Yah Mon! Cruise Law Goes to Jamaica

Tomorrow the lawyers here at our firm are traveling again to Jamaica.

We'll be visiting our clients to see how they are doing. I will be meeting friends in Falmouth and will see if there has been any signs of the revitalization of the town after the new Royal Caribbean port destroyed ancient coral reefs and native mangroves to make way for the Oasis and Allure of the Seas

We will also make ourselves available to meet with any crew members who need to learn about the Injured Crew Members - Jamaica - Lawyers legal rights of cruise ship employees who become ill or injured on cruise ships. 

I will be arriving at Montego Bay tomorrow morning and I will be available to meet with crew members or their family for two days (Monday and Tuesday). I'll  be hosting a free conference at the "Jamaica No Problem Room" in the beautiful Hibiscus Lodge in Ocho Rio. The address is 83 Main Street in Ocho Rios. Please come with your questions or concerns. No fee or obligation of course.

My co-counsel Jonathan Aronson will be will me.

The photo above was from a prior visit to the famous "No Problem Room." 

If Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Celebrity, Disney or some other cruise line has treated you poorly after you were injured on the ship, or if you have medical problems like hypertension, diabetes, cancer or other illnesses which require treatment, please don't hesitate to contact me. 

And if you can't come to the clinic, no problem.  Please email me at jim@cruiselaw.com and I will be pleased to answer any questions you may have and can call you to discuss your concerns if you wish. 

Cruise Law News' Four Year Anniversary: Have You Read Our Stories?

This week marks the 4th year anniversary of starting my blog Cruise Law News (CLN). 

I've written 1,585 articles, which averages out to be over one per day. We have received over 4,700 comments to our articles, mostly from U.S. readers. Google Analytics tell us over 1,000,000 different people have read over 3,500,000 pages of our blog in the last 12 months. The blog has come a long way since September 2009 when barely 5,000 people read CLN.

According to the AVVO ranking system, CLN is currently ranked the 10th most popular law blog in the U.S. Of the nine blogs more popular than ours, five are written by law professors and four are for-profit, monetized blogs which accept advertising which you will never see here. So you can make the Cruise Law News - Jim Walker Miamiargument that CLN is the most popular law blog written by one lawyer who actually practices law.

CLN reached an international audience when I started my Cruise Law News Facebook page last year and began posting the CLN articles on Facebook. The result has been fantastic. Around 70,000 fans follow us on Facebook. We are growing exponentially. We have more readers whose languages are primarily non-English than English readers.

The top countries where our CLN Facebook followers are from are India, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and then the U.S. The next five most popular countries are Turkey, Romania, Croatia, Italy and Chile.    

The stories we cover here on CLN are genuine, dramatic and often disturbing. They are not fiction.

Several years ago, Kevin O'Keefe, the founder and CEO of Seattle-based LexBlog, which designed and hosts our blog, came to Miami to meet some of the Miami bloggers who are part of his network. During dinner, O'Keefe asked me why I liked to blog. Instantly I told him that a half-dozen of my clients have testified before Congressional committees in Washington D.C. about being victimized on cruise ships. Their stories, about ship fires, loved ones lost at sea, and cruise crime, are riveting. Their causes deserved a larger audience. And I wanted to tell their compelling stories and promote their causes on a national and international basis.

CLN permits me to do that. Our firm and our blog have been mentioned in over one-hundred newspapers, cable news stations, radio shows, television programs and documentaries this year alone. CLN has taken my client's causes around the world to places I have never been to before, like India, Serbia, Croatia, Peru and Venezuela.     

So why has Cruise Law News been so successful you may ask?

In Jonas Sachs' book Winning the Story Wars, the author explains that those who tell the best stories will be successful. Sachs defines "best" as those authentic stories which inspire compassion and hope and bring about positive social change.

Our stories are about the little man taking on the big corporation, such as $500-a-month cruise employees from India working over 360 hours a month standing up to the abuses of multi-national companies based here in Miami. We write about grass roots victims' groups enacting legislation over the fierce opposition and dirty tricks of huge, billion-dollar tax-avoiding cruise corporations.  Many of our stories are about women, both passengers and crew, taking on the male-dominated cruise industry.

There are many social media experts who say that the key to a successful blog is to consistently and genuinely demonstrate passion about an issue. That's true. But it's not enough. Whether your blog sells a product or promotes a cause, an author needs a compelling story to tell.

That's where I have a distinct advantage over other lawyers and bloggers. I realize that the stories here on CLN are not mine. I am just a storyteller. The stories are the only reason my articles are widely read and CLN is closely followed. The stories are of our clients and friends who have endured unimaginable events while cruising, of all things. Stories like being sexually assaulted during cruise vacations, or losing a parent or a spouse or a child on the high seas.  And in a time of despair and desperation, many of these nice people face corporate deceit or heartless indifference of the worst kind. These stories must be told.

Cruise Lawyers - You Can Love 'Em or Hate 'Em, But You Need Them.

Yesterday I mentioned our blog's three year anniversary. I was pleased to receive some positive comments back from our readers, particularly on our facebook page. Here is one comment that I received via email from a travel agent which I thought was nice: 

"Congratulations on three very successful, provocative, educational and to say the least enlightening years. As a travel professional your articles have caused me to reconsider may things I advise my clients on when it comes not only to cruising but while taking land vacations also.

Thanks for all the good work."

One of our goals is to educate the public about some of the hidden dangers of cruising. So it's encouraging to hear from travel agents who read our blog and learn that they are mentioning some of the issues and safety points we discuss here.

Cruise Ship Lawyer Miami - Royal Caribbean - CarnivalBut our anniversary also brought us hate e-mail as well.  

When I read emails like the one below, I realize that there is no question that we live in a polarized society. Half of the public understands the need for lawyers to help weak & injured people, and to try and keep large corporations in line. The other half of the public views trial lawyers are a sign of the apocalypse:   

"So why do we have to wait in line to sign the silly waivers to do anything like skate, climb or ride the flowrider? You Ambulance chasers make me ashamed to be an American! I've been on many cruises and they are working extremely hard providing an outstanding and safe product. You don't fool most of us -- we know it's all about money! Why don't you get a real job instead of feeding on the labor of others? I have had many conversations with workers on ships -- you know they think we Americans are a bunch of lazy bums looking to sue. It's true -- they laugh at our silly warning labels!

Thank you Mr Lawyer! Mr. Ambulance Chaser."

When I receive emails like this I have to stop and scratch my head. "Waivers" on cruise ships are against the law. There is absolutely no reason to ever stand in a line on a cruise ship to sign a waiver because they are null, void and unenforceable.

Why are they illegal?  Because lawyers fought for injured passengers. In a case we handled, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal recently struck down a cruise line waiver which purported to strip passengers of their legal rights before they can participate in activities like zip lines, wall climbing, flowriders, rock climbing and skating.

Cruise lines hire large teams of lawyers to advance their legal interests. Any case filed against a Miami-based cruise line will be assigned to a team of lawyers and legal assistants - a partner, senior associate, junior associate and a paralegal or two.

In big cases, cruise lines hire a proverbial city of lawyers. Costa cruise line hired dense lawyers in Rome, Genoa, New York, London, Washington DC and Miami to represent it following the Costa Concordia disaster.  

An average passenger or crew member does not stand a chance against a large corporation like Carnival or Royal Caribbean unless they hire a lawyer.

Yes, there are some silly warning signs on some products which are not needed. We can all agree on that and have a good laugh. But if you are a victim of a crime or serious injury during a cruise and don't hire a lawyer, it will be the cruise line who will be having a laugh at your expense. 

