Miami Admiralty Law Attorney
Tonya J. Meister-Griffith
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A Miami maritime law specialist
When it comes to maritime law, Tonya Meister is in a league of her own. She is an admiralty and maritime law expert who is board certified by the Florida Bar in these areas of law. Mrs. Meister is the former chair and current vice chair of the Admiralty and Maritime Law Committee of the Florida Bar. Dedicated to legal ethics, she also serves as chair of the 11F Grievance Committee of the Florida Bar. In addition, Mrs. Meister is legal counsel for Port Ministries International and is on the Advisory Board of the Space Coast Seafarers Ministry. She is highly respected for her insight and experience in this area of law, and has made appearances on television programs in the United States and overseas speaking on topics related to maritime law.
Tonya has had a life-long fascination with the sea. She is an avid sailor, surfer, swimmer and scuba diver, and also enjoys canoeing and kayaking. Ms. Meister is also a NAUI dive master, a successful former competitive sailor and the former captain of a sailing team. However, she found her calling while serving as a crew member on a dive excursion passenger vessel while finishing college. She saw firsthand that crew members and passengers had rights that need to be protected and respected while out at sea. She decided to combine the passion she had for law with her love for the ocean by attending law school to study maritime law. She also worked for an admiralty attorney while completing her coursework.
Upon admittance to the Florida Bar in 2003, Mrs. Meister began working in maritime law at Morgan and Barbary, P.A. in Melbourne, Florida. Mrs. Meister gained significant experience helping injured crew and passengers recover the damages they deserved. She made headlines by helping recover unpaid wages and providing a way home for a crew stranded on a bankrupt cruise ship.
Ms. Meister was then hired as an attorney at Lipcon, Margulies, and Alsina, P.A. in Miami. During her time there, Ms. Meister gained extensive experience in a variety of maritime cases. She was privileged to submit an amicus brief on behalf of Port Ministries International to the U.S. Supreme Court in an important case to protect crew members. In this brief, she demonstrated the harsh and often unfair conditions that seafarers had to endure in order to perform their duties. The case, Atlantic Sounding Co. v. Townsend, was a landmark decision for seafarers’ rights, affirming the availability of punitive damages for seafarers who are willfully denied maintenance and cure benefits by their employers.
Throughout these experiences, Mrs. Meister saw the need for a firm that understands the specific needs of crew members and passengers who have suffered and provides a voice for justice. Meister Law, LLC was formally incorporated in 2008 in order to fulfill this goal. She has since continued to advocate for the protection and expansion of seafarers’ rights, representing clients around the world who require her expertise.
Mrs. Meister has presented seminars on various maritime topics including Update on the Eleventh, Eighth, Seventh and Sixth Circuits for a Southeastern Admiralty Law Institute; Update on Crew Injury Claims for the Florida Bar Admiralty and Maritime Law Section; Cruise Ship Law for the Florida Bar Admiralty and Maritime Law Section; Crew Arbitration for the Florida Bar Admiralty and Maritime Law Section; and Forum Non Conveniens for the American Trial Lawyers Association (now American Justice Association). She has taught classes and/or given presentations at St. Thomas Law School, University of Miami Law School and Florida International University. Mrs. Meister also currently serves on the Alumni Board of Directors for Barry University.
- All Florida state courts
- U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida
- U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida
- U.S. Supreme Court
- Barry University School of Law, J.D., cum laude, 2002
- Judicial Internship with Circuit Court Judge Vincent Torpy, Fall 2002
- Member, Student Trial Advocacy Team
- Advocate in three trial competitions. In the 2000 AFTL competition, team advanced to the semifinals.
- Certified County Court Mediator and Mediation Internship at the Orange County Courthouse
- Legislative proposal/legislative analysis submitted to Florida State Representative Haridopolos
- University of Central Florida, B.A., Legal Studies, 1997
- Dean's List, Spring–Fall 1995
- Southern Illinois University, 1992–1994
- Student Government Senator
- Judicial Review Board
- Delta Zeta Sorority
Professional memberships and affiliations
- Southeastern Admiralty Law Institute
- Dade County Bar Association
- Brevard County Bar Association
- American Association for Justice
- Florida Justice Association
- Miami-Dade Justice Association
- Port Ministries International
- Space Coast Seafarers Ministry
- Meister Law, LLC, Miami, Florida
- Attorney Owner, March 2009–present
- Practicing admiralty and maritime law
- Lipcon, Margulies & Alsina, P.A., Miami, Florida
- Attorney, August 2005–February 2009
- Practicing admiralty and maritime law
- Morgan & Barbary, P.A., Melbourne, Florida
- Attorney, April 2003–August 2005
- Practicing in the areas of maritime, personal injury and social security disability law