Florida Remains Cruise Ship Lawsuit Capital of the World

According to the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), more cruise passengers have sailed in Florida and around the world than ever before.

Last year, the number of passengers taking cruises on North American cruise lines increased approximately nearly 4 percent to 17,600,000.

6,150,000 passengers sailed from Florida, an increase of 1.3 percent to 6.15 million from the prior year. Miami saw more than 2 million cruise passengers boarding ships, and Fort Lauderdale saw Crew Ship Capital of the World more than 1,800,000 passengers.

Florida also remains the lawsuit capital of the world against cruise lines. 

Most cruise lines insist that lawsuits involving injuries to cruise passengers must be filed in Florida. Carnival, Celebrity, Disney, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, and Silversea Cruises require in their "forum selection clauses" that passengers file suit in this state of they are injured or a victim of a crime during the cruise.

It doesn't matter where the cruise departed from (a different state or even country), the passenger tickets of these cruise lines state that their guests must pursue their cases here in Florida.

Several years ago, the Miami Herald published an article "Lawyers Turn Cruise Lawsuits Into Industry." The article stated that between 2001 and 2006, over 2,100 lawsuits were filed against the Miami based cruise lines - Carnival, Celebrity, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean.

The article begins: 

"How many lawyers does it take to sue a cruise line?

Only one, or one too many if you're the cruise line.

The $25 billion-a-year cruising industry has faced more lawsuits than it cares to count over the past few decades -- some 2,100 in South Florida alone since 2001.

Many are filed by a small group of lawyers -- about 15 locally -- who specialize in representing injured cruise passengers and crew members and make up a thriving cottage industry in South Florida."

The article mentioned that I was one of the "big three" leading adversaries of cruise lines.

Cruise Ship Capital of the WorldI have not seen an analysis of lawsuits recently, but we know that the number of people cruising since 2006 has increased substantially.

The cruise ships have gotten bigger and bigger and the fleets have grown substantially.

There has also been an unprecedented number of cruise ship disasters which have plagued the cruise industry as of late. 

Every single day we receive a telephone call, or an email, or a Facebook inquiry, or a comment to this blog about a serious cruise ship injury.

In the last few days, we filed:

  • a lawsuit when a child from Mexico was seriously injured on the Flow Rider;
  • an arbitration claim on behalf of an Indian crew member (waiter) with a serious back injury who was denied appropriate medical care;
  • a lawsuit by a Canadian passenger whose finger was amputated by a cabin door which slammed shut due to a wind current from an open balcony door; and
  • an arbitration claim filed on behalf of a crew member who was denied medical treatment from the cruise line for advanced Hodgkin's Disease.      

Yes, most people have a fun time on a cruise vacation. But many passenger and crew members become seriously injured or denied appropriate medical treatment during cruises, particularly crew members from around the world.   

 

Have a thought? Please leave a comment below, or join the discussion on our Facebook page

Read: Cruise Ship Accident and Injury Law - Miami Florida - Forum Selection Clauses

Photo Credits:  Jim Walker

Cruise Law News Enjoys Record Month in April

Last month, 247,433 people read 843,370 pages of Cruise Law News (per Google Analytics). That's a record month for us.

If our readership continues to grow, as it has done over the years, we are on track to having 3,000,000 people reading over 10,000,000 pages of our blog a year.

Our blog is currently the number three most popular law blog in the U.S. (via Alexa) and the number one Royal Caribbean Cruise Norovirusmost popular law blog in the U.S. written by a practicing lawyer (again via Alexa).

The motto of our blog is "everything the cruise lines don't want you to know."  If you want idyllic images of perfect cruise ship vacations to tropical paradises, stick to the travel publications and cruise fan blogs. We offer a glimpse into the world of cruising that the cruise executives prefer you not know.

In the last year, we broke stories involving MSC Cruises dumping garbage bags at sea, Silvesea Cruises hiding carts of food from U.S. health inspectors, and Carnival scrapping its crew retirement program.  We provide an inside look at norovirus outbreaks that the cruise lines always blame on the passengers. This past week, our blog was featured in newspapers and on television in the Bahamas regarding the issue of crime against cruise passengers.

Thank you for reading our blog. Take a moment and subscribe by clicking on the RSS feed or sending us your e-mail address in the box to the lower left.

You can also follow the latest developments in the intersecting worlds of cruise ships and the practice of law on our Facebook page.

Thanks!

Cruise Law News Facebook Page Reaches 100,000 "Likes"

100000 Facebook LikesThis week, our social media presence reached a milestone. 

The Cruise Law News Facebook page reached 100,000 "likes."

The majority of our Facebook fans are from outside of the U.S. We have tens of thousands of crew members who have "liked" us. We receive a great deal of information from crew members regarding a wide range of issues, like cruise ship fires, engine failures, man-overboard situations and the tough working conditions which crew members face.

Thank you very much for reading our page and providing information to us!  Our success would not be possible without the support of crew members on cruise ships around the world!

We have over 11,900 people following us on Twitter and many thousands of people who subscribe to our daily blog, Cruise Law News, via e-mail & RSS subscriptions.

Over 6,250,000 pages of Cruise Law News are projected to be read this year.

We are the 3rd most popular law blog (per AVVO rankings) in the U.S. and the 2nd most popular cruise blog which discusses cruise ship issues (again, per AVVO rankings).  

Cruise Law NewsThe motto of our  blog is "everything the cruise lines don't want you to know."  

No, we are not a travel site with glossy photos of happy crew members and smiling passengers enjoying a dream vacation cruise. The fact that millions of people are reading a critical blog by a lawyer (lawyers often write boring, stuffy articles) reflects that there are a lot of things that happen on cruises which the public wants to know and the cruise lines want to keep secret. 

Thanks for reading us!  And thanks to the many passengers and crew members who have sent us tips, photos and videos of things like hiding food from the USPH inspectors or dumping garbage at sea which no one would otherwise know about . . .   

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. 

Danger on the High Seas - Royal Caribbean's Deadly FlowRider

Watch the video of the FlowRider at the top.  Looks like fun doesn't it?  The rider surfs on the water and never wipe-outs. Easy right?

Not at all. The person in the video is a skilled and experienced Royal Caribbean employee who has spent many hours riding the FlowRider.

Now take a look at the second video at the bottom when a novice tries to surf on the FlowRider. Beware, don't look if you can't stomach a gruesome accident. It's serious. "Ouch" is an understatement. 

The FlowRider is exceedingly dangerous. It has caused at least one death on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship and many broken bones.  

Royal Caribbean uses experienced, athletic crew members like the one on the video at top to ride the FlowRider while the passengers first embark on the Allure of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas and other cruise ships. This attracts the passengers to come back and make reservations for private lessons which can cost up to $480 an hour.  The FlowRider is a major money maker for the cruise line. 

Read about the FlowRider and holding Royal Caribbean responsible when cruise passengers are seriously injured on the cruise line's money making attraction:

Wipeout! Liability of Royal Caribbean Cruise Line for FlowRider Accidents     

  

30 Years Later, Miami Cruise Ship Lawyer Looks Back

Miami Cruise Ship LawyerOver thirty years ago, I graduated from Tulane School of Law which had, and still has, one of the best maritime law curriculum programs in the U.S. 

In law school, I took courses as a second and third year law school student in Maritime Personal Injury & Death, Maritime Jurisdiction, Maritime Insurance and Carriage of Goods by Sea. One of my favorite courses was called "Offshore Operations," which was essentially an advanced course in maritime personal injury dealing with accidents and injury in the oil & gas industry in the Gulf of Mexico.

That was back in New Orleans in 1983. Now over thirty years later in Miami, my law practice is 100% maritime personal injury and death lawsuits against the Miami based cruise lines.

The cruise lines have increasingly been in the news over the last ten years. And we have been in the news as well.  I have been referred to as a "Top Maritime Lawyer" by the ABA Journal; a "Top Cruise Lawyer" by USA Today; a "Prominent Private Practice Maritime Attorney" by Fox News; a "Premier Lawyer for Cruise Passengers" by Reuters; and a "Leading Miami Attorney" by Newsweek Magazine.

Stories about cruise ships are in the media every week. This year alone, I've appeared on CNN, ABC News, and NBC and quoted in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and the Miami Herald, to name just a few. 

The cases we handle are mostly against Carnival and its subsidiary brands (Carnival Cruise Lines, Cunard, Princess Cruises, Holland America Lines), Royal Caribbean Cruises (Royal Caribbean Miami Cruise Ship Lawyer Jim WalkerInternational, Celebrity Cruises & Azamara), Norwegian Cruise Lines, and Disney Cruises.

We represent both cruise passengers and crew members against the cruise lines. We handle cases involving serious injuries to passengers and crew on the high seas. Most of the injury cases involve bad medical care following the shipboard injury. Crew members are often sent home without receiving adequate medical treatment.

A focus of our law practice involves representing victims of cruise ship crimes, especially sexual assaults against women and children.

Many cruise ship passengers do not realize that they must file suit in the location specified in the cruise ticket, usually Miami. There is also a very short limitations period to file a lawsuit, typically only one year.

Fifteen years ago, I was interviewed about practicing cruise ship law. The issues raised 15 years ago still remain true today: Cruise Passenger Rights and Wrongs - Interview With Maritime Lawyer Jim Walker

Cruise Ship Law - Lawsuits Against Royal Caribbean Cruise Line in Miami, Florida

Our law firm handles cases on behalf of injured passengers and crew members against cruise lines.  Other law firms handle auto accidents, dog bite cases and whatever may walk in the door.  Our firm sues only cruise lines in cases involving serious injuries. That’s all that we do.

One of the cruise lines that we file lawsuits against on a regular basis is Royal Caribbean.

Types of Royal Caribbean Lawsuits:  The type of cases we handle against Royal Caribbean can be divided into two general categories – personal injury cases and crime cases.

Crime Lawsuits:  Most of the crime cases we have handled over the years involve sexual assaults on Royal Caribbean cruise ships.  We have represented women who have been sexually assaulted on cruises by cruise line ship doctors, security guards, waiters, bar tenders and cleaners. The rapes have occurred in the passenger cabins, utility closets, and crew bathrooms. 

The crimes are not limited to the cruise ships. Crimes against passengers have occurred during cruise sponsored excursions such as diving and snorkeling trips, sailing and catamaran outings, and in and around bars at the cruise port in the Caribbean and Mexico. We have represented parents whose minor children have been molested by Royal Caribbean crew members and teenagers who have been sexually assaulted by older passengers.

Injury Lawsuits:  Passengers on Royal Caribbean cruise ships have been seriously injured in a wide FlowRider Danger - Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship variety of cases.  Passengers occasionally slip and fall on slippery decks and floors and sustain serious injuries such as fractured ankles, knees and hips. Injuries on the cruise line’s wide variety of recreational attractions are common, including skating rinks and rock climbing attractions.  Injuries on the Royal Caribbean FlowRider surfing simulator are frequent.  Royal Caribbean passengers have sustained serious, permanent and debilitating injuries, and have even been killed, on the highly dangerous FlowRider. 

The FlowRider is a major money making attraction for Royal Caribbean, but it's unreasonably dangerous in my opinion.

You can read about FlowRider accidents and injuries here.

Types of Clients:  We represent cruise ship passengers and crew members. Most of the passengers we represent are from the United States. We have represented clients literally from across the United States. 

Our crew member clients, who sustain back, neck and wrist injuries due to the long hours and repetitive nature of their work, are typically from Jamaica, St. Vincent, India, Argentina, Venezuela, Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia, among other countries. 

If you or a family member have been seriously injured due to the negligence of Royal Caribbean, consider hiring a law firm which focuses its experience and resources on cruise ship lawsuits – not auto accident or dog bite cases.

Call our office at (305) 995 5300 or email me at jim@cruiselaw.com. 

 

Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean FlowRider Sign - Jim Walker

NBC News Discusses Cruise Ship Crime Statistics and Overboard Passengers

Today a local NBC station in South Florida posted a video of the recent disclosure of cruise ship crime statistics.

You can read the article here.

The video (below) includes an interview with me about the provisions of the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act of 2010 (CVSSA) which permitted cruise ship crimes and man-overboard incidents to be concealed from the public. Only incidents which were reported to the FBI and then the FBI closed the investigation could be disclosed to the public.  

The cruise lines were successful in inserting language to this effect into the CVSSA in order to conceal the vast majority of alleged crimes and overboards from the public.

 

Miami Cruise Ship Injury Lawyer - Jim Walker

Injured on a cruise ship and looking to retain an experienced maritime lawyer? Consider Miami lawyer Jim Walker.  

Jim studied maritime case in law school in the early 1980's and has practiced maritime law for the past thirty years.  For the last fifteen years, Jim has focused his law practice exclusively on representing passengers and crew members injured on cruise ships. He has handled many hundreds of cases against cruise lines such as Carnival Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, and Royal Caribbean Cruises. 

There are lots of lawyers who advertise themselves as "cruise ship lawyers" on the internet, but who Jim Walker Cruise Ship Injury Lawyerhandle only a claim or two against a cruise line a year.

Jim handles only cases involving injuries on cruise ships sailing the high seas.  

Jim is a well known cruise ship safety advocate. He has attended seven hearings before the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives regarding issues of cruise passenger safety, sexual assault, disappearances of passengers at sea, crime, and cruise ship fires and collisions.  

The major press outlets routinely ask Jim for his perspective on cruise ship mishaps. This year alone, Jim has appeared in over 75 television, cable news & radio shows, newspaper articles, special programs & documentaries regarding cruise ship accidents, crimes and controversies.

