law firm
- "I have used Judge Smalkin on two mediations, and he has been terrific. Both cases settled, despite serious obstacles. In the first case, Judge Smalkin was able to mediate a legal malpractice claim, and my client and I were very satisfied with his work. In the second, the claim was much larger and more complicated, and involved many attorneys and many parties. Judge Smalkin was both dogged and creative, and was able to shepherd home a settlement in very difficult circumstances. I was very appreciative of his hard work, and I certainly recommend him without reservation."
- “The complex nature of this litigation (and the related cases pending in other jurisdictions) and the animosity among the parties made settlement very difficult. Without [Judge Smalkin’s] intervention it is unlikely that a settlement ever would have occurred. He is to be congratulated not only for his consummate legal skills, but his willingness to persevere under difficult circumstances and his patience and calm demeanor during stormy confrontations."
- “On a level of one to ten, with ten being the highest, Judge Smalkin receives an eleven. We were aware that Judge Smalkin was quite knowledgeable in the area of maritime law and that was part of the reason why the parties selected him to mediate this case. His knowledge and ability exceeded our expectations. We are very happy that we selected him.”
- “I came across your card today and was reminded of your help to us in resolving the issue our Company had with... You performed an important role and you did it efficiently. While we were not happy to have to pay a settlement, we are happy that it's behind us, and we believe it was fair to all. Thanks again for your help, and best wishes to you." - CEO of a major corporation