This past week has been an exciting period of time for the lawyers at Cruise Law.
Jonathan Aronson and I returned from visiting clients in Jamaica. There are a number of injured crew members who the cruise lines have dumped back in their home country after they were injured working the long hours demanded of cruise line employees. Under an ancient maritime doctrine called "maintenance and cure," maritime employers are required to provide all necessary medical treatment and pay the living expenses for the ill or injured crewmembers. All too often, the cruise lines refuse to do so, and abandon their employees back in their home countries hoping that they will not obtain legal representation.
Billboards, Newspapers and Radio:
During our trip to Jamaica, we met with representatives from billboard, newspaper and radio companies to begin advertising our legal services in Jamaica. Unlike the U.S., Jamaica has a culture where litigation is not encouraged. Plus there are virtually no Jamaican lawyers who advertise. Injured crewmembers are often from countries like Jamaica where few people file lawsuits, there is no legal advertising, and it is difficult to obtain basic information about your legal rights. (The billboard above is near the port of Falmouth, by the Mayor of Trelawny Parish).
That's about to change.
Over the next few months, Jamaicans will see our firm's name and photos on billboards, in newspapers, and on the radio throughout the country. We know first hand that there are many Jamaican men and women who dedicated their careers to cruise lines like Royal Caribbean, only to be sent a one way ticket home and forgotten when they are seriously injured and can no longer work at sea. We are educating these crewmembers regarding their right to obtain compensation here in Miami when they are disabled from cruise ship employment.
Wrongful Death Suit Filed Over Death of 14 Year Old Girl in St. Thomas:
USA Today, the Miami New Times and the Virgin Islands Daily News have reported on the case of 14 year old Liz Marie Peréz Chaparro, who was killed during a stopover in St. Thomas while on a Carnival cruise. Cruise lines have a legal duty to warn their passengers of dangers in the ports of call which they select. For our article about this terrible crime, read: More Caribbean Crime - Carnival Passenger Killed In St. Thomas.
A copy of the lawsuit is available on line here (via courthousenews.com).
More Publicity Over $1,250,000 Arbitration Award Against Royal Caribbean:
The media continues to cover the arbitration award which our firm obtained against Royal Caribbean for an injured crew member from Serbia. The South Florida Business Journal first reported on the award in an article "Royal Caribbean to pay Injured Worker $1.25M" and referred to our blog article about the case. Miami's Daily Business Review and Law.com then ran articles about the case.
Royal Caribbean's defense lawyer Curtis Mase was quoted in a follow up article by the South Florida Business Review "Royal Caribbean Case Highlights Arbitration" that the outcome of the case "flies in the face of 200 years of maritime law." Mr. Mase was referring to his argument that the cruise line should not be liable for the bad medical care provided to the injured crewmember after the cruise line abandoned her, an argument which the arbitration panel rejected.
Maritime employers have been legally responsible for the medical care and treatment of injured crewmembers actually dating back beyond 200 years to the Medieval Sea Codes. The arbitration panel not only found this cruise line's failure to provide appropriate medical treatment to be unreasonable, but it found Royal Caribbean to have acted negligently and to be 100% at fault in causing the crew member's accident.
The last crew member case which went to a final hearing or trial against Royal Caribbean and Mr. Mase resulted in an even larger award for a crew member who received bad medical care - Miami Jury Hits Royal Caribbean With $2,900,000 Verdict.
Epilogue to Losing Disqualification Motion
This arbitration award was the first crew member outcome from the team of Walker & O'Neill and former Royal Caribbean defense lawyer Jonathan Aronson. Mr. Aronson "switched sides" two years ago. In response, Royal Caribbean and Mr. Mase unsuccessfully tried to disqualify Mr. Aronson and our firm from suing the cruise line, which we reported on in articles Royal Caribbean Forces Defense Lawyer to Switch Sides and Its Not Personal . . . Its Strictly Business. After losing its first two disqualification motions, the cruise line gave up. It now has one of its best defense lawyers successfully suing it.
A Near Miss - Independence of the Seas Hauls Ass Out of Gibraltar
An explosion from a large fuel tank near Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas resulted in what the cruise line describes as "minor" injuries to a dozen passengers. Seems like many guests on the top deck may have suffered flash burns when the tank exploded. A potential disaster was averted when the captain and his officers made a quick assessment of the situation and sailed the cruise ship away from the burning tank and out to safety in the harbor. You can see dramatic video and photos in our articles here and here.
Although the story ended happily, the issue arises whether cruise ships are attractive targets for terrorists particularly when they are positioned for Mediterranean and Middle East itineraries. Parking a cruise ship next to three large fuel tanks (especially during welding operations), needs to be re-thought.
A Guest Blog Goes Viral
The summer is here again and our firm's legal intern, law student Caitlin Burke has returned to help us with our cases. She quickly volunteered for another "guest blog" which is one of the most popular articles this year. Take a moment and read "Top 10 Shocking Clauses In Your Cruise Contract" and learn how cruise lines have stacked the deck against its cruise passengers. A hell of a way to treat your customers!
If you are a cruise critic or a cruise fan and think you are up to writing a guest blog here on Cruise Law News, contact us and we will be pleased to discuss this with you.
Safe cruising . . .
Top: Trelawny Billboard - Jim walker
Middle: Port of Miami, Majesty of the Seas, Jonathan Aronson, Lisa O'Neill, Jim Walker - Jim Walker
Bottom: Panorama newspaper in Gibraltar (Douglas Cumming)