Cruise Law News Celebrates Three Year Anniversary!

This month marks the three year anniversary of my blog, Cruise Law News ("CLN").

I started this blog in September 2009 with the goal of writing about "everything the cruise lines don't want you to know." There has been a lot to write about.

Shipboard rapes. Molestation of children. Mistreatment of foreign crew members. Overboard passengers and crew. Cruise line cover-ups. You can read it all here.

Three years later, CLN has now published over 1,100 articles and received over 3,200 comments from our readers. The CLN Twitter feed has over 10,000 followers, plus those who subscribe to the blog via email, RSS feed, or Google reader.

Perhaps the most exciting thing about CLN lately is the explosion of our readership on our Facebook page. Over 18,500 people have "liked" CLN's Facebook and are spreading the word.

All of the drama following the Costa Concordia disaster has driven our readership up considerably. So far this year, 724,328 people have read 2,575,675 pages of Cruise Law News.

Being popular is nice, but being influential in shaping cruise news is where the real satisfaction comes Cruise Law News - Cruise Ship Crimefrom. The national and international press have carried our message to the public  You can read about the over 35 major newspapers, television and documentaries which have mentioned our firm and/or cited our blog this year, below.

Just this this week Fort Lauderdale's Sun Sentinel quoted CLN in an article about the latest passenger overboard from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. While Royal Caribbean was boasting that it "immediately" notified the Coast Guard, we pointed out that in truth the cruise line waited over 2 hours to do so.  A few days later we were the first in the U.S. to report on a crew member who disappeared from another Royal Caribbean cruise ship, the Serenade of the Seas

The Concordia fallout led to two Congressional hearings this year which we attended and blogged from Washington D.C. about the cruise industry's strategy to bamboozle the public about the safety of cruising. (Photo above right, with members of the International Cruise Victims' organization).     

Chris Owens, a popular cruise blogger who writes for Gadling, characterized our blog as follows:

"Jim Walker’s Cruise Law News adds a sobering tone to what can be an industry that sometimes gets a bit wrapped up in itself, asking and answering tough questions about current maritime matters. First on the doorstep of cruise lines when things go wrong, Walker also does not hesitate to jump into the conversation when passengers have unreasonable demands."

This year we have been very vocal about the sad state of affairs of the cruise industry post Costa Concordia, as well as the plight of families of missing loved ones on cruise ships.  Below is a video from Australia's Dateline regarding the disturbing disappearance of Disney youth counselor Rebecca Coriam from the Bahamian-flagged Disney Wonder.  This is a case where, in my opinion, the Bahamian police and the Disney corporation have stonewalled the grieving family at every turn.  

A heartfelt thanks to the readers of this blog. Many thanks to those I don't know but who send me anonymous tips about things that the cruise lines are trying to cover up.  

Finally, thanks to everyone who helps me write about "everything the cruise lines don't want you to know."    

 

 

In this year (2012) alone, CLN and our clients have been featured on CNN's Wolf Blitzer & Erin Burnett, Wall street Journal's "Cruise Safety, a Century After Titanic," Australian Sun Herald's "Boozy Cruises a Recipe For Disaster Expert Warns," Travel Agent Central's "Lawsuits Target Carnival in the U.S. But Will They Succeed?," Examiner's "Costa Favolosa Dancer From South Africa Lost At Sea," USA TODAY's  "Stats Don't Fully Account For All Cruise-Ship Crime," ABC News' "Vacation Danger: Is Cruise Ship Liable for Perils on Shore Excursions?," Virgin Islands Daily News' "Court Rules Lawsuit Over Slain Teen Tourist Should Be Heard," Washington Post's "Dumped in the Caribbean," Newsweek's "The Hidden Horrors of Cruise Ships," CNN's "Cruise Victims Get Minimum Compensation," CNN's "Cruise to Disaster," Daily Business Review's "Lawyer Wins $1.25 Million in Arbitration For Employee Injured Aboard Cruise Ship," South Florida Business Journal's Is Salon Article A Smoking Gun On Cruise Line Crime Stats?, Greenwich Magazine's "Who Killed George Smith?," PBS / NOVA Cruise Special: "Why Ships Sink," Houston Chronicle's "Court Leaves Galveston Cruise Ship Departure Uncertain Until Last Minute," Date Line's "Lost at Sea," Herald Sun's "Cruise Ships Perfect Ground for Predators," 20/20 "Costa Concordia Crash," CNBC's "Travel: Do You Need Medical Evacuation Insurance?," CTV / Canadian Television's "Crime, Fires Compromise Cruise Ship Safety: Experts," International Herald Tribune / New York Times' "Disaster Cripples Cruiser, Not Cruising," Washington Post's "Costa Concordia Sinking Leaves Other Cruise Ship Passengers Alarmed — And Out Of Luck," Cleveland Plain Dealer's "Cruise Ship Accident Prompts Questions About Industry Safety," Examiner"s Passengers Blame Carnival Corporation for Costa Concordia Wreck," Washington Post's "The Ship Sailed, But They Didn't;" and Barbados Free Press' Cruise Ship Horror Stories Good for Island Tourism?

Walker & O'Neill Settles Claim By Royal Caribbean Cabin Attendant

Walker & O'Neill recently settled a claim against Royal Caribbean Cruises on behalf of a seriously injured former crewmember, originally from St. Vincent in the West Indies.

The crewmember was employed as a stateroom attendant for a number of years. Stateroom attendants, also referred to as cabin attendants or cabin cleaners, are required to work long hours and are often assigned over 20 cabins to clean. They are responsible for cleaning the bathrooms, cabin interiors, and balconies on exterior cabins for all of the assigned guests, as well changing the linen and making the beds several times a day. The cruise line also presses them into carrying heavy luggage during embarkation days as well.

Royal Caribbean pays cabin attendants only $50 a month in salary.  The crewmembers are dependent on tips from passengers to make a living.Royal Caribbean Crew - Cabin Attendant - Maritime Lawyer   

The crewmember in question was injured on the Enchantment of the Seas while he was lifting a sofa to clean under it and experienced sharp pain in his lower back. He sought treatment from RCCL's on board medical team.

Unfortunately, the cruise line failed to provide prompt and adequate care and deemed him fit to continue working even though he was in immense pain.

Our firm flew the injured crewmember to Miami where we arranged for him to be evaluated by a board certified orthopedic doctor.  We were successful in reaching a settlement of his claim to compensate him for his injury and resulting pain and suffering, and to provide funds for medical treatment in the future.

Please keep in mind when you cruise on Royal Caribbean cruise ships that the cabin attendants work well in excess of 10 hours a days, 7 days a week. That's over 280 hours a month without a day's rest.

Tip them generously! 

 

Photo credit: Jim Walker (photo used with client's consent)

I'll Take a Compliment Wherever I Can Get One

When I created Cruise Law News back in September 2009, my goal was to raise awareness of safety issues on cruise ships.  I wanted my articles to be interesting and, perhaps, provocative in order to spark debate about the cruise industry with the goal of making cruising safer for both passengers and crew. 

Back then I really didn't care (and still don't today) whether readers agree or disagree with me.  I care only that you have an opinion about issues like cruise ship crimes, people who vanish at sea, and exploitation of foreign crewmembers.  These are dramatic issues and deserve an energetic debate.

