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Karen Waters Shields


Karen Waters Shields (formerly Shipman) is a partner in the New Orleans office of Kean Miller. Karen is an experienced litigator with particular experience in a wide variety of admiralty and oil & gas casualty and property damage issues, including Jones Act, personal injury, oil and gas exploration, well blowouts, reservoir damage, cargo damage, vessel collisions, vessel damage, platform damage and barge damage. Her experience with oil and gas casualties and disputes is both offshore in the Gulf of Mexico and on land. Karen also has experience with drafting, reviewing, litigating, and arbitrating various maritime, commercial, and oil and gas commercial contracts, including charter agreements, contracts of affreighment, master services agreements, and royalty and operating agreements. She also has experience in construction law, arbitration, consumer credit reporting, products liability, and general personal injury litigation. Following law school, she served for one year as a judicial law clerk to the Hon. Fredericka H. Wicker of the Twenty-Fourth Judicial District Court for the Parish of Jefferson. 

Karen was selected by New Orleans CityBusiness as a 2011 Leadership in Law Award recipient, and as a 2012 recipient of the Women of Year award. She was selected for inclusion in the 2013 edition of the Martindale-Hubbell Bar Register of Preeminent Women Lawyers and is AV-rated by Martindale-Hubbell. Karen is listed in Louisiana Super Lawyers 2018 - 2019 and 2023.

Representative Experience
  • Representation of the second largest natural gas producer in the United States in cases arising from blowout of one of its land wells in Louisiana, including reservoir and well damage claims and including successful prosecution of breach of contract and gross negligence claims against the wellhead contractor: After a two-week trial, the Court awarded nearly $10 million in damages to the client
  • Representation of Louisiana-based towboat operators and barge owners in defense of property damage claims and personal injury claims under the Jones Act and the General Maritime Law
  • Representation of offshore oil and gas platform and land based well owners and operators in defense of personal injury claims and in defense of and prosecution of property damage and other claims associated with well blowouts, explosions, platform damage, royalty claims, operating disputes, reservoir damage, vessel allisions, diving incidents, personnel basket transfers and other issues, including analysis of defense and indemnity and other issues under relevant contracts
  • Representation of marine and energy companies, including docking and operating facilities on the Mississippi River and other waterways, involving significant catastrophes resulting from pipeline ruptures, barge breakaways, vessel collisions, and vessel allisions
  • Representation of national commercial charterer in disputes arising out of contracts of affreightment, including demurrage disputes and force majeure defenses, including the negotiation, mediation and arbitration of contractual disputes
  • Representation of sub-contractors in both residential and large commercial construction defect litigation and contractual disputes, including arbitration of same
  • Representation of clients in matters involving alleged damages to oyster beds and leases
  • Representation of entertainment and gaming industry clients in the defense of negligence, premises liability, and vicarious liability claims
  • Representation of an entertainment and gaming industry client in the defense of an alleged sexual assault claim in a parking garage 
  • Representation of Consumer Credit Reporting Agency in defense of Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) litigation by consumers

Karen earned her B.A. in Anthropology and Human and Natural Ecology from Emory University in 1993. She earned her J.D., cum laude, with a Certificate of Specialization in Admiralty Law from Tulane University Law School in 1998.

  • Admitted, Louisiana, 2001; New York, 1999; New Jersey, 1998; United States District Courts for the Eastern, Middle and Western Districts of Louisiana; United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit; United States Supreme Court
  • Louisiana State, New York, New Jersey, American and Federal Bar Association; Women's International Shipping & Trading Association (WISTA); Women's Energy Network, Southeast Louisiana Chapter
Community Service
  • Board of Directors, New Orleans Chapter of the Federal Bar Association
  • Board of Directors, Lighthouse for the Blind of New Orleans, 2007-2010
Reported Cases
  • Champion v. Cox Operating, L.L.C., No. CV 19-12056, 2021 WL 823066, (E.D. La. Mar.4, 2021)
  • Clovelly Oil Co., LLC v. BTB Ref., LLC, 420 F. Supp. 3d.498 (E.D. La. 2019)
  • Alexander v. Kevin Gros Consulting & Marine Servs., Inc., No. CV 14-1273, 2016 WL 430413, (E.D. La. Feb. 4, 2016)
  • Clovelly Oil Co., LLC v. BTB Ref., LLC, No. CV 17-14435, 2019 WL 4777484 (E.D. La. Sept. 16, 2019) 
  • King v. RC Offshore, L.L.C., No. CV 14-2404, 2016 WL 558369, (E.D. La. Feb. 12, 2016)
  • Perise v. Eni Petroleum, U.S., L.L.C., No. 14–99, 2014 WL 4929239, (M.D. La. 10/1/14)
  • Riley v. Llog Exploration Co. LLC, No. 14-437, 2014 WL 4345002, (E.D. La. 8/ 28/14)
  • Baloney v. Ensco Offshore Co., 570 Fed. Appx. 423 (5th Cir. 2014)
  • Hardy v. Wood Grp. PSN, Inc., No. 6:13-CV-00775, 2014 WL 1664236, at *1 (W.D. La. Apr. 25, 2014)
  • Carrigan v. M/V AMC Ambassador, No. 13-03208, 2014 WL 358353 (S.D.Tex. 1/31/14)
  • Howell v. Avante Servs., LLC, No. 12-293, 2013 WL 1907474 (E.D. La. 5/8/13)
  • Punch v. Chevron USA, Inc., No. 12–388, 2012 WL 5289379 (E.D. La. 10/24/12)
  • Sherman v. Mantle Oil & Gas, LLC, 2011 WL 130240, (E.D. La., 01/14/11) (NO. CIV. A. 10-2774)
  • Allemand v. Appache Corp., 2011 WL 93747, (E.D. La., 01/05/11) (NO. CIV. A. 09-7502)
  • Nase v. TECO Energy, Inc., 2010 WL 924290, (E.D.La., 03/09/10) (NO. CIV. A. 09-7659)
  • Cardinal Towing, Inc. v. Cooper/T. Smith Corp., 2007 WL 3172123, (E.D.La., 10/29/07) (NO. CIV. A. 06-10829)
  • In re Omega Protein, Inc., 2007 WL 404695, (W.D.La., 2/2/07)(NO. 2:04-CV-2071)
  • In re Omega Protein, Inc., 2007 WL 165494, (W.D.La., 1/17/07)(NO. 2:04-CV-2071)
  • Sekco Operating Co. v. Aspect Energy, L.L.C., 2006 WL 1328824, (E.D. La., 5/9/06) (NO. CIV. A. 04-3149)
  • El Paso Production GOM, Inc. v. Smith, 406 F. Supp.2d 671, 2005 A.M.C. 2932, (E.D.La., 10/14/05) (NO.CIV. A. 05-1303)
  • Simmons Marine, LLC v. Enervest Operating, LLC, 2005 WL 2050283, (E.D. La., 08/03/05) (NO.CIV.A. 05-1303)
  • Quality Marine Services, Inc., Limitation Proceedings, M/V Mr. Jason, 2005 AMC 1438 (2005)
  • Kennedy v. Chase Manhattan Bank USA, NA, 369 F.3d 833 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, 543 U.S. 995 (2004)
Martindale Hubbell Peer Review Rated
CityBusiness Leadership in Law
CityBusiness - Leadership in Law
Super Lawyers
Karen Waters Super Lawyers