JOHN W. KELLER, III, a partner in Keller & Mesa, LLP, is Board Certified in Admiralty and Maritime Law (Florida Bar Board of Legal Specialization and Education), an Arbitrator (independent), and recognized in “The Best Lawyers in America” (1993-present), “Florida Super Lawyers” and the South Florida Legal Guide’s “Top Lawyers.”  He is admitted to practice before the Eleventh and Fifth Circuit Courts of Appeals and the United States District Courts for the Southern and Middle Districts of Florida.  He is a member of The Florida Bar (currently serving as a member of the Admiralty Law Committee), The Maritime Law Association of the United States, and the Dade County Bar Association.




Bachelor of Science, with Honors (1974), University of Florida.


Juris Doctor (1977), Stetson University College of Law.




Upon graduation from law school, Mr. Keller returned to his home town, Miami, where he has been continuously engaged in the practice of law beginning as an associate and then as a partner at Smathers & Thompson.  He joined Fowler, White, Burnett, Hurley Banich and Strickroot in 1982 and worked there as a partner until 1992, when he co-founded the law firm of Keller & Houck, P.A.  In March 2002, he joined Henry Bolz, III, and formed the present partnership which now carries on as Keller & Mesa, LLP.


Mr. Keller’s litigation practice encompasses a wide array of trials, appeals, arbitrations (both as arbitrator and as counsel), and administrative proceedings involving:

  • Insurance Coverage

  • Environmental and pollution incidents

  • Contract disputes, including disputes relating to letter of credit programs and payment mechanisms, contract breaches, indemnity and contribution, charters, dredging activities, marine employment, terminal and stevedoring operations, shipyard and marina matters, etc. 

  • Personal injury and wrongful death claims

  • Collisions and allisions

  • Vessel, shipyard and marina explosions and fires

  • Groundings and sinkings

  • Salvage

  • Mortgages and liens

  • Pilotage regulation, accidents and disputes

  • Products liabilities

  • Cargo loss and damage

  • Towage accidents and disputes

  • Coast Guard, National Transportation Safety Board, and Immigration and Customs investigations and proceedings

As to business ventures and transactional matters, Mr. Keller’s practice is devoted to advising individual and corporate clients, including a number of ship owners, yacht owners, charterers, dredge companies, shipyard and marina operators, financial institutions, concessionaires and cargo interests with respect to:

  • Sales and construction

  • Vessel financing

  • Warranty issues

  • Product liability

  • Marina operations

  • Repair, dockage and lease agreements

  • Critical self evaluations and investigations re management and operational practices

  • Salvage Agreements

  • Insurance policies, terms and conditions

  • Charter Parties

  • Vessel management -- Safety Management Systems, STCW, etc.

  • Vessel and harbor security plans

  • Marine regulatory compliance

  • Concessionaire contracts

  • Passenger ticket contracts

  • Crew employee manuals

  • Crew employment agreements




  • “Law Applicable to Marina Operators,” Southeastern Admiralty Law Institute, June, 1987

  • “Marine Casualty Reporting & Investigation,” Southeastern Admiralty Law Institute Seminar, 1998

  • “Marine Casualty Reporting & Investigation,” Volume 24, Number 1, Tulane Maritime Law Journal, 1999

  • “Environmental Damage: Coverage & Exposure Above and Below the Water Line, The Wave of Change” - Marine Insurance Seminar, Fort Lauderdale Mariners’ Club, October 24, 2001

  • “Mediating Maritime Claims,” The Florida Bar Admiralty Law Committee, Florida Bar Annual Meetings, January 2007

  • "Florida National Marine Sanctuaries and Parks, Environments Apart," Lorman, January, 2008

  • “Corporate Manslaughter and Personal Injury in the Maritime Context,” Panelist, The London Shipping Law Centre, March 12, 2008


Awards, Honors and Recognitions


  • The Best Lawyers in America: 1993 - present.

  • AV Preeminent rated by Martindale-Hubbell.  This rating is Martindale-Hubbell’s highest possible distinction reflecting judiciary and bar members’ peer review in both legal ability and ethical standards.

  • Florida Super Lawyers: 2006 - present.

  • Top Lawyer, South Florida Legal Guide



John W. Keller, III



Phone: (305) 529-8500


Cell: (305) 798-1428


Facsimile: (305) 529-0228





University of Florida, B.S., with Honors, 1974.


Stetson University College of Law, J.D., 1977.


Bar Admissions


Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals


United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida


United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida