Our Team - Christopher W. Nicoll

Christopher W. Nicoll


Practice Areas

  • Maritime Litigation and Transactions
  • Marine Insurance Coverage
  • General Commercial Litigation and Arbitration
  • Tort Defense
  • Federal and State Appeals

Direct: (206) 838-7546 


Personal Narrative

Chris is an accomplished trial and appellate lawyer with a 41 year track record of success in many complex fields of law including admiralty, medical malpractice defense, commercial disputes, product liability, multi-national litigation, oil and gas, premises liability and criminal law. Chris received his B.A. degree with honors from Boston College and his J.D. from the University of Idaho College of Law where he was a law review author and editor and was inducted into the Order of Barristers. Prior to entering private practice, Chris was a prosecuting attorney in Sun Valley, Idaho from 1980 – 82 and a Judge Advocate in the U.S. Navy from 1982 – 88, attaining the rank of Lieutenant Commander. While a criminal attorney in Idaho and as a Judge Advocate, Chris handled many matters at sea and in foreign ports, including the 1984 collision of the USS KITTY HAWK (CV-63) with a Soviet nuclear submarine, an underwater allision involving a U.S. submarine, and the Iraqi missile attack on the USS STARK in 1987.

Chris began his private practice in 1988 with Vinson & Elkins in Houston, Texas. While there he represented vessel owners, oil rig owners and operators, land-based businesses and insurers, in state and federal courts and in connection with foreign proceedings. Chris was intimately involved in defense of the owner of the PIPER ALPHA North Sea oil production platform after it exploded in 1988, in addition to representation of vessel owners, water front facilities and insurers. Chris moved to Seattle in 1991 and joined Bogle & Gates, where he continued to work as a trial lawyer focusing on maritime industries and their insurers. After being elected to the partnership in 1993, Chris left Bogle & Gates in 1997 to join Lane Powell’s Seattle office where he continued handling complex litigation involving international casualties, transportation law, insurance coverage, construction, professional liability, and admiralty law. Chris left Lane Powell with many of his colleagues and joined Cozen O’Connor as a Senior Member in 1999 where he continued his commercial, maritime, transportation and general trial and appellate practice. In 2004, Chris left Cozen O’Connor to form Nicoll Black & Feig PLLC, where his trial and appellate practice has continued to grow and diversify.

Chris is licensed to practice in Washington and Idaho, is a “Proctor of Admiralty” in the Maritime Law Association of the United States, is a former Vice-Chair of the Admiralty and Maritime Law Committee of the Tort & Insurance Practice Section of the American Bar Association, is a member of the Transportation Lawyers Association and a member of DRI the Voice of the Defense Bar. Chris was appointed by the Washington Supreme Court to the Washington Pattern Instructions Committee. A regular lecturer and author on maritime, transportation, insurance, and trial defense topics, Chris has been featured in the National Law Journal for his defense of one of the Navy officers of the USS STARK (July 1991 issue), has been selected as a “Super Lawyer” multiple times by Washington Law and Politics, is AV rated by Martindale Hubbell, and awarded the President’s Award by the Washington Defense Trial Lawyers’ Association.

A skilled and well-rounded trial lawyer, Chris has tried hundreds of criminal and civil cases to successful conclusion in courts around the world, most recently achieving in March, 2018 a directed verdict in favor of a foreign client targeted by a U.S. carrier for unsubstantiated demurrage charges. Chris has also distinguished himself as an appellate lawyer, successfully pursuing and defending numerous appeals in state and federal appeals courts over the course of his diverse career, both for clients and amicus curiae.