This year CNN asked Jim to write an editorial about the state of the cruise industry: "What Cruise Lines Don't Want You to Know." 

Here's what people are saying about Jim:

"Top Maritime Lawyer" - ABA Journal.

"Top Cruise Lawyer" - USA Today.

"Prominent Private Practice Maritime Attorney" - Fox News.

"A Premier Lawyer for Cruise Passengers" - Reuters.

"Prominent Cruise Plaintiff Attorney" - Law.com (America Law Media).

"Leading Miami Attorney" - Newsweek Magazine

"Leading Maritime Lawyer in Miami" - Arizona Republic / USA Today

"An Outspoken and Candid Maritime Attorney Who has Represented Some of the Highest Profile Cruise Plaintiffs in History" - CruiseMates

"Internationally Renowned Maritime Lawyer and Cruise Safety Advocate" - Times of Malta

"Man For the Other Team" - International Shipping Publication Tradewinds.   

"Prominent Florida-Based Lawyer for Cruise Ship Passenger" - Staten Island Live.

"Leading U.S. Based Cruise Lawyer" - eTravel Blackboard (Australia)

If you were inured or assaulted on a cruise ship, don't hesitate to contact Jim:

jim@cruiselaw.com

305 995 5300

1 (800) 256-1518 (U.S. Toll Free)

Jim Walker Cruise Ship Injury Lawyer

Legal Rights of Crew Members Injured on Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships

Royal Caribbean Crew Member When injured Royal Caribbean crew members contact us, there are a few things that they usually say:

"The ship doctor would not take me seriously and just gave me Ibuprofen;"

"My supervisor told me that if I didn't want to work I would be sent home;"

"The company would not send me to a doctor in the Miami but sent me to Nassau instead;"

"The ship doctor would not authorize a MRI;"

"The company sent me home and I have no money;"

"The company sent me home and no medical treatment is arranged;" 

"I called my medical case manager and she didn't call me back;" and

"I emailed my medical case manager and she didn't email me back."

One of the problems which Royal Caribbean crew members face is that they are required to work excessive hours (12 hours or more) seven days a week all month long. Repetitive injuries to their back, neck and wrists are common. Complicating matters is that there is constant pressure to keep working. Stateroom attendants have to clean the 20 or so cabins assigned to them each and every day; a negative comment from a guest may be the kiss of death and result in a 10 year cabin attendant finding herself summarily dismissed from the cruise ship.  

The next problem is that there is very little actual diagnosis of crew members injuries taking place on cruise ships. Rather the focus is on giving pain relievers to the injured crew which just masks the problem and can result in the injury becoming worse.  Many crew members tell us that ship infirmaries Royal Caribbean Crew Member have baskets of Ibuprofen pills out at the nurse's station, not unlike a bowl of candy to eat.

And when the crew member can no longer work and gets sent home? In most cases, the cruise line has not scheduled any medical treatment. Nor has the company provided a check for the crew member's sick wages or living expenses.  

The crew medical personnel in the company's offices in Miami are understaffed. A single medical case manager may be required to handle over 150 crew member cases.  If you are a sick or injured Royal Caribbean crew member and feel that the company isn't paying attention to you, that's because it isn't.

Under the U.S. maritime law, cruise lines are required to provide you with prompt and adequate medical care on the cruise ship. Cruise lines like Royal Caribbean also have to provide full and complete "maintenance and cure" when a crew member is home on medical leave.

Over the last decade we have represented RCCL crew members from around the world. We are currently representing cleaners, waiters, assistant waiters, cooks, and cabin attendants from Jamaica, India, Guyana, Nicaragua, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, Canada, Mexico, Trinidad, St. Vincent, Peru and other countries.

If you were injured on a cruise ship operated by Royal Caribbean (or sister company Celebrity Cruises) due to an accident, over-work or bad medical care, and are frustrated by the way the cruise line is treating you - don't suffer alone.  We will be pleased to help you.

We will explain your rights and answer any questions you have.

Email me at jim@cruiselaw.com or call our office at 305 995 5300.

 

Photo Credit - Jim Walker with clients:

Top: RCCL cabin attendant from St. Vincent in Miami for medical treatment

Bottom: RCCL cook injured in galley / photo taken in front of Allure of the Seas in Jamaica

50,000 Facebook Fans Can't Be Wrong

This morning Cruise Law News hit a milestone when the 50,000th person "liked" our Facebook page.  

The motto of this blog is "everything the cruise lines don't want you to know." One of our main goals is to educate the public about dangers and problems on cruise ships that the cruise industry would like to keep secret. So it's exciting to see that many people become a fan of our Facebook page.  

We post most of our blogs on Facebook as well as links to other sites which write about newsworthy (and sometimes not so newsworthy) events in the crazy world of cruising.  Unlike our other social Cruise Law News Facebookmedia pages like Twitter which has almost exclusively a U.S. audience, our Facebook Cruise-Law-News page has primarily non-U.S. readers. 

Who are the top readers outside of the U.S.? In order they are from India, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Turkey, Croatia and Serbia, as well as many other countires.

Why the reference to "50,000 fans can't be wrong?" It's a take-off on the famous Elvis Presley album "50,000,000 Elvis fans can't be wrong."  (OK so I'm only 49,950,000 behind Elvis).

Thanks to everyone who like our Facebook page, read our articles, and leave comments! 

Lawsuits Arising Out of Triumph Fire Continue to be Filed Against Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Triumph LawsuitLawsuits continue to be filed against Carnival arising out of the fire-disabled Triumph cruise ship.

Passengers were subjected to disgusting conditions due to overflowing toilets and a lack of air-conditioning. We made a decision not to be involved in any lawsuits against Carnival in this case. Yes, many people were inconvenienced but most sustained no physical injury and certainly nothing permanent. Read our article: Carnival Triumph Cruise From Hell: Here Come the Lawsuits!  

Carnival offered a full discount, a future cruise credit, a waiver of charges for onboard purchases amd $500.  Crew members received nothing.

A copy of the lawsuit is below. It should make for interesting reading to scroll through the lawsuit and see the particular complaints made by these 17 passengers who decided to file suit in federal court in Dallas Texas.

The Carnival passenger ticket requires that all disputes like this must be filed in federal court in Miami.

 

Happy Birthday: Cruise Law Celebrates 4 Years on Twitter!

Today marks the 4th year Cruise Law has been on Twitter.  Check out our page here. Over 10,000 tweets and over 10,000 followers later, it has been a fun four years.  Tweeting is just micro-blogging in 140 characters and led me to create this blog Cruise Law News.

If you are not on Twitter you should be. It has led me to meet literally thousands of lawyers, travel agents, cruise industry people, journalists, travelers and crew members around the world.  Lots of news about the cruise industry breaks on Twitter before the mainstream media knows what's going on.

Speaking of social media, we have been busy in the world of cruise law news this year. The Carnival Triumph fire and the "ensuing cruise from hell" were the latest cruise fiascos which focused the world on the unregulated foreign-flagged cruise industry.

Jim Walker Cruise Law News BlogOur firm and this blog were featured in over fifty television, cable news, & radio shows and internet, magazine and newspaper articles. Take a look here at a listing of some here of the programs and articles.

Cruise Law News (CLN), now over 3 years old, remains a top 10 law blog in terms of popularity. It is currently ranked #9 per the Alexa popularity rankings. The 8 law blogs ahead of us consist of 6 blogs which are commercial sites or are run by law professors. There's only one other law blog operated by a full time lawyer (China Law Blog) ahead of us. So we are the #2 law blog in the U.S. and Canada written by a full time lawyer.

Last month in the 28 days of February, readers visited some 415,960 pages of this blog.  If we keep this pace up, we are approaching 5,000,000 page views a year!   

Our Facebook page is booming, with over 45,000 likes. It is by far the most popular page by a law firm on Facebook.   

Thanks for following us.  If you have a question or want us to cover a particular issue or story, contact me: jim@cruiselaw.com

Carnival Triumph Lawsuits - A Just Cause or a Money Grab?

On February 10th the Carnival Triumph's engine room caught fire fire and was quickly extinguished. No one was burned. No one choked and gasped for air. No one died. No family members mourned the loss of their loved ones or buried their dead.

Three weeks later there is a litigation frenzy with lawyers from New York to Miami to Mississippi suing Carnival for billions of dollars.

And you wonder why people hate lawyers.

Star Princess Cruise Ship FireDon't get me wrong.  I don't like the cruise lines. As a former National Transportation Safety Board chairman said, the cruise lines are an "outlaw industry" which suffers from "bad actors."

But suing Carnival if you are not physically injured or seriously sick is wrong, as I have said in other articles.  

There are a hoard of lawyers out there soliciting your business who will sue Carnival whether you have bothered to see a doctor or not.  Just Google "Triumph cruise lawyer" and see the long line of lawyers asking you to call them, such as:

"Carnival Triumph Lawsuit Attorney" - Video - New York lawyer asking for one billion dollars!

"Carnival Triumph Cruise Ship Lawyer" - Video - Florida lawyer who filed class action lawsuit.

What are these attorneys advocating?  None of these lawyers have ever gone to Congress advocating the rights of cruise passengers or crew members injured at sea. Is this just about money?

Contrast this latest Carnival fire on the Triumph with the last fire where a passenger was killed on the Carnival-owned Star Princess cruise ship (above right). Georgia resident Richard Liffridge died when he and his wife, Vicky, tried to crawl down a burning smoke filled hallway as the fire engulfed the ship.

Star Princess Cruise Ship FireAs explained in the LA Times article "Cruise Industry's Dark Waters:"

"Victoria Liffridge recalled that she and her husband crawled along a passageway filled with thick, black smoke as flames shot above their heads. It was "like being in an oven," she said. The couple became separated. 'The last words I heard him say were, "Vicky, don't let me die, she said. Victoria Liffridge crawled to safety, only to be told later that her husband had not survived. When she identified his body it was covered in soot from head to toe."

Mr. Liffridge left behind his wife, four children and many grandchildren.   

We represented the Liffridge family. Richard's daughter, Lynnette, joined the International Cruise Victims organization and testified before Congress regarding the cruise ship fire. She demanded changes to protect future cruisers. She later boarded the same cruise ship where her father died and made certain that the ship was retrofitted with sprinkler systems and heat detectors which were lacking from the ship's balconies where the fire started which killed her father.

Will anyone of the inconvenienced passengers on the Triumph call on their Congressional representatives and ask for a Congressional hearing about cruise ship safety like Lynnette did?  Will anyone travel to Washington D.C. at their own expense to hold the cruise lines accountable?  Will anyone demand changes on the cruise ships to protect the public?  Will anyone work behind the scenes and board the Triumph and see with-their-own-eyes if anything has been done to ensure the safety of the next families who will cruise on the ship?

Or is this just a lawsuit money-grab for a few thousand dollars and a free Carnival cruise? 

Cruise Ship Fire

Leave a comment on our Facebook page.

Triumph Fire: Here Comes the Lawsuits! (Part 2): Miami Firm Files Class Action Lawsuit

Go big or stay home, so the saying goes.  

This weekend there have been several articles discussing the two lawsuits filed last Friday against Carnival arising out of the Carnival Triumph "cruise from hell."   I have thrown in my two cents in television & radio appearances and in a number of local and national newspapers. Bottom line:

Unless you have a serious physical injury or physical illness, families on the disabled cruise ship face an uphill climb proceeding with a lawsuit against Carnival for the inconvenience and unpleasant Carnival Triumph Class Action Lawsuitcircumstances they suffered last week.

You can read my blog today about the issue of whether to sue or not. 

But one law firm here in Miami is going for broke by filing a class action lawsuit today against Carnival.

The firm's press release contains links to an appearance of one lawyer on Fox and another lawyer on CNN, but contains no information about the cruise-passenger client on whose behalf the proposed class action was filed.

Lawyers working on contingency fees in Florida collect up to 40% of the gross recovery. Passengers thinking of trying to join in this attempt at a class action need to act smart. If you want to gamble with a big case, make certain that you accept for yourself the cruise fare reimbursements, waiver of expenses, free cruise voucher and $500 (which you can accept without waiving your rights).

Don't let any lawyer suck you into a class action boondoggle and take 40% of whatever has been offered to you already.     

Carnival Triumph Cruise From Hell: Here Come the Lawsuits!

Last Friday, the day the Carnival Triumph passengers were finally going home from the "cruise from hell," the first two lawsuits were filed.

The first case mentioned in the press was filed by a Texas lawyer representing a woman from Brazoria County Texas. I printed a copy from the court's online docket to read this weekend. The lawsuit alleges that the passenger was forced to "endure unbearable and horrendous odors on the filthy and disabled" cruise ship.  Because of the "sweltering temperatures, lack of power and air conditioning, lack of running water, and lack of toilets," the woman "feared for her life" and was threatened with Carnival Triumph Cruise Ship Fire"contracting serious illness by the raw sewage" filling the ship. 

The problem with allegations like these is that they are excluded by the terms and conditions of the ticket issued by the cruise line.

Experiencing psychological distress or being afraid of getting sick are not a basis for a lawsuit unless there is a physical injury or actual physical illness.

The lady's lawyer later told the press that his client had a fever and felt nauseous, but notably lacking from the lawsuit or the lawyer's comments were any mention of an actual illness diagnosed by a doctor.  This may be explained by the fact that the woman probably had not been to a doctor yet.        