My thought process about cruise issues has changed over the years.  Some of my opinions have hardened, while other opinions have softened.  I especially value the dialogue that I has developed with the "enemy" - those readers of my blog "in the industry" - cruise fans, cruise employees and travel agents. Not many cruise fans agree with me, but that's not my goal. 

One thing I do like tracking is the number of people who write hate mail.  I know that's a weird thing to do.  The most hate mail comes after I write or appear on TV about crimes on cruise ships or in ports of call. It's the one subject that freaks travel agents out.      

It's easy to spot the cruise line shills because they leave their IP address when they comment. I can't tell who reads my blogs but if you leave a comment here's a secret - I can see the IP address of your server.  Its funny when an "anonymous" reader from Carnival or Royal Caribbean flames me (yes it happens).  I know that I am on target.  

Negative emails to me outnumber positive ones by a 3 to 1 ratio.  Few people write just to say "good job, have a nice day."  I find that many people in life are primarily motivated by anger when their interests are being challenged. If someone is going to take the time to write me, they are usually angry about something I wrote or said about their cruise line or their business of selling cruises.  They are going to let me know about it.    

But today I read a nice article about my blog from the cruise blog "Ship Detective - Cruise Travel News & Commentary."  I don't know the people at this blog. But they seem to understand the point of Cruise Law News better than anyone else: 

"I don’t always agree with Mr. Walker’s views but of course that’s not the point. Cruise Law News highlights passenger safety and reminds us of the realities of cruising."

Thanks Ship Detective.  You have precisely articulated the purpose of my little blog. For that I am appreciative.

 

Here's the article: 

"As much as I avoid listening to attorneys who advertise or promote themselves publicly, I did subscribe to the Cruise Law News feed, published by Jim Walker, a maritime attorney based in Miami. I didn’t want to like this guy, Jim Walker, and in my mind labeled him an opportunist lawyer in-search-of business.

Now I’m feeling a bit of shame for not giving Mr. Walker the benefit of the doubt, instead slapping a negative label on him as a guy who wanted to dramatize every maritime incident just to stir the pot. After a few months of reading his posts, I found Mr. Walker to be level-headed, even-tempered and he encourages cruise ship passengers to question authority. The commentary is informative, sometimes dramatic, and applicable to the culture of cruising - something we highlight considerably on our website. I don’t always agree with Mr. Walker’s views but of course that’s not the point. Cruise Law News highlights passenger safety and reminds us of the realities of cruising.

Thank you Mr. Walker for your valuable insight. Your posts keep track of all the legal goings-on in the cruise industry and helps me tremendously with my daily search for cruise news.

So readers, stay informed and check-out the Cruise Law News blog. Knowledge is power!

Happy Cruising!"

Cruise Law News Celebrates Two Year Anniversary

This month marks the two year anniversary of the first publication of Cruise Law News ("CLN").

My first blog was back on September 7, 2009.  Since then I have written around 700 blogs about all types of disturbing and weird things that happen on cruise ships.

As I predicted two years ago, cruise lines and travel agents cringe daily at the articles.  But hopefully, you have learned about issues that the cruise industry PR machine and the happy-go-lucky cruise fanatics don’t want you to know.  And hopefully you are safer in the process. 

In the past two years, the public has read over 1,300,000 pages of CLN.  My little blog is currently ranked as the 13th most popular law blog per the AVVO / Alexa ranking system, for what that's worth.  1,630 people have taken the time to leave a comment, some negative and some pro. 

I hope that you have enjoyed reading the blog as much as I have enjoyed writing it.  Here are some of my favorite articles over the last two years:

Most read article: Passenger Busted for Selling Drugs on Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas  The public can't resist a story about a drug dealer busted on a gay cruise aboard the world's largest cruise ship, National Inquirer anyone?

Most popular article: The Splendor Cruise Ship Fire - Three Reasons Why You Will Lose If You Sue Carnival  The blog was picked up by the Wall Street Journal, Fox News, the ABA Journal, South Business Law Journal, Gadling, Slate, the U.K.'s Guardian and others.  Everyone loves it when a Sex Machine - Adam Goldsteinpersonal injury lawyer tells the public not to sue following a cruise disaster . . .    

Most ironic articles:  Former Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Captain Dies of Legionnaire's Disease After Sailing on Liberty of the Seas and Cruise Passengers Attacked & Robbed in Antigua While Cruise and Tourism Officials Meet

Best article with the word "sex" in the title: Marketing "Sex at Sea" on Cruise Ships (includes my favorite photo of a cruise line executive, in bed with booze surrounded by women with the Royal Caribbean logo across their bikini tops??)

Most comments to an article:  Crew Member Overboard from Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas 

Second most comments to an article:  Another Overboard From A Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship? - Oasis of the Seas  

Most positive reaction to an article:  Royal Caribbean "Returns" to its Trademarked, Private Fantasy Island of Labadee® - While Haiti Suffers

Most negative reaction to an article:  Royal Caribbean "Returns" to its Trademarked, Private Fantasy Island of Labadee® - While Haiti Suffers

Splendor - carnival Cruise Fire Happiest article:  Three Happy Cruise Stories - Salvation, Generosity & Rebirth

Most inspiring article:  The Compelling Story of Jamie Barnett - Living Through the Loss

Saddest article:  More Caribbean Crime - Carnival Passenger Killed In St. Thomas

Most disturbing article: Neither Dead Nor Alive - The Faliva Family Remains In Limbo

Most bitter article: What Does BP, Al Qaeda and a Cruise Line Have In Common?  Unfortunately you have to lose a loved one before you can figure the answer out.

Scariest articles:  Passenger Indicted for Sexual Abuse of 13 Year Old Girl on Disney Wonder Cruise ShipCarnival Cruise Ship Bartender Arrested On Charges Of Raping 14 Year Old Passenger and Most Wanted Rape Suspect Arrested On Carnival Cruise Ship - Worked As Manager Of Onboard Hair Salon

Best social media articles: The Cruise Industry's Reputation - A Sinking Image and Travel Writers and the Ethics of Reporting Cruise News

Best series of articles:  Top 10 Reasons Not To Cruise  

Clelia II - Video - StormBest article the cruise lines don't want you to read:  "Cruise Ship Sickness" - Is Norovirus In The Food and Water? 

Most terrifying cruise video (over 326,000 views and counting!): The Clelia II Skirts Disaster Again in Antarctica

Best sports article:  Oysters, Dixie Beer & My New Orleans Saints

Best personal article:  Switching Sides And Finding Your Soul

Best article not read by the cruise industry: Ten Years of Cruise Ship Fires - Has the Cruise Industry Learned Anything? 

Thanks to my readers, friends, supporters, detractors and enemies for making Cruise Law News a success.

Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and my Cruise Law News facebook page

 

Bottom photo credit: Clelia II   Fiona Stewart/Garett McIntosh (via jonbowermaster.com)

Cruise Law News Goes Mobile

Yesterday I bought a Blackberry PlayBook.  Small and compact and new to the market, the PlayBook is supposed to compete with the iPad 2.  Its screen is only 3 and 1/2 by 6 inches.  It has everything on it.  I can blog, prepare legal pleadings, and email outside of the office.  The PlayBook also has a camera which takes crystal clear photos and video. 

This is the first blog I have written away from my office or home office.

I will be traveling on vacation with my family for the next three weeks and I wanted to be sure to have a notebook that was tethered to my Blackberry handheld and the office computers.  The PlayBook seems to be the right choice.  I tried the iPad 2 but it would not support my blogging platform.  The PlayBook works great.  I can use the touchscreen keypad or a larger wireless keypad. 