Representative Published Decisions

  • Certain Underwriter’s at Lloyds, London v. Inlet Fisheries, Inc.,518 F.3d 645, 2008 A.M.C. 305 (9th Cir. 2008) (vessel pollution insurance coverage case establishing utmost good faith as controlling rule for marine insurance in the Ninth Circuit)
  • Bordeaux Wine Locators Inc. v. Matson Navigation Co., 185 F.3d 865 (9th Cir. 1999) (COGSA package limit case for carrier)
  • Certain Underwriter’s at Lloyds, London v. Inlet Fisheries, Inc., 389 F. Supp. 2d 1145 (D. Alaska 2005) (published summary judgment in favor of Lloyds, enforcing utmost good faith)
  • Giroux v. Keyport, LLC, Case No. 09-481RAJ, 2010 WL 3211913 (W.D.Wash.,2010) (summary judgment in Washington case on Florida contract claims)
  • Seaspan International Ltd. Limitation Proceedings, 172 F. Supp. 2d 1314, 2001 AMC 2366 (W.D. Wash. 2001) (limitation of liability case for vessel owner)
  • In re Bell, C12-1126JLR, 2014 WL 129642 (W.D. Wash. Jan. 13, 2014) (limitation of liability case for vessel owner arising out of vessel fire at marina)
  • Steamship Mut. Underwriting Ass’n Ltd. v. Osprey Underwriting Agency Ltd., C15-0043RSM, 2015 WL 10856267, 206 AMC 539 (W.D. Wash. Nov. 5, 2015) (contribution between consecutive protection & indemnity insurers)
  • Matter of: the Complaint of William & Myo Shears, C14-1296RSM, 2016 WL 30019, 2016 AMC 421 (W.D. Wash. Jan. 4, 2016) (limitation of liability case for a vessel owner arising of marina fire)
  • Doohan v. Captain’s Cove Marina of Bridgeport, Inc., 3:12cv252 (D. Conn. 2013) (limitation of liability case for claimant; got limitation case dismissed for lack of admiralty jurisdiction); aff’d sub. nom. Tandon v. Captain’s Cover Marina of Bridgeport, Inc., 752 F.3d 219, 240 (2d Cir. 2014)
  • Moe v. Key Bank, 2000 AMC 2651 (W.D. Wash. 2000) (summary dismissal of vessel owner’s suit against lender for damages under Jones Act and general maritime law)
  • Fireman Fund Insurance Co. v. Alaskan Pride, 1994 AMC 2369 (W.D. Wash. 1994) (hull coverage litigation arising from sinking of crabbing vessel)
  • Strok v. F/T Northern Jaeger, 1992 WL 503590, 1993 A.M.C. 1290 (W.D.Wash.1992) (dismissal of Jones Act claims for failure to provide expert evidence of causation)
  • Glover v. State of Alaska, Dept. of Transp., 142 Wash.App. 442, 443, 174 P.3d 1246, 1246 (2008) (successful application of full faith and credit clause to enforce Alaska statutes in Washington court proceedings)
  • Coast to Coast Seafood v. Assurances Generales, 112 Wash. App. 624, 50 P.3d 662 (2002) (cargo insurance coverage related to fraud by cargo seller)
  • Kimta AS v. Royal Insurance Company, 102 Wash. App. 716, 9 P.3d 239 (2000) (cargo insurance coverage litigation involving the FC&S Clause)
  • Wolstein v. Yorkshire Insurance Co., 97 Wash. App. 201, 985 P.2d 400 (1999) (marine builder’s risk coverage litigation)


  • From the World of Asbestos, WDTL Defense News (Summer 2017) 15 (co-authored with Mike King)
  • WDTL Amicus Committee Tackles Personal Jurisdiction, WDTL Defense News (Winter 2016) 9
  • Seaman’s Punitive Damage Claims Cheat Death: Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker and Atlantic Sounding v. Townsend, 9 Benedict’s Maritime Bulletin 170 (2011) (with Jeremy Jones)
  • Uberrimae Fidei: The Doctrine That’s On Everyone’s Lips, 21 U.S.F. Mar. L. J. 1 (2009)
  • Idaho Code § 18-6105: A Limitation on the Use of Evidence Relating to the Prior Sexual Conduct of the Prosecutrix in Idaho Rape Trials, 15 Idaho L. Rev. 323 (1979)

Representative Speaking Engagements

  • Big Changes in the Law of Personal Jurisdiction: A Survey of Recent Supreme Court Opinions from Goodyear to Bristol-Myers Squibb, Washington State Bar Association, Tacoma (2018)
  • Amicus Committee Update, Washington Defense Trial Lawyers Association, Seattle (2017)
  • Maritime Subrogation and the “Made Whole” Doctrine, Puget Sound Marine Claims Association, Seattle (2014)
  • Shipowners’ Limitation of Liability: Practical Considerations for the Practitioner, University of Washington School of Law, Seattle (2014)
  • Punitive Damages: Revolutionary or A Trip Through the Way-Back Machine?, Alaska Bar Association, Anchorage (2012)
  • Advising Vessel Owners, Maritime Employers and their Insurers on Maintenance and Cure Issues in the post-Atlantic Sounding World, Alaska Bar Association, Anchorage (2012)
  • Marine Insurance Basics and Important Recent Developments, Washington Defense Trial Lawyers Association, Seattle (2012)
  • “I’m not dead! I’m getting better…I think I’ll go for a walk!” Seamen’s Punitive Damage Claims Cheat Death: Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker and Atlantic Sounding Co. v. Townsend, Washington State Bar Association and Federal Bar Association, Seattle (2011)
  • Important Developments in the Law and Practice of Maintenance & Cure, Marine Insurance Association of Seattle, Seattle (2010)
  • Uberrimae Fidei: The Doctrine That’s On Everyone’s Lips, Pacific Admiralty Seminar, San Francisco (2008)
  • Important Developments in Maritime Law for Vessel Owners, North Pacific Fishing Vessel Owners Association, Seattle (2007)
  • The Present State of Wilburn Boat Choice of Law in Marine Insurance Disputes: Does State or Federal Law Apply?, Puget Sound Maritime Claims Association, Seattle (2007)
  • The Present State of Wilburn Boat Choice of Law in Marine Insurance Disputes: Does State or Federal Law Apply? Lloyds of London, London (2007)
  • Rule B Attachments of Electronic Fund Transfers, The Korean Shipowners’ Mutual Protection and Indemnity Insurance Association, Seoul (2007)
  • Containers Overboard! Perspectives of a Major Cargo Loss, Taiwan Shipowners’ Association (2007)
  • Practical and Legal Pointers for Surveyors: Ramblings of a Maritime Lawyer in Early Days of the 21st Century, Annual Convention of the National Association of Marine Surveyors, Seattle (2006)
  • The Law of Maritime Wrongful Death: Recent Developments and Issues for Washington Practitioners, Lorman Education Services, Seattle (2005)


Boston College, B.A. 1977
University of Idaho College of Law, J.D. 1980

Professional Experience

Founding Member, Nicoll Black & Feig, 2004-Present
Cozen O’Connor, Seattle, 1999-2004
Lane Powell, Seattle, 1997-1999
Bogle & Gates, Seattle, 1991-1997
Vinson & Elkins, Houston, 1988-1991
U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps, 1982-1988
Prosecutor’s Office, Blaine County, Idaho, 1980-1982


Maritime Law Association of the United States
Marine Insurance Association of Seattle
Washington Defense Trial Lawyers Association
Transportation Lawyers Association
DRI the Voice of the Defense Bar
Federal Bar Association of the Western District of Washington
Puget Sound Marine Claims Association
Marine Exchange of Puget Sound
Seattle Propeller Club
Washington Pattern Jury Instruction Committee

Bar Admissions

Washington, Idaho and Texas (inactive)
U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington, Eastern District of Washington, District of Idaho, Southern District of Texas
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces
U.S. Courts of Appeals, Fifth and Ninth Circuits
United States Supreme Court