The other lawsuit was filed on behalf of another Texan passenger by a lawyer here in Miami. As described by USA Today's Cruise Log, the lawsuit alleges that the 42 year old passenger suffered severe dehydration and bruising from aggressive food lines on the crippled ship. Her lawyer said she was so ill from the five-day ordeal that she had to be given intravenous fluids in an emergency room when she returned home to Houston. Severe dehydration may be sufficient to meet the physical injury requirements of the law but it is unknown whether this is just a temporary injury.

I have made my thoughts of litigation in cases like this well know.

Following the last "cruise from hell" engine room fire disaster in 2010 when the Carnival Splendor was stranded off the coast of Mexico and had to be towed back to the U.S., I wrote an article "Three Reasons Why You Will Lose If You Sue Carnival."  The same conclusions I reached two years ago apply to this latest Carnival debacle. 

It's not that I am unsympathetic to the people's plight. But I have represented clients who waved goodbye to family members at the dock and their loved ones either didn't return from the cruise or they returned in a body bag.   

If you are on a cruise ship that catches on fire on the high seas and you return with your family physically uninjured, count your blessings.

Cruise passengers returning from the Triumph need to rest, relax and start trying to recover from the stress.  They should go to a doctor and be checked out. Get your blood tested if you are afraid.  Send the medical bills to Carnival to Carnival to be reimbursed. But filing a lawsuit before going to a doctor puts the cart ahead of the horse. 

Let's hope that no one develops a truly serious and permanent illness from sloshing around in sewage for a week. If the feces and urine cause an innocent passenger to contract hepatitis or Legionnaires Disease or some other debilitating or deadly illness, then the afflicted passenger should sue the hell out of Carnival.

But inconvenience, aggravation, anger and being afraid of disease won't get you very far in a federal courtroom here in Miami.

Update: Triumph Fire:  Here Comes the Lawsuits! (Part 2): Miami Firm Files Class Action Lawsuit!

 

Photo Credit: Fox40

CNN Opinion: What Cruise Lines Don't Want You to Know

Today CNN asked me to write an opinion piece regarding the state of affairs of the cruise industry following the fire aboard the Carnival Triumph.  CNN permits only the first 150 words of the article to be published so here you go:

Editor's note: James M. Walker is a maritime lawyer and cruise safety advocate involved in cruise ship law and maritime litigation with his law firm, Walker and O'Neill. He has represented crew members and passengers against cruise lines, including Carnival and Royal Caribbean. Formerly, he worked as a lawyer for the cruise industry.

Carnival Cruise Ship Triumph - Cruise Fire (CNN) -- A Carnival cruise ship was adrift 150 miles off the coast of Mexico after an engine room fire. Cruise passengers were complaining about the lack of air conditioning, hot cabins, cold food and toilets that wouldn't flush.

As I watched the news broadcast, I thought it was a documentary about the Carnival Splendor, which suffered a disabling engine room fire in November 2010 off Mexico. But the story was about the Carnival Triumph, which caught fire early Sunday after sailing from Galveston, Texas, with more than 3,100 passengers.

The cruise industry says cruise ship fires are rare, but they are not rare. They happen with alarming frequency . . .  

Read the rest of the article here. 

Cruising, "Eh!" to Z! What Canadians Should Know Before Getting On-Board . . .

Danielle Gauer, JD Candidate 2013 University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law, joins us for another guest blog.  You can read about Danielle's background and read her first guest blog here. This blog is an interesting inside look at cruising for our friends north of the border:

More and more Canadians are looking for a way to escape the cold and snow during the winter months and instead catch some sun. Cruise ships seem like the perfect way to spend a family vacation offering passengers an experience similar to that of a five star all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean. With luxury travel, activities catered to the entire family, world class-cuisine and entertainment, and Canada Cruise Shipssome of the most fascinating ports of call, Canadians are hopping on-board these monster ships to enjoy the family vacation of their lives. However, with the move towards accommodating more passengers and offering more “risky” activities, such as rock-climbing and surf simulators, there is inevitably an increased possibility of catastrophe occurring.

When serious personal injury arises as a result of negligence on the part of the cruise line, it is imperative that Canadian cruise ship passengers know how to assert their rights and obtain compensation for their damages. Being injured on-board a cruise ship is frustrating. Injured passengers also experience physical, emotional and financial loss. In many situations, Canadians fear that taking legal action in the U.S. will be pointless. They can feel defeated at the outset. The choice not to advance their rights can stem simply from the perception that retaining a U.S. attorney can be expensive and time consuming. The thought of “competing” against a large corporate enterprise, that has equipped itself with a team of lawyers that have unlimited resources at their disposal, can be intimidating.

When Canadians pay for a vacation on a cruise ship, they also agree to certain contractual terms and conditions. Cruise ticket contracts generally include a “forum selection clause” stating where a lawsuit can be brought. This informs the passenger where they can file documents to commence legal action against the cruise line. Most cruise ship companies have inserted an exclusive foreign selection clause in their cruise ticket contract. What this means is that when signed, passengers have submitted to the jurisdiction chosen by the defendant cruise line, whether it is the State of Florida (Carnival and Royal Caribbean), California (Princess), or Washington (Holland America Line). This limits the plaintiff’s choice in selecting a location to file a lawsuit that is more convenient and close to home (i.e. in Canada).

Sometimes these ticket contracts may include clauses that place a limit on the types of lawsuits that a plaintiff can bring. Some of these conditions are valid and legally enforceable; other conditions are illegal and unenforceable. For example, Norwegian Cruise Lines has inserted a clause to limit its liability for injuries or damages resulting from participating in specific activities on-board (i.e. rock Canada Cruise Ship Passengersclimbing wall, ice skating, onboard water-slides). Royal Caribbean has similar conditions which attempt to protect the cruise line from lawsuits arising out of injuries from participating in flow-riding or zip-lining. These types of conditions have been struck down in Florida although the cruise lines still insert the illegal language in their passengers contracts.

Before commencing an action against a cruise line, Canadians must be aware of any clauses in the passenger ticket contract that can limit their claims. Canadian laws make it difficult to challenge forum selection clauses in cruise ship contracts, so Canadian plaintiffs should be fully aware of those challenges before contemplating litigation in Canada instead of the United States. Contacting a US attorney who specializes in cruise ship litigation will helpful as they will be fully equipped with the resources and knowledge to assert their client’s rights and allow a Canadian plaintiff to obtain the most accurate information regarding their claim.

Canadians should also realize that passengers have only one year to file suit, and most cruise lines require that the passenger notify them in writing of their intention to file suit within six months.  

Cruises can be very enjoyable, but Canadian passengers should be aware of their rights before getting on-board!

 

Photo credit: "Winter in Ottawa" - Danielle Gauer

No Jury Trial For Seriously Injured Dancer Aboard HAL's Oosterdam

Courthouse News Service reports on a case involving a crew member from Canada who was employed aboard a Holland America Line (HAL) cruise ship.

The Canadian crew member, employed on the Oosterdam cruise ship as a dancer, suffered a serious career-ending injury, but is being denied the right to take his case before a jury.

Courthouse News states that the case involves Anthony Yuzwa who was a talented dancer. He graduated from the Canadian College of Performing Arts, worked for the Burlington School of Dance, Oosterdam Cruise Ship - Holland america Lineand appeared on Canadian television. While performing on the Oosterdam earlier this year, a stage lift collapsed and crushed Yuzwa's right foot, resulting in the amputation of two of his toes and parts of others.

He filed suit against HAL as well as a company which hired him to work aboard the cruise ship. Under the General Maritime Law of the U.S. and the Jones Act which was enacted in 1920, injured crew members - even if they are not U.S. citizens - are permitted to bring their legal disputes before U.S. juries and seek a wide range of remedies against their maritime employers and the owner and operator of the vessel. The cruise lines, however, have increasingly been inserting terms in the employment contracts requiring crew members to submit their claims to "arbitration."

Arbitration is a procedure which strips crew members of their right to trial by jury.  Cruise lines prefer arbitration because they believe that compensation awarded to injured crew members will be substantially less and the chances of defeating the crew member will be substantially greater. Arbitration also limits the ability of crew members to engage in discovery of the cruise line's wrongdoing.

The defendants in Yuzwa"s lawsuit responded by moving to dismiss his law suit, which you can read here, and compel him to arbitrate his case in Canada without a jury.  HAL subsequently stipulated that the arbitration could take place in Los Angeles with U.S. law applying but without a jury.

The U.S. federal judge agreed with HAL's argument and compelled Yuzwa to attend arbitration rather than a jury trial. You can read the judge's decision here.

Injured crew members should anticipate that most cruise lines will respond to lawsuits by arguing that the cases should be decided through arbitration.

Although the arbitration awards may generally be considered to be lower than what could be obtained during jury trials, it may be possible to obtain significant compensation for significant injuries. Our firm obtained the highest award in an arbitration case on behalf of an injured crew member.  Read: Walker & O'Neill Featured in Top Verdicts and Settlements" for $1,250,000 Verdict for Injured Crewmember Against Royal Caribbean

You can read about the issue of arbitration of crew member cases in these articles:

Arbitration of Cruise Line Crewmember Cases

Lindo v. NCL: Crewmembers Lose Rights As Harsh Cruise Arbitration Decisions Continue

 

Photo credit: Sebastian Wessels / Wikipedia

Cruise Passenger Rights and Wrongs - Interview With Maritime Lawyer Jim Walker

Over 14 years ago, I was interviewed by Linda Coffman who has a very nice and exceedingly polite blog called CruiseDiva. Ms. Coffman's Twitter handle is @CruiseDiva

It was my first interview by anyone as best as I recall, long before I was interviewed on Larry King Live and Greta Van Sustern and the endless cable news talking heads.  I was a heck of a lot skinnier and had a nice head of hair 15 years ago. What the heck, 1,000 or so cases later, I certainly know a lot more now than I did then.

I have always felt a great appreciation to Ms. Coffman for the thoughtful interview well over a decade ago. I have added a few newer photographs, but the article is re-printed verbatim below:

CRUISES . . .  LIKE NO OTHER VACATION IN THE WORLD

Things that go bump in the night happen. And when they happen on a ship, the horror of the possibilities are heightened. Who would have paid to see the movie Titanic if the ship hadn't sunk? No one embarks on a cruise expecting the worst and no major cruise line purposely puts their guest and ships in danger, but the unexpected and unavoidable can occur during any voyage. In my travels, I've been rousted in the middle of the night by a fire alarm, spent the day at a Red Cross evacuation center, and suffered the indignity of Norovirus--all on dry land.

Cruise divaPerhaps the idyllic and carefree perception of cruise vacations is as much to blame as anything for passenger discontent when the slightest out-of-the-ordinary incident crops up. Cruise lines tout their products as 'simply the best' and 'like no other vacation on earth.' Are they telling the truth? Absolutely. It's true--the worst day on a cruise is better than any day on land. Unless, of course, your ship is on fire, the plumbing doesn't work, or you're dead in the water with a tropical storm fast approaching.  

No cruise line or ship's officers would purposely put their passengers and vessels in harms way. That simply wouldn't make sense. Often decisions to change course and skip a port are beyond their control, particularly when Mother Nature is calling the shots. And there are accidents. However, "unavoidable" is not much consolation to a cruising couple celebrating twenty-five years of marriage on the second honeymoon of a lifetime. 

Distracted by glamorous photos or dreams of moonlit walks on deck and midnight buffets, few passengers take the time to read the fine print, either in the cruise brochure or their ticket. Even if they do read it, the legal language can intimidate the average person.  

For an explanation of passengers' rights and assistance in translating the "contract of carriage" (cruise ticket), I turned to James M. Walker.  A specialist in maritime law, Mr. Walker is a member of the Miami Cruise Ship Lawyer - Miami Florida Maritime Law Association and serves on the Admiralty Law Committee of the Florida Bar. In addition to having the unique perspective of representing both cruise lines and passengers, he has handled cases for clients throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and South America.  

Mr. Walker graciously answered my questions, providing insight into passenger rights and what to do if things go terribly wrong on your vacation. 

How did you become involved in maritime law involving cruise ships? 

I grew up in a port city and our family traveled a lot. Our vacations seemed to revolve around the water - a trip down the Rhine, vacation in Malta, sailing in the Mediterranean Sea, and so on. I have always had an interest in the water. This turned into an interest in maritime law once I started law school at Tulane University, which has a pretty good maritime curriculum. Once I moved to Miami, rightfully called the “cruise ship capital of the world,” I joined a large firm which defended some of the larger cruise lines.  

Now that I am exclusively representing passengers and crew employees, I find myself traveling again on a regular basis. My practice provides me with the opportunity to travel to beautiful places like Vancouver and London, as well as small towns across the heartland of the United States, to meet with our clients.

What are your thoughts as a maritime lawyer regarding the collision involving the Norwegian Dream in the English Channel and the fire aboard Carnival’s Tropicale in the Gulf of Mexico some time back? 

These incidents raise important questions whether the cruise lines are devoting sufficient resources to protect passengers’ health and personal safety. Unfortunately, these mishaps are not isolated incidents. 

Cruise ship fireTake the fire aboard the Tropicale. Despite wide spread media coverage, few major news organizations reported the Tropicale’s prior problems which could be traced back to 1982 when a fire broke out during its inaugural cruise. 