Even though I will be on the road for the next three weeks, there will be no interruption of Cruise Law News articles.  So please stay in touch.  If you know about an interesting issue involving the cruise industry, please contact me.  Let me turn your tip into a story that a hundred thousand people will read.

Cruise Law News - Blackberry PlayBook

Cruise Law Update from Miami - the Cruise Capital of the World

This past week has been an exciting period of time for the lawyers at Cruise Law.

Jamaica:

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 Jamaica - Cruise Ship - Crewmember - Maritime Lawyercruise 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 Jim Walker - Lisa O'Neill - Walker and O'Neill - Maritime Lawyers - Cruise Lawreported 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 Independence of the Seas - Explosion - Gibraltar - Oil Tank - North Molewhat 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 .  .  .     

 

Photo credits:

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)

Thanks For Visiting Cruise Law News

Cruise law News - CLN - Jim Walker LawyerThe month of November ended with a bang.  Readers of Cruise Law News (CLN) viewed over 68,000 pages of our blog in November alone, roughly three and one-half times the total population of my home town in Arkansas.  When I first started this blog a year ago, I barely had 5,000 pages readers a month.  Since then, our readership has exploded.  We have thousands of subscribers to our bog everyday, via RSS feed and email, and tens of thousands of regular readers. 

CLN reached two milestones this past month. One was reaching the top 10 most popular law blogs based on quantifiable criteria.   

The second milestone was being included in the Top 25 Cruise Vacation Influencers.  This is a ranking of websites and blogs which are considered "influential" in the world of cruising, again Cruise Law News - CLN - Jim Walker Blogbased on certain objective metrics.  CLN is currently no. 11, ahead of Princess Cruises, Holland America Lines and P & O Cruises.  The interesting thing about this list is that it primarily consists of cruise lines like Carnival (no. 1), Royal Caribbean (no. 5) and NCL (no. 10) or travel agents like CruiseBuzz (no. 2) or BuyCruises (no. 3). 

Being the only true cruise critic in the top 25 reflects that the public is interested in information other than the propaganda spoon fed by the cruise lines.  We have many readers who are cruise line employees and crew members on ships who contact us regularly about problems they encounter and think should be made public.  Passenger and crew member safety and shipboard working conditions are issues of particular interest to our readers.  

The cruise industry may not agree with much of what we publish, but  the cruise Cruise Law News - CLN - Cruise Law Bloglines read CLN on a daily basis.  When a passenger or crew member "disappears" or there is suspicious circumstances surrounding a death, they know that we will cover the story and provide a forum for passengers and crew to leave comments about what really happened.  

If you are a regular reader of CLN or have left a comment on our blog over the past year, thanks!   We need your input to be able to continue to provide a glimpse into what the cruise lines don't want the public to know. 

Cruise Law's First Podcast - Thanks LexBlog!

I just had my first podcast which is featured on Kevin O'Keefe's Real Lawyers Have Blogs

The podcast was an interview of me by LexBlog's Colin O'Keefe entitled: Talk of the LexBlog Network : Jim Walker of Cruise Law News  Go to the link and then click on the play button if you want to hear me ramble on about blogging and cruise ship issues (Colin O"Keefe had to turn on the music to stop me talking . . . )

Here is the intro to the podcast by LexBlog:

"Plain and simple, Jim Walker's Cruise Law News is one of the best law blogs out there, along with being one of my favorites on the LexBlog Network.  Not only does Jim produce content at an incredible rate—356 posts in the 365 days after launching—but it's content that doesn't tiptoe around sensitive subjects.  In Jim's words, he set out to "talk straight about issues which make the cruise industry uncomfortable."  And what has this done? Just place him amongst the most popular law blogs in the United States. 

On this podcast we discuss how he developed this unique approach, setting aside time to blog, finding topics to blog about and how the coverage found on his blog compares to what's put forth by the mainstream media."

You can listen to the podcast here

 

Thanks to the O'Keefes for my first podcast and helping me with my blog for the past year! 

   

 

Cruise Law News Enters Top 20 of Popular Law Blogs

Several months ago, I predicted that Cruise Law News (CLN) would become a top 25 law blog by the end of the year.  Well, I was a bit off.  CLN is now the top 20th law blog overall per the popular Avvo / Alexa ranking system.  And its only October.

Wow .  .  .  Top 20!  I feel like I sneaked into the AP / UPI football poll, like Boise State before everyone figured out that they have always had a great football program (even if they are in Idaho where it is cold as hell after Thanksgiving).

To get here, I had to pass some super blogs:  Brian Cuba's great blog The Cuban Revolution which is ranked no. 76 and remains one of my favorites; Eric Turkewitz's New York Personal Injury Law Blog (no. 45); Carolyn Elefant's My Shingle (no. 38);  George Washington Law Professor Jonathan Turley's blog "Res Ipsa Loquitur (no. 28); the SCOTUS blog (no. 25) (what a terrible acronym for the Supreme Court of the United States - "SCOTUS" sounds like something you would touch only with a glove . . . ); and the terrifically talented but terribly shy Tax Girl (no. 24)(its almost impossible to find her name on her own blog). 

When I over-took one of my favorite cynics, OverLawyered (no. 21), I knew there was no looking back.     

O.K.  Enough about the blogs in my rear view mirror.  Who's next to fall?  Professor Becker and 7th Circuit Judge Posner's great Beckner Posner Blog (no. 18) will soon be toast.  And I will pass the Canadian cooperative law blog Slaw, at no. 17, shortly.

Does this sound a bit cocky?  I hope so.  A lack of confidence as a trial lawyer is a sign of weakness, especially in a major metropolitan market like Miami.  And whenever I shamlessly promote my blog like this, I know that the most popular blog is not necessarily the most influential or substantial blog.  Kevin O'Keefe of LexBlog wrote an article about not getting caught up in a popularity contest last year - "Engagement versus Vanity."  

My thought is that honking your own horn is just fine, as long as you are engaged and are writing insightful and relevant blogs. 

Another gratifying thing to me is that I have been blogging for only one year and the bloggers I passed have been at it for many years.   I'm sure that none of them have ever heard of CLN.

Cruise Law Weekend Roundup - October 15th

This was another interesting week in the strange world of cruise law news.

The week ended with a Miami jury awarding $2,900,000 in compensation for an injured Royal Caribbean crew member whose knee was butchered by a doctor in Nicaragua, which I mentioned in yesterday's blog.  The trial highlighted the cruise line's practice of keeping ill and injured crew members out of the U.S.

Jim Walker Cruise Law NewsAnother crew member committed suicide by jumping overboard at night.  This time it was a Carnival employee.  This is the fifth crew member suicide this year.  There have been four prior suicides by Royal Caribbean crew members in the past 10 months, on the Monarch of the Seas on January 1st, on the Radiance of the Seas on March 21st, on the Explorer of the Seas on May 5th, and on on the Oasis of the Seas on May 24th.  The cruise industry needs to study the issue of crew member depression given the requirement of working long hours everyday, every week, for months on end.   

Unlike the Royal Caribbean suicides, the Carnival tragedy was handled with great sensitivity by Cruise Director John Heald.

Royal Caribbean was named the worst of the world's major cruise lines for cuisine and service, according to the respected Berlitz "Complete Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships."

It was a rough week for Royal Caribbean, being recognized for bad medical treatment for the crew members and bad food and service for the passengers, not to mention the most crew member suicides this year.

The week also saw the usual maritime dramas,  200 passengers rescued from a burning ferry boat in the Baltic Sea, a passenger who disappeared from the Balmoral cruise ship in the English Channel, and another Coast Guard rescue of an ill passenger from a cruise ship.

We also wrote about the 25th year anniversary of cruise passenger Leon Klinghoffer killed by Palestinian terrorists on the Achille Lauro cruise ship.  Have the cruise lines taken sufficient steps over the past 25 years to protect passengers from terrorism?

Cruise Law News (CLN) created a facebook page.  77 fans in the first week.  Yea!  Fans can post comments, photos and even videos.  We hope you visit and leave a comment!

CLN continued to moved up the list of popular law blogs.  On the Avvo / Alexa list, we are now the 21st most popular law blog.  For U.S. readers, we are in the top five most popular blogs by lawyers who actually practice law (I'm excluding law professors who have all of the time in the world to write!)

CLN was selected as one of the best blogs in the LexBlog network on Thursday.  Thanks LexBlog.

CLN was also mentioned in Ohio lawyer  Russ Bensing's popular blog "The Briefcase" in an article entitled "Fun on the High Seas.  Russ writes "forget what he costs them in his lawsuits; his blog alone is a powerful disincentive to those contemplating a Caribbean cruise."   Hmm . . . didn't know I was so scarry.  But thanks Russ!

Be aware and be prepared.   Safe cruising!

Cruise Law News - A "Hard Hitting Blog"

Today, the Miami Daily Business Review ran an article about Royal Caribbean trying to disqualify our firm (a story I wrote about last week - more about that later).  The Business Review characterized Cruise Law News (CLN) as a "hard hitting blog." 

Launched in September 2009, CLN has become one of the most widely read legal blogs in the U.S.  Based on U.S. readership, CLN is now in the list of the top 7 most popular law blogs written by lawyers who actually practice law. 

Now I will be the first to admit that winning a popularity contest does not mean being the most insightful or the most influential blog.  There are a lot of law blogs competing for the "best" category, based on all types of subjective and non quantifiable criteria.  And there are lots of interesting law blogs which are written by professors like The Volokh Conspiracy, AlthouseLegal Insurrection, Jonathan Turley and Slaw which have blogged successfully for years. 

But when it comes to lawyers who actually take depositions, attend hearings, go to court and try cases, the list of most popular blogs is quite small.  Which legal blawgs involving actual practicing lawyers are the most popular?

According to "Avvo's Top Legal Blogs," which uses the Alexa ranking system, here are the 7 most popular law blogs operated by practicing lawyers, based on U.S. traffic (the lower the number, the higher the ranking):

26,700 - IPWatchdog by Gene Quinn (patent lawyer); 

38,100  - Cruise Law News by me;

44,903 - Simple Justice by Scott Greenfield (criminal defense); 

59,782 - Mortgage Fraud Blog by Rachel Dollar (bank / transactional litigation);

77,300 - Tax Girl by Kelly Phillips Erb (tax attorney);

110,257 - China Law Blog by Dan Harris (international law); and

136,029 - Legal Juice by Mesirow & Stravitz (personal injury lawyers). 

When I launched the blog one year ago, I promised that I would talk straight about issues which make the cruise industry uncomfortable.  So Its reaffirming for a local business newspaper to call CLN "hard hitting." 

Sounds like bragging?  You bet.  This is Miami after all.  A lack of confidence in a city of over-achieving-caffeine-addicted-ego-maniacs gets you run over.  

And I don't intend to end up being road kill.

 

A "Hard Hitting Blog" was featured today on Best in Law Blogs : LexBlog Network : October 5, 2010  Thanks LexBlog!

Today

Today, legal marketing expert Paula Black featured me on her blog Law Marketing Results: A Big Congratulations - talking about Cruise Law News (CLN)'s one year anniversary.

Today, my blog CLN is ranked as the no. 1 blog regarding maritime law and no. 1 blog regarding personal injury law pursuant to the AVVO / Alexa ranking system.  Alexa ranks us as the 36th most popular law blog overall.  The ranking system is far from perfect and there are far better blogs than mine which are ranled below CLN, but it is fun to see the ranking of blogs. 

Today, we were retained by two Royal Caribbean crew members and a Carnival passenger in cruise line injury cases.  It is clear that the cruise lines are indifferent to caring about people injured on their cruise ships.  It is the reason we are in business of practicing maritime law.

Today, the settlement in the George Smith disappearance case was finally disclosed to the public, over 5 years following his tragic death.  You have not heard the last of this sad case.

Cruise Law News - One Year Anniversary!

On September 7, 2009, I launched my blog, Cruise Law News (CLN).  My goal was to be a leading source of news and legal commentary regarding the cruise industry.

Well, here we are, September 7, 2010, one year later.  What a year! 

My little blog is far more successful than I ever thought.  Yes, it has taken a lot of work - this is my 356th article in the last 365 days!  I have written about cruise ship rapes, sexual assaults of Cruise Law News - Jim Walker Law Blogchildren, arrest of peophiles, passenger disappearances, and cruise ship fires, groundings and sinkings.  Everything the cruise lines like to keep secret. 

From a quantitative perspective (per Alexa rankings), CLN is now ranked as the no. 1 maritime law blog in the U.S., the no. 2 law blog in Florida, the no. 2 personal injury blog in the U.S., and the 50th most popular law blog over-all in the U.S.  My websitegrader score is 99 (a grade I never received in school); there are 902 indexed pages of CLN on Google; and there are 48,230 inbound links.  I am averaging over 25,000 unique visitors a month, and my traffic is in the top 1.53% of all websites. 

And to add some icing to the cake, Cruise Law News is several times more popular that the official blog of the President of one of the major cruise line (Royal Caribbean) who writes from the "Nation Of Why Not?"  If you want transparent news, people know to come here to CLN rather than wade through the gobbledygook at the cruise line's corporate blog.  

Cruise Law News has been cited in the Chicago Sun-Times, the Bahamas Journal, Italy's "Chi l'ha Visto?" television show, Germany's Wunderwelt Wisen magazine, the popular on line cruise community CruiseCritic, South Florida Business Journal, Baltimore Sun, Bahamas Tribune, Sun Sentinel, Washington Post, and MSNBC. 

Cruise Law News - Maritime Law Blog Our real success comes from our everyday readers - crew members, passengers, travel agents, cruise haters and cruise lovers.  We have heard from people in Great Britain, France, Mauritania, India, Venezuela, Brazil, Italy, Croatia, Serbia, Canada and countries throughout the Caribbean islands.  Thanks for your questions and the valuable information you provided us!    

One big thank you is in order.  Kevin O'Keefe and his team at LexBlog created my site a year ago.  They are the best in the law blog business.  Lexblog designed a nice looking, functional blog. 

They provided concise recommendations to me, and encouraged me to blog.  Thanks Kevin for creating LexBlog and pointing me in the right direction! 

 

Here are some highlights of the fun we have had over the last year:             

Most popular article:  Travel Writers and the Ethics of Reporting Cruise News

Most ironic article:  Former Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Captain Dies of Legionnaire's Disease After Sailing on Liberty of the Seas

Why-won't-the-Miami-Herald-cover-cruise-crimes article:  18 Passengers From Royal Caribbean & Disney Cruise Ships Robbed By Shotgun in the Bahamas

Royal Caribbean - Selling Sex at Sea Best article with the word "sex" in the title: Marketing "Sex at Sea" on Cruise Ships

Most comments to an article:  Crew Member Overboard from Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas 

Second most comments to an article:  Another Overboard From A Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship? - Oasis of the Seas  

Most positive reaction to an article:  Royal Caribbean "Returns" to its Trademarked, Private Fantasy Island of Labadee® - While Haiti Suffers

Most negative reaction to an article:  Royal Caribbean "Returns" to its Trademarked, Private Fantasy Island of Labadee® - While Haiti Suffers

Happiest article:  Three Happy Cruise Stories - Salvation, Generosity & Rebirth

Most inspiring article:  The Compelling Story of Jamie Barnett - Living Through the Loss

Saddest article:  More Caribbean Crime - Carnival Passenger Killed In St. Thomas

Most disturbing article: Neither Dead Nor Alive - The Faliva Family Remains In Limbo

Most bitter article: What Does BP, Al Qaeda and a Cruise Line Have In Common?  

Scariest articles:  Passenger Indicted for Sexual Abuse of 13 Year Old Girl on Disney Wonder Cruise Ship and Carnival Cruise Ship Bartender Arrested On Charges Of Raping 14 Year Old Passenger

Best social media article: Cruise Lines and Social Media - P & O Cruises Hits A Home Run

Best series of articles:  Top 10 Reasons Not To Cruise  

Best sports article:  Oysters, Dixie Beer & My New Orleans Saints

Best personal article:  Switching Sides And Finding Your Soul

 

Do you have suggestions on topics to cover for the next year?   Please let us hear from you in the comments below. 

Cruise Law News - The Most Popular Maritime Law Blog in the World

OK time to brag a bit.  Today my blog was added to Avvo's "Top Legal Blogs."  Cruise Law News is currently the 55th most popular law blog in the United States.  The blog has been the highest climbing law blog this year.  

For bloggers like me, that's exciting news.  Blogs are vehicles for education and ultimately social and political change.  The higher ranked a blog becomes, the greater the opportunity for it to be read.

Cruise Law News was launched just over 9 months ago.  So in the blog world, it's still a baby.  My  readers and subscribers have increased every month.  It is by far the the highest ranked blog, or Cruise Law News - Maritime Law Blog website for that matter, which covers maritime law.  I expect it to become a top 25 law blog by the end of the year.

My blog has been instrumental in educating the public about what really happens during cruises.  We publish the type of information that the cruise lines don't want you to know about. 

There are a number of blogs published by the cruise lines.  Royal Caribbean's president, Adam Goldstein, has a pretty popular blog called Why Not?  But it is 90% marketing PR.  Not surprisingly, it's also less popular than Cruise Law News.  Many more readers are coming to this blog to read articles about Royal Caribbean than to the cruise president's own site.    

An integral part of the blog are comments from passengers and crew members who are on the cruise ships.  For example, read the incredible comments about novovirus on Royal Caribbean's Jewel of the Seas, and a crew member lost overboard from the Oasis of the Seas.      

You won't find this type of information on any of the official cruise line blogs or websites. 

If you want happy talk and gobbledygook, subscribe to the "Why Not" blog.  But if you're interested in the inside word on what's really happening in the cruise industry - keep reading Cruise Law News.

 

Don't forget to subscribe by typing your email address in the box at the bottom left.  Or sign up for a RSS feed.  Thanks for your support!

"Danger On The Love Boat: Cruise Ship Crimes, Disappearances & Cover Ups"

For the past three years, I have written several hundreds of pages of stories about the cruise ship cases we have handled.  The cruise lines' skill, in engaging in an endless number of stunts and cover ups before judges and juries, our U.S. Congress and the American people, never ceases to amaze me. 

I have written these stories with an eye toward incorporating these experiences into a book about cruise ship crime.  We have represented over 70 victims of sexual assault on cruise ships.  Some cruise lines are nasty and other lines are even nastier regarding how they treat the victims.  A central focus of my writing has been the extraordinary steps taken by the cruise lines to keep the public from knowing the truth about what happens on the high seas. 

"Danger On The Love Boat - Cruise Ship Crimes, Disappearances, Cover Ups"®I have released tidbits of these stories as blog articles here on Cruise Law News ("CLN") to see if there is an interest.

So far, I have received a lot of encouragement.  Most recently, I received a nice recommendation via a #FollowFriday recommendation on Twitter from a very talented paralegal, Kristina Duncan, whose Twitter page is @legalninjaKris.  A reader to her blog made the following comment:

Mr. Walker’s series is a compelling presentation of cruising’s nasty underbelly.  It should be read by everyone considering a cruise, so they will be aware of the risks before signing a contract.  It is shocking to see how much support in law cruise operators have in defense of the outrageous behavior Mr. Walker documents.  There is an obvious need for serious legislation to deal with these issues.  I hope Mr. Walker will see his series titles as chapters in a much-needed book exposing cruise operator conduct to the American public.  Thank you for publicizing this informative series.

So with thanks to Ms. Duncan, I'll admit that a cruise book has been in the works for a while.  I have a commitment from a good publishing house. There are many stories that are not well known, yet.  Like the outrageous circumstances surrounding the "disappearance" of Italian crew member Angelo Faliva (photo above), as well as other equally disturbing crimes not yet revealed to the public.  The task now is to figure out which stories are the most compelling and to turn the manuscript over to the publishing company.  

I will donate 100% of the "profits" (if any) to a non-profit organization involved in cruise safety issues.  If no one buys a copy, I'll buy a 1,000 myself and pass them out to my friends and family - and then send the other 993 copies to whoever wants one!  

I hear that most publishing companies like to make the decision to name the books they publish.  We'll see if that happens.  I am struggling with the title.  I am thinking of: "Danger On The Love Boat: Cruise Ship Crimes, Disappearances & Cover Ups."®

The lawyers and support staff at Cruise Law don't like the title.  What so you think?

Contact me on the "Ask Jim A Question" box to the left, or leave a comment below, or call me at (305) 995-5300 with your thoughts.  I'll send a couple of free copies to anyone who can think of a good name for the book.

Thanks!  

 

Credits:       vascellor.it 

Cruise Law News Celebrates Its Six Month Anniversary

Six months ago, I launched Cruise Law News. My goal was to be the go-to source for breaking "cruise law" news with articles filled with with my own unabashed opinion regarding the cruise industry. 

The first month I had 964 people stumble upon the blog.  I was ecstatic!  Thirty people a day actually looked at my blog and took the time to read a few pages!

Since then, I have written feverishly - averaging over a blog a day - for six months.  My subscriptions have exploded and the number of people reading the blog has increased exponentially. 

Cruise Law - Cruise Law News - Jim Walker BlogOver 51,000 readers visited Cruise Law News last month alone.  We have been contacted by reporters from the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, Canada, and the Caribbean islands - as well as local and national newspapers and television networks in the U.S. 

One of the most rewarding things about the blog is that cruise passengers are now contacting us before they cruise - to inquire about the safety and security of their family on cruises, which cruise lines are safe and which cruise ships to avoid - rather than after they have been victimized.  Our blog is helping get the word out there about the issue of cruise crimes which most Americans know nothing about.  

I would like to think that the success of this blog is due to my hard work, getting up at 5:00 a.m. every morning to write, as well as my keen insight and biting commentary.  But, no.  That would not be true at all.  Its the cruise industry's incredible shenanigans which drive readers to Cruise Law News.

Just today, I commented on the unexpected and completely unjust end of an seven year ordeal involving the date-rape-drug-induced death of cruise passenger Dianne Brimble on a P & O cruise ship - juxtaposed against the revelation that Carnival teamed up with a corrupt brokerage firm which hired strippers for a swinger's cruise.

It's impossible to make this stuff up. 

So thanks to the cruise industry, with all of its shameless tax-avoiding executives, high paid lobbyists and deceptive PR firms, and its consistently ambiguous moral compass - for making my little blog a huge success.      

Stay tuned, the fun has just begun.  

 

 

Special thanks and credit:

Kevin O'Keefe and the pros at Lexblog - who created the blog and pointed me in the right direction.

Laurie Dishman - who fights the cruise industry every day with dignity, integrity, and relentless ferocity.  

Ken Carver - who started the fight for justice, led the way, and has never given up.

Cruise Law Clients - From All Over The World With Every Imaginable Problem

Local Miami news station WSVN - 7 News ran a story that a record 52,000 cruise passengers sailed to or from from Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale) on nine cruise ships today.

The news station reported that "travelers from around the globe arrived at the port to set sail and help break a world record." 

The story reminded me of the diversity of our law firm's clients and the wide variety of their problems. 

In the past few days, we were contacted by a passenger seriously injured on the Oasis of the Seas' flow-rider, another passenger who underwent surgery after a glass door shattered, several seriously injured crew members sent back to their home countries without medical treatment, and even a newly-wed couple abandoned at a port when the cruise ship left early without informing them.

The most heartbreaking story comes from a mother whose daughter was sexually abused by a crew member - a problem we have addressed in many prior articles.        

There is no doubt that the cruise industry is a juggernaut - big, rich and growing.  There also is no doubt that there remain fundamental problems on cruise ships - inadequate medical treatment, an indifference to the passengers and crew after they have been injured, and sexual predators who prey on children.

 

 

 

 

Credits:

Video         WVSN News 7 Miami

Cruise Ship Accident and Injury Lawyer

When cruise passengers are injured during cruises and require legal representation, the chances are that they will require a lawyer in South Florida.  Most cruise lines are based in either Miami or Fort Lauderdale.  These cruise lines include "forum selection" clauses in the passenger tickets which require that the passenger's lawsuit must be filed in Florida.  

So if the accident occurs on a cruise ship operated by Carnival, Celebrity, Norwegian, Oceania, Regent Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean, or Silversea cruise line, the passenger will have to find a lawyer here in Miami or Fort Lauderdale.  This is true regardless of where the passengers live,  Cruise Ship Accident and Injury Lawyer - Miami Florida where they boarded the cruise ship, where the cruise ship is going, or where the accident occurs.  

Many passengers searching for a lawyer on Google or Yahoo run across listings for a "cruise ship accident lawyer" or "cruise ship injury attorney."  There are many lawyers who list themselves as "cruise ship lawyers" but they actually have no education, training, or experience handling maritime cases in general or cruise line cases in particular.

Our firm handles cases only against cruise lines.  We know how the cruise lines defend cases involving injured passengers and crewmembers.  When considering hiring a lawyer to represent you or your family, ask the lawyer some basic questions (our answers follow):

Did you obtain an education in maritime law?  Yes.  I studied maritime law courses starting in 1980 from the best law school in the U.S. with a maritime law curriculum.  Tulane Law School - Admiralty and Maritime Law

Are you a member of any maritime law societies?  Yes.  I am a member of the Maritime Law Association of the United States (since 1984), the Admiralty Law Section of the American Association for Justice, Florida Admiralty Trial Lawyers Association, and Southeast Admiralty Law Institute.

Have you lectured maritime law students?  Yes.  Last week I was invited to speak before the Maritime Law Society of Stetson Law School, the oldest law school in Florida.  Cruise Law Visits Stetson College of Law to Discuss Crime on Cruise Ships

Have you handled cases against cruise lines before, and how many?  Yes.  Over 500, in the last 10 years alone.  We routinely handle cases against Carnival, Celebrity, Costa, Disney (Magical Cruise Company), Holland American Line, Norwegian, Princess, Royal Caribbean, Regent Seven Seas, and Silversea.

Have you or your clients appeared before U.S. Congress regarding issues of cruise ship safety?  Yes.  We have attended five Congressional hearings in Washington D.C. with six clients regarding issues of cruise line safety issues.   

Jim Walker - James Walker - Cruise Lawyer - Cruise Accident LawDo you handle only maritime cases?  Yes.  We handle only maritime cases involving accidents and injuries on cruise ships.  We have handled high profile cases involving cruise ship fires, collisions, and sinkings.  

The cases typically involve a cruise passenger slipping and breaking an ankle, knee, or hip on the cruise ship, an injury during a shore excursion, a passenger who is sexually assaulted during the cruise, or a crewmember who is injured during work.  Most cases where passengers and crewmembers are injured also involve issues of delayed or inappropriate medical treatment.  

Have you or your clients been featured in newspapers, documentaries, or on television news programs?  Yes.  Over 100 newspaper articles, law journals, and television programs have featured our firm and/or our cruise passenger clients.  

ABC, CBS, MSNBC, CNN, FOXNews, DATELINE, 48 HOURS, Larry King Live, A & E Investigative Reports, Hannity & Colmes, Greta Van Sustern, Nancy Grace, Inside Edition, Julie Banderas, Big Story Weekend, CourtTV, Catherine Crier, Montel Williams, Joe Scarborough, Rita Cosby, Mike & Juliet, Geraldo Rivera, Nancy Bloom, Dan Abrams, UK’s BBC-Radio 4, Heartland w/John Kasich, E!  Entertainment, TruTV, Canada’s CATV-5, Good Morning America, TIME Magazine, National Law Journal, RADAR Magazine, Lawyer’s Weekly USA, Miami Herald, American Law Media, Tradewinds, Fort Lauderdale’s Sun-Sentinel, Miami Business Review, LA Times, NY Times, Salt Lake Tribune, Florida Today, Daytona Beach Journal, Sacramento Bee, Washington Post, Greenwich Times, Greenwich Citizen, Greenwich Post, San Francisco Chronicle, St. Petersburg Times, Miami’s New Times, London’s Guardian, Edmonton Post, Chicago Sun-Times, Bahamas Journal, CruiseCritic, and the Associated Press have all covered our cruise line cases and our client's causes. 

Who are your clients?  Cruise passengers and crewmembers.  Most of our passenger clients are former cruise fanatics.  After being involved in an accident, they feel mistreated or neglected by the cruise staff and are often ignored once they return home from the cruise.  Most cases are not high profile cases, but simply involve an accident and questionable medical treatment on the cruise ship or in the port of call.  

Our cruise passenger clients come literally from all fifty states in the U.S.  Our crew clients contact us from around the world. 

Tulane Law School - Admiralty and Maritime Law

A lot of people ask me how I became involved practicing maritime law. 

Thirty years ago, I started law school at Tulane School of Law in New Orleans, Louisiana.  I may be biased, but Tulane has the best law school in the United States involving maritime studies. Tulane has a renowned "Admiralty and Maritime Law" program which is part of the Tulane Maritime Law Center.

Admiralty and Maritime Law - Tulane Law SchoolTulane is where I took my introductory maritime courses (Admiralty I and Admiralty II), maritime jurisdiction, maritime personal injury and death, maritime insurance and "offshore operations" -  a particularly excellent course addressing personal injury and death cases in the oil and gas industry in the Gulf of Mexico.

Tulane is the home of the Tulane Maritime Law Journal (previously called has the Maritime Lawyer) which is described in Wikipedia as the "preeminent student-edited law journal in the field of Admiralty and Maritime Law."  

The professors teaching the maritime law courses were excellent.  A professor named Thomas Schoenbaum taught the introductory maritime course.  He went on to write the famous maritime law hornbook - "Admiralty and Maritime Law."  A number of the maritime personal injury courses were taught by maritime lawyers, including the Honorable Eldon Fallon who was a well known personal injury lawyer and then became a highly respected Federal Court Judge in New Orleans.      

After graduating from Tulane law school, in 1983 I joined the Maritime Law Association. Since 1983, I have been practicing maritime law - mostly personal injury and death cases.  

I have a lot of fond memories of attending maritime law classes at Tulane.  Its hard to think that was three decades ago!  

Tulane also sponsors the Admiralty Law Institute every other year, which is always a good excuse to make a trip back to New Orleans.

You can follow Tulane's maritime program on Twitter @TulaneMaritime

Cruise Law Visits Stetson College of Law to Discuss Crime on Cruise Ships

Today we had the honor of being invited to speak to the maritime law society at Stetson University College of Law

Stetson Law Stetson has the oldest law school in Florida, founded in 1900.  Its campus is located on the beautiful Mediterranean style architecture campus in Gulfport, Florida.  

I discussed the topic "Crime on Cruise Ships," and explained the epidemic of cruise crimes on cruise ships over the past decade.   

Assisting me with the presentation was Caitlin Burke (bottom right), an intern at our firm.  Ms. Burke graduated from the University of Florida where she majored in Recreation, Parks and Sport Management.  Ms. Burke wrote a senior honor's thesis entitled a "Qualitative Study of Victimization and Legal Issues Relevant to Cruise Ships."  Caitlin was also a guest blogger last year when she authored Why Cruises are NOT the Best Vacations with Kids.

Stetson has a well established introductory maritime program and a well organized Maritime Law Society.  The event was well attended.  Assistant Professor Christine Cerniglia (bottom left) - who previously handled maritime litigation in New Orleans for several years - attended the power point presentation with her students.

In the past decade there have been hundreds of sexual assaults and unexplained disappearances of passengers and crew members from cruise ships.  The issue of the safety of passengers and crew has been highlighted by the International Cruise Victims organization and five Congressional Maritime Lawyer Jim Walker - Cruise Law - Crime on Cruise Shipshearings on cruise lines crimes in the past five years.

The students appeared interested in many of the issues we have discussed in prior articles on this blog:

The "disappearance" of Merrian Carver on the Celebrity Mercury cruise ship.

The death of cruise passenger Dianne Brimble.

The battle for safe cruises fought by Ken Carver and the International Cruise Victims organization.

The issue of crimes against children on cruise ships.

The disappearance of crew member Angelo Faliva.

We received a nice email from Ceara Riggsthe President f Stetson's Maritime Law Society, while we were driving back to Miami: 

"Thank you very much for driving all the way from Miami to speak at our meeting this afternoon! You had many interesting stories to share and your experiences really seemed to engage and captivate everyone in attendance.

It was very insightful to hear that even though we’re only law students, we can start making a difference.

It was especially beneficial to hear from Caitlin, as well, because she could share her own experiences and how she tries to make a difference in this industry. Thank you again and we hope you will be able to visit our campus again in the future!"

Thank you Stetson Law for inviting us!  We will be back . . . 

 Stetson Assistant Professor Christine Cerniglia - Caitlin Burke      

Lawyers USA Article Regarding Cruise Ship Litigation Features Firm, Clients & Friends

Lawyers USA (@LawyersUSA) just published an interesting article entitled  "Federal Cruise Ship Bill Pending in Congress but Plaintiff's Lawyers Say Measure doesn't Hold Water."  Written by Sylvia Hsieh, the article discusses what's new in the specialized field of cruise ship litigation. 

The article features our firm and our clients and friends.  

Cruise Crime

The article first mentions the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2009 which will require peep holes on passenger doors, technology for overboard passengers, mandatory reporting of shipboard crimes, and training for crime scene preservation in light of the large number of shipboard rapes on cruise ships. 

Firm client Laurie Dishman, friend Ken Carver, and the International Cruise Victims ("ICV") organization are credited for spearheading the legislation.  Ms. Dishman and Mr. Carver were victimized by cruise line giant Royal Caribbean in separate cruise incidents. Ms. Dishman was a victim of sexual assault on Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas cruise ship in 2006.  Mr. Carver's daughter Merrian disappeared in 2004 during a cruise aboard the Mercury, operated by Royal Caribbean's subsidiary Celebrity Cruises.

In both cases, the cruise line tried to cover the incidents up and treated Ms. Dishman and Mr. Carver dreadfully.  In response, Mr. Carver created the ICV which advocates safety for passengers on cruise ships.  Ms. Dishman is on the ICV's Board of Directors. 

The cruise safety bill should be voted on by the House of Representatives as early as next week. 

The article points out that the proposed legislation falls short in a number of areas.  The bill originally included an amendment to the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA), which currently deprives damages to family members of passengers or crew members who die in international waters.  I have written about DOHSA in a previous blog entitled "The Death on the High Seas Act - Screwing American Passengers for 89 Years." 

The cruise industry's trade organization Cruise Line International Association (@CruiseFacts) killed the amendment after spending millions of its tax-free-money to lobby Congress. The article refers to CLIA lawyer Michael Crye, who admits the cruise industry opposes amending DOHSA "but he could not provide a reason for the opposition."

This is typical of CLIA's lack of candor.  The cruise industry opposes amending DOHSA because families will finally be fairly compensated when a loved one is killed on a cruise.  Cruise lines simply wish to avoid paying the compensation.

The article quotes Los Angeles attorney Michael Ehline, a good friend of the firm, that foreign flagged cruise ships consider themselves to be countries unto themselves.

"Arbitration" of Crew Member Cases

A hot topic in the world of cruise law is arbitration of claims involving injured crew members, who comprise over 98% of the cruise industry shipboard work force. All cruise lines are now forcing crew members to pursue their claims in arbitration, where the crew members lose the right to a jury trial. Some cruise lines are requiring the arbitration to take place in either the country of the flag of the cruise ship or the crew member's home country.   

This is pretty much a joke, and some cruise line defense lawyers agree privately.  This is why the article states that "attorneys for Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruise Lines and Norwegian Cruise Lines did not return calls seeking comment for this article."  

The Court of Appeal for the 11th Circuit recently held that, in certain circumstances, cruise lines may compel the crew member to arbitration outside of the U.S.  However, they cannot take away all of the crew member's rights by trying to apply foreign law.

Injuries and Death of Cruise Passengers During Cruise Sponsored Excursions 

The article also addresses injuries to passengers during excursions.  The law requires cruise lines to exercise reasonable care in selecting shore excursions for its passengers.  Cruise lines are required to properly investigate whether the excursion companies have a good safety record and operate the excursions responsibly.

We have handed a wide variety of "excursion cases," including cases where passengers have been sexually assaulted ashore and even during snorkeling and diving excursions.

CLIA's lawyer Mr. Crye is quoted as gleefully saying that it is  a “difficult stretch to attempt to hold a cruise line liable for activity that occurs on an excursion operated by a different company in a foreign country.” However, cruise ships collect hundreds of millions of dollars promoting cruise excursions.  Cruise lines face accountability when dangerous excursions kill or seriously injure passengers.

The article also refers to cruise line lawyer Darren Friedman, a partner with Miami's Maltzman Foreman law firm, which represents numerous cruise lines. His firm defended Royal Caribbean in the high profile cases involving Ms. Dishman and Mr. Carver.

Whenever we see Mr. Friedman or his firm involved in a case, the cruise line is usually guilty as hell.