Before the Tropicale fire, Carnival’s Ecstasy caught fire the previous year. Between those two incidents, the Sun Vista ignited off of the coast of Malaysia and 1,000 passengers found themselves in lifeboats in the Straits of Malacca. The video images of the Ecstasy on fire off of Miami Beach are hard to forget, but few people remember that the Ecstasy caught fire in 1996 as well. Carnival‘s experience with ship fires is not limited to the Tropicale or the Ecstasy. Remember the fire aboard Carnival’s Celebration in 1995 which forced 1,700 passengers to evacuate? All of this, and more, occurred in just four years.

Cruise ship fireAfter each incident of this type, the cruise lines immediately offer a reimbursement of some type and, perhaps, a free cruise. Inevitably, the story becomes old and everyone - including the cruise line - forgets about what happened, until the next collision, fire, or other mishap occurs.

A LOOK AT COMPENSATION

What do you think of the practice of some cruise lines offering free cruises to “compensate” for these type of mishaps?

It’s a good start, but is it adequate compensation? Lets look at the “cruise from hell” stories from the Tropicale. These passengers included families who brought their minor children aboard, couples honeymooning, or elderly citizens who used their limited savings for a relaxing vacation. Through no fault of their own, these nice people quickly found themselves in a nightmare - drifting in the Gulf of Mexico, nauseated, with a tropical storm approaching. Carnival’s offer of a full refund and a free cruise is a good idea, but is it adequate remuneration for their experiences? Does this reflect a greater commitment to safety, or just a more savvy public relations department?

The cruise lines are more likely to offer free cruises now than just a few years ago. Compare Carnival’s approach today with its attitude just a few years ago. In 1996, hundreds of passengers became sick and frightened when highs seas rocked the Tropicale as Hurricane Roxanne approached. 600 passengers signed a petition for a full refund. They believed that the captain threatened their safety by taking the cruise ship too close to the hurricane. Carnival responded with a $40 shipboard credit to make up for port charges on the missed ports in Grand Cayman and Cozumel. Does anyone really think this was sufficient compensation? Or was this just a public relations nightmare?       

Do you have any feel for how the passengers themselves regard these offers? 

Some passengers appreciate the “full-refund-plus-a-free-cruise” offer. But many people are not satisfied. The last thing they want to do is to step foot on a particular cruise ship again. 

Cruise law Of course, the debate of a “free cruise or not” ignores the real issue of passenger safety. The important question is whether the cruise industry is devoting adequate financial resources to make their fleet as safe as possible for families and their children. Things like state of the art sprinkler systems, sophisticated security monitoring, and vigorous background checks on their employees.

Remember, this industry earns literally billions each year in profits, and pays less than one percent in U.S. taxes by registering their vessels in Liberia and Panama. The notion that the traveling public should be happy with a free cruise and a tote bag trivializes the fundamental issue of protecting the precious lives and personal safety of millions of passengers every year.

What is the most common complaint you hear from a cruise passenger?

There are two general types of complaints. The first is what I call the “disappointed expectation” complaint. A passenger becomes disappointed because he or she feels that the service was poor, the weather was bad, their cabin had too much engine noise, or something like this. These type of complaints generally do not belong in a courtroom.

The second type of problem is when a passenger has been injured aboard the cruise ship, due to an accident, food poisoning, or an assault. The most common situation is when a passenger slips on a deck, trips on an elevated threshold, or falls down a flight of stairs. It happens on every cruise.

The most common complaint we hear is when a passenger writes to the cruise line regarding a particular problem, and does not receive a response after several months. Most passengers who contact us are not the least bit “lawsuit-minded.” Yet, they find themselves frustrated by the cruise line’s lack of response after they return home.

What are some of the interesting cases you have handled?

When we defended several of the cruise lines in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, we saw virtually every imaginable type of claim. Of course, with more than five million people sailing on cruises from U. S. ports each year - and everyone attempting to escape from reality - there are a lot of unrealized dreams which turn into strange lawsuits. Single women sue claiming that there were not enough single men aboard the cruise ship. The next week, single men sue claiming that there were not enough single women.

My favorite story involves an elderly widow from Miami Beach who loved to sail aboard from Miami at least three times a year. Unfortunately, she would trip or slip or fall every other cruise. She would file suit every year in December and then try to settle the case as soon as possible for at least two free cruises - first class no less. She still sends me a holiday greeting card every December. 

You would agree that there is no constitutional or absolute right to a perfect vacation or cruise?

True.

So what are the types of things which go wrong that are not the cruise line’s responsibility?

Most problems which fall into the “disappointed expectation” category are not the cruise maritime lawyerline’s legal responsibility. An example would be when cruise lines change the itinerary and the passengers miss a popular port.

The courts determine whether a cruise line is legally responsible to a passenger by reviewing the terms of the passenger ticket. I saw one judge literally pull out a magnifying glass to read the fine print buried in the ticket. The passenger invariably loses when this occurs, which is not surprising. The cruise lines have spent considerable effort drafting language which protects them from virtually every imaginable situation. The exception is when a passenger has been injured or assaulted - there is a federal statute which prohibits cruise lines from limiting their liability in these circumstances. However, this exception may not apply if the cruise ship does not call on a U.S. port. 

Cruise lines reserve the right to change their itineraries at their discretion. Do passengers have any right to compensation or a refund (other than port charges) if such a change is made?

No, based on the “fine print” in the ticket. For example, Royal Caribbean’s language says that it “may at any time and without prior notice cancel, advance, postpone or deviate from any scheduled sailing or port of call.” As a public relations gesture, some cruise lines offer $100 or so for missing a port. But this is dependent entirely on the cruise line; they hold all of the cards in these type of situations. 

Theft from staterooms is pretty uncommon on cruise ships, but if something disappears mysteriously from my cabin, what recourse do I have?      

Virtually none. Again, most tickets limit the cruise line’s liability for theft. Carnival excludes any liability for money, jewelry, or other valuables “left lying about the vessel or cabin.” This Cruise attorneyseems reasonable enough. But even if the cruise lines is negligent, there is a $100 limit of liability for lost valuables, and a $500 limit if the valuables are deposited in a safe-deposit box in the purser’s office and then lost or stolen. 

One reported case involved a passenger who reported the loss of several hundred thousands of dollars in jewelry. The court dismissed the case based on the language in the passenger’s ticket limiting the cruise line’s liability to $100. My only advice is to leave your priceless jewelry at home, or buy insurance before you sail. 
 
STEPS TO A RESOLUTION
 
Before seeking the assistance of an attorney, what steps should a passenger take to resolve a claim?

First, read your ticket and take steps to protect your rights! Passengers who are injured have to send a letter to the cruise lines within a short period, usually six months, advising the cruise line that they intend to seek compensation. Also, passengers have a very short period - usually only one year - in which to file suit when they have been injured. If they are one day late, they lose their right to seek compensation.    

When a passenger is injured on a cruise ship, what proof should they present to substantiate a claim for personal injury?

Of course, not all injuries are compensable. There are two issues to consider. The first issue is liability - it is the passenger’s burden to prove that the cruise line is legally responsible for the accident. The second issue is damages - medical expenses, lost wages, and other intangible losses caused by an injury. This issue is simple; keep receipts of all of your out-of-pocket expenses, insurance claims, and medical bills. Be sure to request your shipboard medical records before you disembark. The cruise lines will usually try to put you off the ship without them, but remember - these are records of your health, and you are absolutely entitled to obtain a copy before you leave. 

The most important issue is liability. A passenger will need proof that the cruise line was negligent. First, passengers have to establish that there was a danger aboard the ship, such as an unexpected step-down without any warning signs. Secondly, they must establish that cruise lawyerthe cruise line knew or should have known of the hazard, yet failed to correct the hazard or warn passengers of the danger. This is often quite difficult to establish.  

As a practical matter, passengers need to take photographs and video of the accident scene, take notes and document what occurred, and record the names and addresses of all witnesses. In seventeen years of practicing law, I have never seen a cruise line respond to a passenger’s complaint by saying “yes, we are responsible - sorry, here is your check.” Cruise lines are not in the business of giving away their money. You have to be prepared to fight for what you are entitled.   

What is the most important thing for a passenger to remember if they intend to seek compensation from a cruise line?  

Don’t forget the one year limitations period! Many cruise lines correspond, quite pleasantly, back and forth with passengers regarding their claims. They invite the passenger to submit medical reports. A month or two later, they request other documents, implying that additional information is necessary to evaluate the claim. The cruise lines never mention the one year limitations period, but they know that the clock is ticking away on the passenger’s rights. On the 365th day, when the limitations period has expired, they notify the passenger that the claim is barred. I cannot tell you how many times passengers contact us after the one year period has expired. The ball game is over! There is very little we can do at this point.

Could you explain what steps you take to negotiate a resolution between a passenger and a cruise line?

If we believe that the cruise line is at fault, our approach is always to send correspondence to the cruise line’s risk management department and attempt to establish a dialog.  

Cruise lawyerMany lawyers by-pass the negotiation stage and file suit immediately. This is not always in a passenger’s best interest. The passenger usually lives in a distant state or in Canada or Europe. All cruise lines require that the lawsuit must be filed in a certain city, such as Miami. The passengers will therefore have to travel to Miami to appear for a deposition and for trial. Over 90% of our clients live outside of Florida, and over 30% live abroad. It is expensive to travel to and from Miami, and these expenses usually cannot be recovered from the cruise line even if they are found responsible.     

We therefore try to make a good faith effort to present our client’s case efficiently, and to submit the medical documentation necessary for the cruise lines to make a reasonable offer without the necessity of a lawsuit. Certain cruise lines offer fair compensation in meritorious cases. Other companies play “hard ball” on every claim. They will not offer anything until the lawsuit is filed and the trial date is approaching.

When all else fails and a lawsuit is the last resort, how long can a passenger expect the process to take?

It depends from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In Florida, it can take a year to two years before the case is tried. Then there is the potential for another year if an appeal is taken. Patience is a desirable trait to develop.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

We hope that your readers have a safe and enjoyable cruise. 

 

Photo Credits 

Linda Coffman   Ms. Linda Coffman

Sun Vista cruise ship      Sun Vista "Were You There?" website

 

Jamaican Crew Members: Know Your Rights!

Today the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper published an article about our trip this week to Jamaica entitled "Know Your Rights!" The article is below:

"CRUISE-SHIP workers are being urged to empower themselves by obtaining knowledge about their rights to benefits from their employers.

Several cruise-ship workers turned up on Wednesday at the Hibiscus Lodge in Ocho Rios to speak to lawyers from Walker & O'Neill Maritime Lawyers based in Miami, Florida. The lawyers - James Walker, Lisa O'Neill and Jonathan Aronson - were in the island to meet persons who might have been injured or fallen ill while at work on a cruise ship and who need guidance or representation.

Jamaica Crew Member - Cruise LawyerWhile several persons were happy to have met the team of lawyers, there were those who left disappointed as the three-year period allowed for compensation had elapsed.

"Most of the crew members who work for the Miami-based cruise lines like Carnival, Royal Caribbean and others, to be honest with you, they don't know their legal rights because the cruise lines do not inform them of their legal rights," asserted lawyer James M. Walker.

"They don't understand, for example, that they have only three years to contact a lawyer to assert a claim to seek medical treatment, or benefits or compensation for their injuries."

One woman who worked on a cruise ship and got injured seven years ago was told of the three-year limit. She left disappointed. So too did two men who last worked for a cruise line six years ago.

Walker said these persons should have been informed of their rights.

"They should know that when they leave the company. When they leave the company on sick leave, they should be told you have only three years and if you don't assert your rights within that period of time you lose them forever. So we're here for educational purposes," Walker said.

Seeking Redress

Over a dozen persons were steered in the direction that they need to go to seek redress after being injured. While they shied away from speaking with The Gleaner for the most part, one man who turned up walking with the aid of a crutch, while refusing to give his name, told the newspaper: "I'm pleased with the service so far."

He left with instructions to return with additional documents he had left at home.

But the critical issue, Walker said, was for workers to know their rights. For example, Jamaican crew members on cruise ships are entitled to get medical treatment in the United States.

Cruise workers who need information may visit www.cruiselawnews.com, a site that offers news on rights of crew members. Walker is urging persons to visit the site and educate themselves."

Lessons Learned From Jamaica

Falmouth Jamaica   We returned to Miami from Jamaica last night after a three day trip where we visited crew member clients in Montego Bay, Falmouth and Ocho Rios. The weather was fantastic and the Jamaican people were warm and friendly, as usual. It is always delightful to travel to Montego Bay, which is an easy one and one-half hour flight from Miami.

Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas was in port when we visited Falmouth on Tuesday. The Freedom of the Seas and the Navigator of the Seas arrived on Wednesday morning. On these two days, over 10,000 people arrived on cruise ships from South Florida but you would never know it walking around the town.   

One of the problems we have witnessed with the "revitalization" of Falmouth is that the cruise line loads up its cruise passengers onto pre-booked and pre-paid excursion buses within the gates of the port and then sends them out of town to Ocho Rios or Dunn's River Falls.  We witnessed few passengers actually walking in to the town and buying souvenirs or eating in the local restaurants.

It would be quite easy to have the passengers board the buses at a central location in the town, say at the roundabout and then head off on their excursions. This way, they would be encouraged to shop in Falmouth, both before and after the bus excursions, as they walk to and from the cruise ships. But as matters now stand, the passengers are isolated from the local vendors in Falmouth. The cruise line Falmouth Jamaica  wants to capture as much of the passengers money as possible and seems to prefer that the passengers buy the goods and services offered by the cruise line sponsored vendors behind the fence erected between the ship and the local vendors.

Falmouth will never be truly revitalized until the cruise passengers turn into tourists who actually walk into and support the people of Falmouth.

In Ocho Rios, we met with approximately 50 crew members and former crew members working for Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Disney cruise lines. It was a record attendance for us. We met people who traveled from Negril, Port Antonio, Mandeville, and Kingston.   

We met in the famous "No Problem Room" at the Hibiscus Lodge.  I took a photo of my partners Lisa and Jonathan meeting with a client whose cruise ship related problems we helped solve.  

One of the most painful things we observed, and experienced, was when a crew member with a serious injury or medical ailment appeared at our meeting but had not contacted an attorney for four or five years. None of the crew members we met understood that there is a three year limitations for bringing claims against the cruise lines. Some of the men and women we met had worked for over two decades in the cruise industry and were left with serious injuries to their backs. Yet after returning home they did not understand that they had only three years to make a claim.

Most of the injured crew members we met have had no medical treatment arranged whatsoever by the cruise lines. Many were forced to pay for their own medical visits in the hope that the cruise line No Problem Room - Ocho Rio Jamaicawould reimburse them. All of this violates maritime law. Unlike U.S. passengers who if injured during a cruise receive great medical care back in their home states, the Jamaican crew members we meet invariably are still suffering with no medical care months and months after their shipboard accidents and injuries.

Jamaica remains a country where many cruise lines believe that they can send their injured crew members and then look the other way even after the employees served faithfully on cruise ships for over 20 years.  

 

Photo Credit: Jim Walker

Royal Caribbean & NCL Base Cruise Ships in New Orleans

Cruise Ships - New OrleansLast month, two cruise ships from Miami-based cruise lines arrived in New Orleans. NCL's Norwegian Star, with capacity for around 2,300 passengers, transitioned to the "Big Easy" and relieved the Norwegian Spirit which had been home-ported there.  

Royal Caribbean moved the Navigator of the Seas, a larger ship with a capacity of around 3,100 passengers, into the port of New Orleans where its Voyager of the Seas had been based.  

The cruise ships are based at the renovated Julia Street Terminal.  Both ships will be positioned in New Orleans for six months. 

The Port of New Orleans set a port record for cruise ship passengers for a two day period on November 17th to 18th when a total of almost 25,000 passengers arrived or departed on cruise ships. According to the Port of New Orleans, in 2011 736,908 passengers passed through the port. New Orleans is considered to be a "top 10" U.S. cruise port with 1,000,000 passengers expected by the end of this year. 

I lived in New Orleans from 1980 to 1987 before coming to Miami. I have warm memories of my time there at law school at Tulane and as a young lawyer.  During those years, the cruise industry was much smaller and there were no cruise ships based in New Orleans.  Now there are ships operated by NCL, Royal Caribbean and Carnival.  

One of the benefits of cruising out of New Orleans is the pre-cruise and post-cruise overnight stays in downtown New Orleans and the French Quarter. You can't beat the great food, the bars and late night cafe' au lait and beignets at Cafe du Monde.

I think it's time for Cruise Law to open up a maritime law office back in New Orleans!    

 

Photo Credit; AP / Andy Newman

Cruise Law to Visit Jamaica in December

Jamaica No Problem RoomThe lawyers here at Cruise Law are traveling again to Jamaica. We will be visiting our clients to see how they are doing. We will also make ourselves available to meet with any crew members (or their family members) who need to learn about the legal rights of cruise ship employees if they become ill or injured on cruise ships. 

Our team will be traveling to Montego Bay on Tuesday December 11, 2012 and will be available from December 11th through December 13th for consultation.  

On Wednesday December 12th from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM, we will be hosting a conference at the "Jamaica No Problem Room" in the beautiful Hibiscus Lodge in Ocho Rio. If you live in Ocho Rios or the Montego Bay area you of course know where that is. But if you don't, the address is 83 Main Street in Ocho Rios.

My partner Lisa O'Neill and co-counsel Jonathan Aronson will be will me.

The photo above was from our last visit to the famous "No Problem Room." We met a number of cruise ship employees from Jamaica whose problems we helped solve this year.

In the last two years, we have obtained over $3,000,000 (US $) in compensation and medical benefits for injured and ill Jamaican crew members. 

If the company has been unfair to you after you were injured on the cruise ship, or if you have medical problems like hypertension, diabetes. cancer or other illnesses which require treatment, please don't hesitate to contact us.

The flyer below has been posted on our facebook page.  We hope to see you in the "No Problem Room" in two weeks.   

Jamaican Crew Members - Miami Lawyers

Cruise Law News Facebook Page Reaches 25,000 "Likes"

A few minutes ago, Cruise Law News hit a milestone with the 25,000th person "liking" our page on facebook.

For the longest time, our involvement with social media involved mostly this blog and our feed on Twitter, CruiseLaw.  

What I have observed this year is that our Twitter feed (with over 10,000 followers) is largely followed by cruise passengers, travel agents and cruise line employees. Most of the people on Twitter who follow us reside in the U.S. In contrast, our facebook page is mostly "liked" by many thousands of crew members from around the world. We have made friends with lots of crew members from India, Cruise Law News - Cruise Ship Crew MembersRomania, Croatia, Serbia and Jamaica on facebook.   

The other thing that I have noticed is that crew members and other friends from outside the U.S. are far more likely to interact with us on facebook.  They leave comments on facebook. The people who read our articles and interact with us on facebook far outreach the number of people who socialize with us on twitter or contact us after subscribing to this blog.

For example, after a number of crew members went overboard from Royal Caribbean cruise ships a few months ago, I posted a couple of comments asking whether Royal Caribbean was working its crew members too hard.  One of the posts was read by over 350,000 people on facebook.  Another posting about the working conditions on Celebrity cruise ships was read by over 100,000 people. We also had many hundreds of comments to these articles, mostly by crew members who have first hand knowledge of what "ship life" is really like.

Crew members are the backbone of our law practice.  Yes we have assisted many hundreds of cruise passengers over the years. But the majority of our clients are crew members (like the crew member above from Trinidad).

Whether they are crew members or not, the biggest supporters of this blog reside outside of the U.S.  The last four people to "like" our page were "Raja" from India, "Natalija" from Croatia, "Novi" from Bosnia & Herzegovina, with "J.J." from South Africa being the 25,000th person to like our page. I have learned that the international community has a different perspective about things than Americans do. People outside the U.S. are far more sympathetic to the hard times many crew members face.  Most Americans, on the other hand, just want a nice cruise vacation. Long hours and low pay are not their concerns.   

Crew members often leave us messages on facebook, asking us for help or informal advice about their rights on cruise ships. Often crew members from places like India, Indonesia or the Caribbean islands have no one to turn to for information while working long contracts on the high seas far away from home. Problems with supervisors, long hours, bad medical care, prejudice & sexual harassment put crew members in a stressful situation. We are pleased to respond without any obligation. We hope that we can help you.

Our blog is read over a million times each year. Thanks for helping us spread the word on facebook. If you have information about working conditions on cruise ships and things that need fixing in the cruise industry, send us tips. We promise to maintain your confidentiality.  

If you are a cruise ship employee, thanks for "liking" us on facebook and reading this blog. If it is helpful to you, recommend us to a friend. Share our articles with your past or present crew member friends. Help us get the word out about "everything the cruise lines don't want you to know."  

Cruise Law News - The Most Popular Cruise Law and Maritime Personal Injury Blog in the U.S.

According to AVVO which ranks the popularity of law blogs, Cruise Law News (CLN) is currently the 9th most popular law blog in the U.S.  You can read the list (updated daily) here.  The list does not pretend to be a compilation of the "best" blogs.  It is based primarily on the number of readers and the number of pages read for each blog, if I understand correctly how AVVO works.

Of the eight blogs ahead of CLN, four of the blogs are written by law professors (Legal Insurrection, Althouse, Law Professors Blog Network, and the Volokh Conspiracy).  Three other blogs are commercial (accepting advertising) types (Lawyernomics, Above the Law, and Lawyerist). There is only one blog ahead of us which is written by a lawyer who actually practices law full time, China Blog,Cruise Law News Blog - Jim Walker - Miami Lawyer which is authored by Seattle attorney Dan Harris.  

That makes our blog the most widely read blog about our practice areas - cruise law and maritime personal injury law - in the U.S. Around 300,000 pages of CLN are read a month. We expect at the end of this year there to be well over 3,000,000 pages of CLN read just this year alone. 

Our Cruise Law News facebook page is the most popular facebook page for a lawyer and our Twitter feed is also popular. 

Being a widely read blog is admittedly a goal of CLN. The purpose of our blog is to educate the public about "everything cruise lines don't want you to know." There are a lot of problems, like sexual assault of women, molestation of children, and abuse of crew members, that cruise lines try and keep secret. 

Thanks for reading our blog, and thanks for sending us tips about things that happen on cruise ships which the Carnivals and Royal Caribbeans prefer the public not to know.

 

If you want to track the popularity of websites and blogs, download the Alexa toolbar.  Its simple and takes less than 30 seconds.

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

A couple of my friends on Twitter asked me about a maritime law blog in Miami which tweets under the Twitter handle @cruiseshiplaw. They were confused whether it was my blog, because it looked strikingly just like mine and had a similar name.

I clicked on the blog and, yes, it looks pretty much just like mine. A big white cruise ship in the upper right corner and the same blue theme.

Its a blog by my main competitor for cruise line clients. Very good lawyers no doubt.  But why rip off my design?  

IJim Walker Cruise Law News Blog - Miami Florida Law Blog have an approach in life and in my blog to give credit where credit is due. So when I write about maritime lawyers in Miami winning cases against the cruise lines I credit them by name.

But this blog not only copied my design but actually writes about our cases.  Look to the right and you can see the article "Carnival Cruise Lines May Be Liable For Child's Death." That's a precedent setting case against Carnival where we recently prevailed in the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal, which we wrote about earlier this month.

Ah another law firm sponging, mooching, free-loading and otherwise riding on our coattails.

No worries.

I suppose imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. 

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?

Lights, Camera, Action! Behind the Scenes of a Cruise Law Interview

Cruise Law - CNN Interview - Erin RogersOne of the things about being a maritime lawyer in Miami is that when a cruise ship catches on fire or sinks, the networks will come calling for you to appear on TV.  

The cruise lines usually run and hide until the drama is over.  But the Miami based maritime lawyers will appear on all of the major networks as well as CNN, MSNBC and FOX News.

I have been on TV more times than that I can count - Larry King a couple of times, Fox News' Sean Hannity, CNN's Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper & Erin Burnett, MSNBC, CNN Money, Court TV, ABC's 20 / 20, Nancy Grace, Dateline, Greta Van Sustern, Joe Scarborough, 48 Hours, and so forth and so on. There are a couple of other maritime lawyers in Miami who also appear regularly when things go wrong on cruise ships.

I suppose it's great publicity.  There you are on national television.  Wow, you must be smart or famous or important or something.  It looks very official.  There you are with the cable news logo behind you with your face on one side of a split screen with a big time television interviewer on the other side.

But the truth is a little different.  Unless you are actually on the production set across from the interviewer (like Larry King Live, which was great fun), you are usually being interviewed at a remote Cruise Law Interview - CNN - Erin Rogers location where you are stuffed into a little closet of a room with a microphone under your tie and an audio piece in your ear with a big camera pointing at you and a tiny TV monitor in front of you. 

Perched on a little uncomfortable seat staring at a 13 inch monitor trying to think of something intelligent to say to several million viewers is not always easy.  

It can be disorienting the first time you do a remote interview. There is an audio delay of several seconds between when you or the interviewer talk and when the voices are heard on television. So you run the risk of confusing yourself if you watch the monitor. There you are talking away but the monitor shows you just sitting there.  You have to understand that what you are watching is a couple of seconds behind real time.

I have to admit that I love it.  It comes naturally to me.  There is no shortage of cruise news and I have no shortage of opinions. 

But the production is all smoke and mirrors. 

So when you see me next time on TV, don't be impressed. Remember that I am sitting on a stool somewhere in a tiny room alone trying to hear the question through a crappy little plastic earpiece while looking at a tiny little TV screen.     

Jim Walker - CNN - Media Interview

Check out our media page here.

Have You Liked Us On Facebook Yet?

Cruise Law News has been on line since September 2009.  We have several thousand people who subscribed via e-mail, RSS or Google Reader.  A little over !0,000 people have followed us on Twitter over the last three years. Most of the subscribers and Twitter followers are from the U.S. with many travel agents, cruise planners, and regular cruisers reading the blog. 

But our readership has changed dramatically over the last several months. In June, I started posting information regularly on Cruise Law News' facebook page. I've added lots of stories and photos which are not in my blog.

Since June, over 13,000 people have liked us on facebook. The majority of the new readers are from Europe, South America and India. From Europe, we have seen an unprecedented number of people from Romania, Serbia and Croatia liking us. Many are crew members or former crew members.   We receive more comments to our face book page than on my blog.

If you haven't done so, consider going to our facebook page and clicking the like button.  Leave us a comment and give us your thoughts about our page.

Thanks for reading . . . 

 

Costa Concordia - Cruise Ship

Cruise Law - Coming to a Theater Near You!

People ask me why I practice "cruise law." My answer?  It's the most exciting type of law practice possible, like being in a movie - except it's the real world with real people.

Consider the news in the world of cruising this year. 

A showboating and debonair Italian captain runs a $500 million luxury cruise liner into the rocks.  He puts his blond girlfriend into one of the first lifeboats to safety. His officers announce on the PA system that "the situation is under control. Go back to your cabins." He abandons ship, claiming that his slipped and fell into a life boat. Passengers as young as 5 and as old as 70 then drown.

Cruise Law News - Cruise Ship DramaIf this were a movie, no one would believe such an outrageous script.        

Click on the TV and chances are you'll see Images of cruise ships adrift on the high seas. These are not rusting freighters from third world nations.  They are the cruise lines' best, biggest, safest and most technologically advanced cruise ships carrying the most precious cargo in the world - your families.

This year alone we've seen cruise line abandonment of mariners in distress, abuse of crew members, capsizing, collisions, conspiracy, cover-ups, crimes, disappearances, engine failures, fires, groundings, and union busting involving Azamara, Carnival, Costa, MSC, Norwegian, P & O Cruises, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Saga Cruises and many other cruise lines.

When a passenger or crew member is injured or a victim of crime on the high seas, the cruise lines are their worst enemy.  The deceit and double-dealing by the cruise lines are right out of a bad movie script.

I have written over a thousand articles about bad behavior of cruise ship over the last couple of years.

There will be no end of the stories in the future. 

Our firm is on the edge of the drama, always ready to help a cruise passenger in distress or a crew member needing medical care.  In an industry which cares most about it's own image and reputation rather than your family's health and safety, we are always eager to help the underdog.  In the process, we will expose "everything the cruise lines don't want you to know."    

Carnival Sued For Design Defects Alleged in Costa Concordia Cruise Ship

Following the Costa Concordia tragedy, there was considerable debate about where the survivors would file suit and what legal claims against the cruise line would be raised.

As we approach 6 months after the disaster, there is even more confusion. Lawsuits have been filed all over the place.  

A group of New York lawyers filed suit in state court here in Miami. Many Miami lawyers referred cases to Italian lawyers to pursue in Genoa, Italy where Costa is headquartered. Other New York lawyers filed suit in New York.  Lawyers in Illinois filed suit in Chicago. One lawyer filed suit in Galveston and Costa Concordia Cruise Ship - Design Defect Lawsuiteven took the extraordinary step of seizing a Carnival cruise ship to try and get Carnival's attention. 

The latest highly publicized court filing, announced last week, involves a case filed against Carnival Corporation for the defective design of the Costa Concordia.   

Mississippi lawyer John Arthur Eaves filed the lawsuit in California and alleges that the Concordia was designed in a manner that causes the cruise ship to "roll and list" and caused problems safely evacuating the vessel.  He intends to names the designers and architects in the lawsuit.

Mr. Eaves scheduled a press conference in Italy (see video below) and said:  

"We believe that the actions of Carnival were so calculated, to place the profits of their fleet, the ability to sell more space on each boat was so calculated a decision that they intentionally ignored safety concerns and for that we have asked the court for punitive damages in the United States which is the ability of a U.S. court to take away the profits by which Carnival gain. We thought it is not right for Carnival to make huge profits by doing the wrong thing." 

Mr. Eaves was the lawyer who filed suit in Galveston and was criticized for seizing a Carnival cruise ship "as a shot across the bow" to get the cruise line's attention.  I met Mr. Eaves in Washington D.C. during the Congressional hearings into the Concordia disaster. He seems like a bright lawyer and a good fellow who has a passionate interest into cruise ship safety issues. 

His "design defect" filing in California is another creative lawsuit seeking to hold Carnival responsible for the Concordia disaster.  His latest lawsuit has also come under criticism by the cruise industry defenders, but I think it is right on target.

Someone needs to take a look at these taller and taller cruise ships and determine whether they are safely designed.  A couple of months ago I wrote an article Are Cruise Ships Dangerously Top Heavy?  I'm not a naval architect but the cruise ships today seem to have far too much air draft, like a 17 story condominium stuck on a barge.

Cruise ships like this depend on stabilizers. But stabilizers are of no help when the cruise ship loses power.  Ships like this seem likely to tip over.   

It's the last place I would want my family to be if there is a collision, or a fire, or the engines fail in rough water. 

 

 

Photograph: News Pictures / Rex Features

Walker & O'Neill Featured in "Top Verdicts and Settlements" for $1,250,000 Verdict for Injured Crewmember Against Royal Caribbean

The Daily Business Review released "Top Verdicts & Settlements" for last year.  You can click on the digital version here.

We obtained the highest award in an admiralty / maritime case in Florida in 2011.  The case involved an injured crew member from Royal Caribbean's Jewel of the Seas who the cruise line sent back to Serbia and then denied her appropriate medical care and treatment.

We flew our client to Miami and arranged for her to see a board certified orthopedic surgeon who recommended surgery.  Royal Caribbean sent her to a local "litigation doctor" who never testifies that injured crewmembers need surgery.

The three arbitrators ruled that the cruise line failed to provide our client with a safe place to work and was 100% negligent for causing her accident.

The arbitrators also found that Royal Caribbean refused to provide prompt and adequate medical treatment to its injured cruise employee, and that its failure to authorize the necessary surgery "lacked any reasonable defense."

The arbitrators awarded our client $1,250,000, the highest amount in a crewmember case last year and the most ever in a cruise arbitration matter.      


Sexually Assaulted On A Cruise Ship? Call Cruise Law in Miami.

There has been a lot of news lately about cruise ship disasters, like ship fires, groundings and sinkings. But the most likely danger that a passenger, woman or child, faces during a cruise is rape.

Cruise ships are essentially floating cities.  Increasingly larger floating cities at that. Like any city, a cruise ship has crime.  Over the past decade the most likely crime on a cruise ship we have seen is rape.

Cruise lines deny that rapes occur frequently.  Just two days ago the cruise lines issued a PR release Cruise Ship Crime - Rape - Sexual Assaultstating that cruising is "absolutely safe." This is part of the problem.  The cruise lines are so motivated to portray an image of an "absolutely safe" vacation experience that they will go to great lengths to protect that marketing image, including cleaning crime scenes and covering the crimes up.

A decade ago, we obtained a confidential internal study (pursuant to a court order) in which one cruise line concluded that sexual crimes occurred "routinely" in its fleet of cruise ships.  It then embarked on a campaign of representing to the public that such crimes were "rare."

During a series of Congressional hearings several years ago, the same cruise line told Congress that it had 66 rapes over a period of 3 years, for an average of 22 rapes a year.  But during a court case, a trial court in Miami ordered the cruise to to produce its internal documents which revealed the truth - the cruise line actually 273 incidents of sexual assault, harassment and "inappropriate sexual touching."

All of the major cruise lines track sexual crimes and know that there are hundreds of incidents of sexual assault and battery each year during cruises.   

Walker & O'Neill maritime lawyers in Miami handle cases exclusively cases against cruise lines.

Our firm has handled many sexual assault cases and molestation cases involving against Carnival, Celebrity, Cunard, Norwegian, Princess and Royal Caribbean cruise lines.

In the cases we have handled, the shipboard rapes were committed by a wide variety of cruise employees - staff captain, ship doctor, chief engineer, hotel director, security guard, cabin attendant, bartender, cleaner, and child supervisor.  The sexual assaults occurred in various locations on the cruise ship, with the most common locations being the passenger cabin, storage room, and crew bathroom.  The most likely assailant?  A male cabin steward from a country outside of the U.S. where it is impossible to conduct a meaningful background check.

Don't expect the cruise lines to be your friend.  They will take the side of their employees every time. And for a number of reasons, law enforcement, especially the FBI, has a terrible record of prosecuting crimes which occur on the high seas.   

Jim Walker - Walker & O'Neill Maritime Lawyers - Cruise LawJim Walker and Lisa O'Neill are both cum laude graduates from Duke University where they met 34 years ago. Jim attended Tulane Law School in New Orleans and has practiced maritime law since 1983. Lisa was a member of law review at the University of Florida Law School and has practiced law since 1985.

Jim and Lisa have represented several sexual assault cruise victims who testified before our U.S. Congress.  These women were assaulted by a bartender, a part-time security guard and even a diving instructor during a cruise sponsored excursion.  

Examples of settlements for cruise ship rape and molestation we obtained include: over $3,000,000, $2,500,000, $1,500,000, $1,000,000, $900,000, $650,000, $500,000, $385,000 and $250,000. (All cases are different, depending on the facts.  These settlements may not be reflective of the reasonable compensation in your case).

Here are what people are saying about Jim:

"Top Maritime Lawyer" - ABA Journal.

"Top Cruise Lawyer" - USA Today.

"Prominent Private Practice Maritime Attorney" - Fox News.

"Prominent Cruise Plaintiff Attorney" - Law.com (America Law Media).

If you or your child were assaulted during a cruise, don't hire a lawyer who practices "cruise law" on a part time basis. Contact the Cruise Law attorneys in Miami and let us be your advocates.

If you have a situation to discuss, email us right away: jim@cruiselaw.com or call our toll free number for a free and confidential consultation: 1 800 256-1518.

 

Photo credits:  Carnival cruise ship at Government Cut, Miami - Jim Walker 

Injured On A Cruise Ship? Call Cruise Law in Miami.

Walker & O'Neill maritime lawyers in Miami handle cases exclusively cases against cruise lines.

Our firm has handled many high profile cases involving cruise ship fires, sexual assaults against women and children, and disappearances of passengers and crew around the world. We routinely represent passengers across the United States in serious injury cases, against Carnival, Celebrity, Disney, Holland America, Norwegian, Princess and Royal Caribbean cruise lines.

Jim Walker and Lisa O'Neill are both cum laude graduates from Duke University where they met 34 years ago.  Jim attended Tulane Law School in New Orleans and has practiced maritime law since 1983.  Lisa was a member of law review at the University of Florida Law School and has practiced law since 1985.

In the last couple months alone, the firm has appeared on numerous international television program and Walker and O'Neill Maritime Lawyers - Cruise Law Miami Floirda cruise documentaries.  Jim was featured on ABC's 20/20 special on the Costa Concordia disaster. He appeared on Australia's Dateline program "Lost at Sea" about passengers and crew members disappearing from cruise ships. Last month, Jim was featured on PBS's documentary "Disasters at Sea: Why Ships Sink" which looked at cruise disasters from the Titanic's sinking in 1912 to the current date.  Here are what people are saying about Jim: 

"Top Maritime Lawyer" - ABA Journal.

"Top Cruise Lawyer" - USA Today.

"Prominent Private Practice Maritime Attorney" - Fox News.

"Prominent Cruise Plaintiff Attorney" - Law.com (America Law Media)

In addition to a full time trial practice against cruise lines, the firm publishes this cruise law blog, which is the most popular maritime law and personal injury blog in the world (per AVVO / Alexa rankings). Cruise Law News ("Everything the Cruise Lines Don't Want You to Know") has been described as a "Hard-Hitting Blog" by Miami's Daily Business Review.  

If you or your family suffered a serious injury during a cruise, don't hire a lawyer who practices "cruise law" on a part time basis.  Contact the Cruise Law attorneys in Miami and let us be your advocates.  

If you have a situation to discuss, email us right away: jim@cruiselaw.com   

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)

Cruise Ship Disappearances Continue, Families Stay Vigilant

Fariba Amani - Missing - Cruise Ship DisappearanceA newspaper in Canada published a couple of interesting articles this weekend about a story that won't go away - the disappearance of passengers and crewmembers from cruise ships.

The Star newspaper published Families Search for Cruise Ship Passengers Lost at Sea which discusses the circumstances surrounding the disappearances of Canadian citizen Fariba Amani who vanished from the Celebration cruise ship as it was returning to Florida from the Bahamas.  Ms. Amani was cruising with her boyfriend, in what is described as a difficult relationship, who could offer no explanation for his girlfriend's disappearance at sea in the middle of the night.

The article also mentions the plight of Son Michael Pham, from Seattle, whose parents disappeared from a Carnival cruise ship in the Caribbean. Hue Pham, 71, and his wife, Hue Tran, 67, had been married 49 years and were with their daughter and granddaughter when they disappeared from the Carnival Cruise Line ship Destiny in 2005.

The article also touches upon the story of a woman, Arlene Pretty, who was drugged during a cruise aboard a Celebrity Cruises ship.  By the time she returned to her cabin, she was staggering. Within minutes her legs went numb and she couldn’t breathe. She was rushed to sick bay, where she was stabilized and where blood and urine samples were taken from her.

“The FBI refused on two requests to take the blood and urine samples and have them tested,” she says. “My samples are still on the ship, going to the Caribbean every 14 days, or they probably just got rid of them . . .   What happened to me was absolute hell,” says Pretty, who has been on 19 cruises. “I thought I was going to die."

Merrian Carver - Missing - Cruise Ship DisappearanceThe Star newspaper also published another article The Mystery Surrounding Two Cruise Ship Deaths

Merrian Carver disappeared while cruising on the Celebrity Mercury cruise ship. "Security on board these vessels is severely lacking," Kendall Carver, president of International Cruise Victims, is quoted as saying. His daughter, Merrian, went missing on a cruise ship sailing from Vancouver to Alaska in 2004, when she was 40.  Celebrity thereafter engaged in a cover up of the disappearance.

The other disappearance mentioned in the article involved George Smith, who vanished from Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Sea cruise ship in the Mediterranean in July 2005.  The Smith family and their counsel in Connecticut are continuing to search for answers.

All of the stories contain common themes -  indifference of the FBI, lack of cooperation by the cruise lines and families who continue to search for answers against all odds. 

Cruise Lines, FBI & Coast Guard Caught Altering Cruise Crime Law

NBC Bay Area reports that Congress is pointing the finger at the the FBI and the U.S. Coast Guard for watering down a cruise crime law on behalf of the cruise lines to make it easier for the cruise industry to withhold statistics about crime at sea from the American public.

The Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act of 2010 was intended to provide greater transparency regarding the number of cruise ship crimes which occur on cruise ships each year. The FBI has previously stated that over 400 serious crimes occur a year on cruise ships leaving U.S. ports.

However, last minute maneuvers by the FBI and Coast Guard on behalf of the cruise lines altered the bill so that only crimes "no longer under investigation” by the FBI would be reported in the public database.

Crimes not reported to the FBI, and therefore no longer under investigation, don't have to be disclosed to the public. This encourages the cruise lines to engage in cover-ups, which was the problem which the new law was intended to correct.

The result of the alteration of the law is that only a few crimes are reported to the public rather than the hundreds which actually occur.

Ken Carver, CEO of the International Cruise Victims Association, spent months trying to figure out how the bill was altered.  He learned that the Senator who introduced the law, John Kerry, agreed to permit the law to be altered.

Mr. Carver said he's disappointed that the agencies he’d worked with to make crime statistics more transparent are to blame for the radical changes to the cruise crime law.

"We do feel betrayed there has been a close relationship built up over the years between the Coast Guard, FBI and cruise lines," Carver said. "Why did they want to change it so that instead of working to protect the U.S. citizens it protected the cruise line industry?"  

 

  

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!"

Miami Lawyers Represent Cruise Passengers Sailing From Florida

The Miami Herald reports today that Florida's cruise ports are booming.

A report from the Florida Ports Council shows that Florida leads the nation in cruise operations.  13.5 million passengers embarked on cruises leaving Florida in 2011.  This figure accounts for 60 percent of all U.S. cruise embarkations. 

The combination of the Port of Miami, Port Everglades and Port Canaveral lead the nation in cruise passengers.  Cruise passengers also cruise from Tampa and Jacksonville.

The majority of these cruise are with Carnival, Celebrity, Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean cruises lines. All of these cruise lines require that any lawsuits or sexual assaults which occur on cruise ships be filed in Miami Florida.  All cruise lines have what are called "forum selection" clauses in the passenger tickets. The Miami based cruise lines like Carnival, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean list United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida as the only location where a lawsuit must be filed.    

The United States Supreme Court addressed this issue and held that forum clauses in Miami are enforceable. In Carnival Cruise Lines, Inc. v. Shute, 499 U.S. 585, 593-96, 111 S. Ct. 1522, l527-28, 113 L. Ed. 2d 622, 631-33 (1991), a passenger from Oregon was injured during a Carnival cruise which left a port in California which sailed to Mexico. The Supreme Court upheld the dismissal of the case which the passenger filed in Oregon.  

This year there have been several well publicized lawsuits filed against Carnival, Costa and Royal Caribbean filed in either Houston / Galveston or New York.  All of these lawsuits will be dismissed Jim Walker - Lisa O'Neill - Walker & O'Neill - Maritime Law Firm Miami Floridabecause they were filed in the wrong courthouse. Carnival and Royal Caribbean must be filed in federal court in Miami, and Costa cases (sailing from the US) must be filed in federal court in Ft. Lauderdale.

Our firm is one of the best known firms in the world representing passengers and crew members injured or the victims of crime on cruise ships sailing from Florida or other ports around the world.

Walker & O'Neill and their cruise clients have appeared in documentaries, television and radio programs and in newspapers about cruise accidents and crimes well over 100 times. Jim Walker and Lisa O'Neill are both cum laude graduates of Duke University. Jim graduated from Tulane law school in New Orleans. Lisa is a cum laude graduate from law school at the University of Florida where she was a member of law review.   They have combined experience of over 56 years.     

Coming Soon, My New Blog: "Maritime Lawyer"

After publishing Cruise Law News for the past two and one-half years, I decided to create a second blog: "Maritime Lawyer."   It will cover maritime issues and events which don't involve cruise ships.  I registered MaritimeLawyer.com long, long ago and will be using that domain for the new blog.

My friends at LexBlog are going to create and host the new blog. The LexBlog people created this blog. It has been far more successful and influential than I ever dreamed possible.  Per Alexa, Cruise Law News (CLN) is ranked number 12 in the U.S. / Canada in terms of popularity of law blogs. There is only one other law blog published by a practicing lawyer (another LexBlog client, China Law Blog) ahead of CLN in terms of popularity (for what that's worth).

Maritime Disasters: Cruise Ship Fires, Crashes, Collisions, CapsizingsThis year alone, CLN has been cited by a diverse group of media organizations, from tabloid bloggers like Perez Hilton to serious journalists like the reporters at the Wall Street Journal, PBS and Newsweek.  CLN has led me to appearing on CNN's Wolf Blitzer and Erin Burnett, ABC's 20/20, NOVA, BBC Radio and Australia's Dateline in just the last three months.  Our articles range from serious investigations into news the cruise line don't want you to know, to mundane legal issues about cruise law, to the bizarre, odd & weird things that happen on cruise ships.

My new blog will take a look into the larger world of maritime law of which cruise law is a small part.  If the story involves a cruise ship, you will find it on CLN.  But if a tugboat, tanker, trawler, bulk carrier, sailboat, yacht or fishing boat is involved, Maritime Lawyer will cover the story. 

I will be also posting my maritime articles on a new Maritime Lawyer facebook page.  This will be the first article posted on that new page.  I have 6 "likes" so far on the facebook page; pretty pitiful. Drop by, "like" us, and post a comment.

Let us know what type of maritime stories you want us to cover . . . .

Thanks!    

Who's Reading Cruise Law News?

One of the interesting things about having a website or blog is that it is easy to see how many people are clicking on your site and reading your stuff.

Google Analytics is an easy (and free) program that lets me see how many people visit Cruise Law News, how long they stay and how many pages they look at.  It interesting to see where the readers are based and what page they look at.  

The analytics program has been around for years. 

For the first four months of this year, 392,335 unique visitors have made 470,053 visits and looked at 1,385,586 pages.  The Costa Concordia disaster brought in a number of new readers. 

Costa Concordia Cruise DisasterAll types of statistics are available.  One of the more interesting statistics is how many people are reading Cruise Law News blog on a regular basis as opposed to randomly appearing from search engine results and quickly leaving.

22,904 people have read the blog 9 or more times in the last four months.  So I have a small town of people who are reading it over 2 times a month.  

The most interesting statistic is that 2,296 people have each read Cruise Law News over 200 times since the beginning of the year.  That's more than once a day for the past four month. Many leave comments or call or email me with tips for stories. 

I'd like to think that Cruise Law News is providing information and a perspective that you can't anywhere else.  Maybe, maybe not.  Our motto is "everything the cruise lines don't want you to know . . . " 

If you are a daily reader, take a moment and leave a comment about what you like (and dislike) about the blog. Are there topics about the cruise industry which I am overlooking?  Are there regular readers who would like to write a guest blog? 

Be sure to subscribe by entering your email address in the box at the left, or sign up for our RSS feed. Like our facebook page too.

Thanks for reading! 

Are Cruise Ships a Perfect Place to Commit Crimes?

Rebecca Coriam - Missing - Disney Wonder Cruise ShipFollowing the airing of "Lost at Sea" program on Australia's Dateline television program, a newspaper in Australia published a short article entitled: "Cruise Ships Perfect Ground for Predators - Investigation."

The Herald Sun mentions our firm and the case of Rebecca Coriam who disappeared from the Disney cruise ship Wonder.  The article also mentions case of members of the International Cruise Victims (ICV) organization:

"Criminals are more likely to get away with serious crimes on cruise ships than anywhere else, a maritime lawyer has warned, with 200 people vanishing at sea worldwide in the past decade.

Jim Walker said about half the disappearances have some factor of foul play.

"The place to get away with a crime is on a cruise ship,'' he told the SBS program Dateline.

"The place to be a sexual predator and prey on children is on a cruise ship."

"If you're a rapist, you're more likely to get away with committing the crime on a cruise ship on the high seas.

"All of this is happening out in international waters, typically.

"There are no policemen on the scene . . . You can't summons a police officer who will run onto the crime scene. So they're out there by themselves.'' 

In Australia, the death of Australian woman Dianne Brimble received widespread media coverage with Dianne Brimble - Cruise Ship Victimstrong criticism of the party culture that existed aboard cruise ships.

Ms Brimble died aboard a P&O Cruise ship of a drug overdose after consuming a date rape drug and is alleged to have received callous treatment from passengers she was with at the time of taking the drug.

Mr. Walker said the cruise industry knew it had a problem more than a decade ago and tried to fix it through slick advertising and marketing, rather than taking the hard steps they needed to really clean their act up.

"You have cabin attendants now who are being hired from Third World countries - no disrespect to small Caribbean islands - that have no databases.

"You can't track them even if you wanted to."

"You don't know what you're getting. But you're hiring a 28-year-old man to be responsible for 12-year-old girls' cabin.

"Mum and dad don't know what's happening. They're at the casino, they're at the show, they're up at the nightclub, and the cabin attendant gets back into the cabin - that's still happening. Those cases are still happening.''

While the cruise industry has followed some guidelines, such as installing peepholes in cabin doors, Dateline reporter Nick Lazaredes said few ships had upgraded their video systems or installed man-overboard alarm systems.

Those who have gone missing at sea include 23-year-old English woman Rebecca Coriam, who disappeared while working on the Disney Wonder cruise ship.

Her family was shocked to learn that there would be no US involvement in investigating her disappearance.

When the family of 20-year-old son Blake Kepley, who went missing on a family cruise to Alaska, Merrian Carver - Missing - Celebrity Cruisesrequested that the captain review footage from security cameras, they were told that wasn't possible.

Ken Carver's 40-year-old daughter, Merrian, also vanished off a Celebrity Cruises voyage to Alaska in 2004.

Mr Carver, who is now president of an activist group called International Cruise Victims, said he was stonewalled at every turn as he searched for answers to her disappearance.

The story eventually became the subject of five congressional hearings, which resulted in America's cruise, vessel and safety act.

The newspaper contained links to some of the more disturbing stories the cruise lines would prefer you not know about:

CBS: Woman Speaks Out About Cruise Ship Crime

BBC: Cruise Passengers 'Not Protected From Serious Crime'

Guardian: Rebecca Coriam - Lost at Sea

ABC (US): Cruise Cover-Up?

I am also posting the Dateline Special "Lost at Sea" in case you have not seen it yet:

 

Cruise Ship Accident Google Lawyers

I read an interesting article today about the high prices that some attorneys are paying to advertise on Google.  The paid ads, sometimes called "sponsored listings," appear at the top or the top right side of the Google search engine search results.

There are two types of search results on Google: (1) "organic" listings which rank sites based on the value of their content and popularity of the site, and (2) paid listings which list results based on how much the lawyers pay for certain words or phrases.

The article, "Lawyers Outspend Obama On The Web," discusses a study conducted by the Institute for Legal Reform for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  The study found that some lawyers are spending as much as $79 for a single "click-through" ad word.  When the sponsored ad is "clicked-on," the lawyer is charged the amount bid on for the word or phrase.   

Google Lawyer AdsSome 25 lawyers across the country are spending over $100,000 for Google click-through ads.  The report states that one law firm in Houston is paying $16,600,000 for Google ads.

The report also identifies one of our main competitors in Miami as most closely associated with the phrase "cruise ship assault" both via paid ads and search engine optimization.  Some other Miami attorneys are paying to advertise phrases on Google like "cruise rape," "cruise sexual assault" and so forth.

There is nothing wrong with Google ads, although we do not pay for any advertisements like this or any advertisements at all for that matter.   Our blog is strictly "organic" in nature, meaning that it is ranked solely on the relevancy and current status of the content, the number of sites which link to it and so forth.  Based on the Alexa/AVVO ranking system, Cruise Law News is a top ten most popular law blog in the U.S.  In the first two months this year, Cruise Law News had 289,530 visits and the visitors read 862,721 pages.

My only criticism about the concept of Google ads is that there are law firms which I have never heard of who probably have handled only a few cruise line cases at best.  Nonetheless, they are advertising themselves on Google as "cruise lawyers."  I call these lawyers "Google lawyers."  

I saw this happening after the Costa Concordia cruise ship crash.  All types of lawyers across the U.S. began billing themselves as "cruise ship accident lawyers" on paid Google ads.  An internet marketing company has an interesting article about what it calls ambulance chasing marketing

If you want to see where a law firm's website or blog is ranked based on objective criteria, download the Alexa toolbar here.  It's easy to install and will take less than 30 seconds.

If you are looking for a lawyer to handle a cruise ship case, don't be fooled by the top listings on the click-through Google ads.  Many of these lawyers are not even licensed to practice in Florida where most cases have to be filed. Be certain to inquire into how many cases they have actually handled and the success of those cases.  Be sure to ask to speak to former clients for their opinion on how their cruise line cases turned out.   

 

Image: Avalanche Internet Marketing

Costa Concordia Survivors Face February 12th Deadline!

There is a lot of talk in the media about so-called "class action" lawsuits, arising out of the Costa Concordia cruise disaster, seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation and other far fetched claims.  Most of these exaggerated claims are being made by lawyers who have absolutely no experience handling maritime claims.

What is not being discussed in the media is that the Costa Concordia survivors are facing a deadline as early as the end of this week. The deadline pertains to the passenger's claim for their lost luggage, clothing, electronics, jewelry and other personal effects.

According to the terms of the Costa Cruises passenger ticket, passengers must provide written notice to the company identified in the ticket for all claims other than physical or emotional injury, Costa Concordia Cruise Lawsuit Deadlinesillness or death within thirty (30) days of the incident.  Here is the pertinent language: 

" . . . The Carrier shall not be liable for any claims whatsoever, other than for physical or emotional injury, illness or death of the Passenger, unless written notice of the claim with full particulars is delivered to the Carrier or its duly authorized agent within thirty (30) days after the Passenger shall be landed from the Vessel, or in the case the voyage is abandoned within thirty (30) days thereafter.  No legal proceeding whatsoever, other than for personal injury, illness or death, shall be maintainable in any event unless filed within six (6) months after the Passenger shall be landed from the Vessel, or in the case the voyage is abandoned within six (6) months thereafter, and unless valid notice or service is effected upon the Carrier within 120 days after commencement of the proceeding."  (emphasis added) 

Thirty days from the January 13th incident is next Sunday, February 12th.  All passenger intending to make a claim for their personal belonging must send a  "written notice of the claim with full particulars" and deliver it to the carrier identified in the passenger ticket, or its duly authorized agent, within the next week.

If you don't send the notice in timely and to the correct company, the passengers risk not satisfying one of the "conditions precedent" necessary before a lawsuit can be filed.

The fact that Costa has offered 11,000 Euros (around $14,600) for a settlement does not extend a passenger's obligation to provide the required notice within 30 days.

The deadline again is Sunday, February 12, 2012. 

If you need assistance in sending the notice to the correct company and correct address, do not delay.  We will be pleased to assist you free of charge in sending the property damage notice in.

Our firm and our co-counsel, Glenn Holzberg, are also assisting about two dozen passengers who suffered physical and / or psychological injuries during the Costa Concordia disaster.

Unlike many non-maritime lawyers rushing to file suit in the U.S. (and are probably filing suit in the wrong jurisdiction), we are recommending patience to our client once they send in the necessary notices to the cruise line.  We will be negotiating directly with the cruise line to obtain fair compensation for those who have suffering emotional or physical injuries.  We are not charging a fee on any portion of the first $14,600 obtained by our clients.  All passengers are offered this amount and it would not be fair to obtain a percentage of what is already offered. 

Claims for emotional anguish and personal injury and death must be filed within one year, and require a notice letter being sent within 6 months.  

Claims for property losses must be filed in six (6) month for the date of the incident, after the aforementioned notice letter sent within 30 days.

If you are confused about whether to accept the Costa $14,600 offer, or need assistance preparing the correct forms, please send me an email jwalker@cruiselaw.com or give us a call.     

Are Lawyers Taking Costa Cruise Survivors Into Dangerous Legal Waters?

As rescue and recovery attempts continue to try and locate the bodies of passengers missing from the Costa Concordia disaster, law firms in the United States are moving forward to file class action lawsuits against Costa Cruises and its parent company, Carnival Corporation, in Miami, Florida.

One of the firms advertising for such cases and taking a high profile position is the New York firm of Proner & Proner.  On its page "Costa Concordia Passengers: We Are Here for You," the Proner firm states that it intends to seek "at least $160,000 on behalf of each of the passengers aboard Costa Concordia Class Action Lawsuit - Miaimithe ship at the time of the wreck. Those who were injured, as well as those with wrongful death claims, may be able to collect multiple times that amount." 

In a telephone interview with a local reporter in Miami, the Proner firm said it intends to represent passengers of "all nations" from "Peru to Shanghai."  It will be seeking to recover "millions" on behalf of the dead or missing passengers.  During the interview, the New York lawyer said a lawyer was flying to Miami to file the class action lawsuit and would include Carnival as a defendant.

Whoa Nellie!  Lets slow down and collect our thoughts for a second. 

Cases against cruise lines are governed by a specialized area of maritime law which is different than land based law.

The courts have applied maritime law to uphold certain contractual limitations set forth in the passenger ticket issued by the cruise lines.  These terms and conditions of the cruise passenger ticket are quite draconian in nature.  Take a minute and read one of our articles about this issue: Top 10 Shocking Clauses In Your Cruise Contract.

One of the most important contractual terms includes what is called a "forum selection clause."  This clause specifies where the lawsuit must be filed.  The cruise lines identify a location that it convenient for them and inconvenient for the passenger.  The location is usually where the cruise line is located, which gives the cruise line a home court advantage so to speak.  It is inconvenient, time consuming, and expensive for passengers injured during a cruise to travel to the location chosen by the cruise line to file suit.

The cruise lines have been successful in enforcing these type of clauses.  In the case of Shute v. Carnival, the United States Supreme Court required a passenger who lived in Oregon, and injured during a cruise from California to Mexico, to file suit here in Miami.  No the passenger terms and conditions are not fair, but they are routinely enforced.  

For the Concordia disaster, the Costa passenger ticket contains a clause specifying Genoa, Italy as the location for the lawsuit.  Most tickests issued by cruise lines based in Miami like Carnival and Royal Caribbean select Miami as the place where the lawsuit must be filed.  But Costa's ticket is different.  For Costa cruises which call on an U.S. port, the lawsuit has to be filed in Broward County in South Florida.  If the cruise itinerary does not include a U.S. port, the lawsuit must be filed in Italy.

Last year, we wrote about a similar situation.  In Seung v. Regent Seven Seas Cruises, a passenger was injured while cruising on the Paul Gauguin cruise ship, operated by Regent Seven Seas Cruises, in the Pacific Ocean.  After Ms. Seung filed suit in South Florida where the cruise line is based, the defense lawyers moved to dismiss the case arguing that the forum selection claim required the lawsuit to be brought in France.  The federal court here dismissed her case.  The 11th Circuit Court of Appeal affirmed the dismissal and held that the passenger, from California, had to travel to Paris to pursue her remedies.  Our article is entitled Cruise Forum Selection Clauses: Do You Speak French?

As soon as lawsuits are filed against Costa in this jurisdiction, the cruise line will move to dismiss the cases and will cite the Shute and Seung cases discussed above. 

The cruise line defense lawyers will argue that the lawsuits cannot be filed here.  The Costa company is incorporated in Italy and based in Genoa.  The cruise ship is flagged in Italy.  The disaster occurred in Italian waters.  The Italian Coast Guard responded.  The Italian authorities are investigating the cause of the crash and the casualties. The criminal proceedings are taking place in Italy.  The lawyers for the passengers will be hard pressed to explain why the cases should not be filed in Italy. 

The Costa cruise ticket has another curious twist.  It specifies that Italian law should apply.  For death cases, Italian law may actually provide for a more equitable remedy that the U.S. General Maritime Law and statutory law - particularly where the deceased passengers are retired. 

In the U.S., wrongful deaths on the "high seas" (non U.S, territorial waters, including territorial waters of other countries) are governed by a federal statute called the Death On The High Seas Act ("DOHSA").  There is no recovery under DOSHA for pre-death pain and suffering or emotional losses of the surviving family members such as grief and bereavement.  The only recovery is for financial losses such as lost wages of the decedent.   If the decedents are retired or children, then there are no recoverable damages except for burial and funeral expenses assuming the bodies are located. 

So if the wrongful death cases are filed in the U.S., and the court applies U.S. law, there may be no recovery in certain death cases.  Yet if the cases were filed in Italy, there could be recovery under Italian law.  A passenger could conceivably file suit in a more convenient forum in the U.S. yet receive no recovery; whereas if the passenger filed suit in a less convenient location in Italy there may be greater recovery in some cases.

Then there is the matter of Carnival.  Yes it is the parent company of Costa.  And yes, as the Proner lawyers mention to the news reporter, it collects over 14 and 1/2 billion dollars a year.  But  that does not automatically give anyone a basis to sue it in Miami every time one of its subsidiary company's cruise ships around the world suffer a casualty.  

There are often severe consequences of filing suit in the wrong location or against the wrong party, including the assessment of costs and in some circumstances attorney fees. 

We hope that the lawyers who are working faster than the recovery teams in Italy to file suit here in Miami know what they are doing and are not navigating their clients into dangerous legal waters. 

Cruise Law: Miami Cruise Ship Law Update

This weekend the cruise port in Fort Lauderdale, Florida broke a new record with the most cruise passengers entering or leaving the port.  The Sun Sentinel reports that around 106,000 passengers will transit through Port Everglades on 24 cruise ships.  Each day from Friday through Sunday will see 8 cruise ships return and then leave the port full of passengers.   

The newspaper suggested an interesting visual perspective: If lined up bow to stern, the cruise ships sailing through Port Everglades this weekend are as tall as 22 Eiffel Towers, or as long as Port Everglades Cruise Port - Cruise Law72 football fields . . .

The heavy port activity is the result of New Year / Holiday cruise ships returning to South Florida.  

Unfortunately not all of the cruises turned out to be safe experiences. 

Multiple sexual assaults occurred on the world's largest cruise ship, the Allure of the Seas, during a cruise over the New Year.  We discussed the alleged crimes in an article last Wednesday.  The alleged rapists were passengers from Brazil.  It is interesting to note that they were not arrested by the FBI but by the Broward Sheriff's Office.  Florida is the only state where the local police or sheriff officers can arrest and the state can prosecute crimes on the high seas.  In all other states, only the federal government can assert such jurisdiction.   

The alleged crime was finally reported by the Miami Herald yesterday and the newspaper mentioned our previous article.  It is good to see the the Miami Herald reporting on cruise ship crimes.  The Herald historically ignores stories like this and does not seem to want to anger the local cruise lines here in Miami who are major advertisers with the newspaper.  The Herald also included coverage on its Spanish edition, el Neuvo Herald - "Arrestado Hombre Acusado de Violación En Un Crucero."

Our firm was also mentioned in an interesting article about cruise ship norovirus and whether cruise line are taking adequate steps to sanitize their ships.  E Turbo News (Global Travel Industry News) published an article "When Bugs Swim: Cruise Ships Provide Perfect Environment for Spread of Disease."  I talked about my experience interviewing cruise ship cleaners who believe that the EcoLab spray disinfectants cause injury to their lungs.  They admitted pouring the anti-bacterial solutions down the drain and replacing the solutions with water.  So when they wipe the wet rags over the cruise ship surfaces, they are probably just spreading the nasty viruses George Smith - Jennifer Hagel - Cruise Crimeeverywhere.  No wonder the cruise lines seem to have a problem with norovirus outbreaks.

The big news this weekend was the media hype surrounding DateLine NBC's update on the disappearance of cruise passenger George Smith who went overboard in July 2005.  Unfortunately, there was nothing new presented in the hour long show.  You can read our last article about Mr. Smith's situation here.  I have always thought the case involved foul play and the four men last seen with George Smith know more than they have admitted.  At least the DateLine program returned the public's attention to this unsolved case.   

With the renewed interest in Mr. Smith's case the popular Cruise Radio program aired a prior interview with me which you can listen to here

This blog started the new year out with our own record.  According to Google analytics, over 20,000 visitors read over 67,000 pages for the first 8 days of 2012.  

If you have a question about cruise ship law or want our perspective on a cruise related story, please contact me directly at jwalker@cruiselaw.com    

Cruise Radio: Six Tips to Staying Safe on a Cruise Ship

Yesterday award winning cruise radio host Doug Parker (photo left) broadcast an earlier interview with me about tips about staying safe during a cruise.  The text of his blog is below.  Don't forget to listen to the interview at the bottom link:  

Cruise Radio - Doug Parker - Cruise Safety Tips"It’s not something you like to think about but just like on land, crime too happens on cruise ships, too.  This week’s news has been about the George Smith case, a man who disappeared on his honeymoon cruise back in July 2005, aboard Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas.  A follow-up “Overboard” will be on NBC’s Dateline this Friday night.

A lot of people let their guard down while cruising and think it’s safe to get crazy drunk or let their kids have full rein of the cruise ship because it’s a “safe-haven,” but that’s not always the case.  I mean you can drink all-you-want and not have to drive anywhere, right?

Maritime attorney Jim Walker of Cruise Law News sat down with us and gave us ”Six Tips for Staying Safe at Sea.”  This interview aired in January 2011 on Cruise Radio but we think this is a good time to reinforce what could be consequences of letting your guard down.

You will want to forward this article to any frequent cruisers in your life."

Listen to this short but informative interview here.

Cruise Law News: A Look Back at 2011

As this year comes to a close, it's time to look back at some of events of 2011.

Jewel of the Seas Crew Member InjuryLast year started out with a bang.  Our firm represented a seriously injured crewmember in a case against Royal Caribbean.  Our client sustained a debilitating back injury, underwent an unsuccessful surgery, and needed a second surgery which the cruise line refused to provide.  In January, a three member arbitration panel found that Royal Caribbean's refusal to provide the surgery "lacked any reasonable defense" and awarded the crewmember $1,250,000.  You can read  the decision here.

The award was featured in Miami's Daily Business Review, which you can read here.  It is the highest reported arbitration award for an injured crewmember to date.     

In ten days, we will begin a trial against Royal Caribbean on behalf of another crewmember who suffered a severe back injury, underwent an unsuccessful surgery and needs a second operation which the cruise line refuses to authorize.  Sound familiar?   Check back in a couple of weeks for the results of our first trial in 2012.   

Shortly after the Royal Caribbean award, we received bad news when a federal judge in Miami summarily ended one of our cases against Royal Caribbean where a young woman was severely injured while receiving private lessons on a FlowRider and underwent four surgeries.  The cruise line Royal Caribbean FlowRidertried to end the case based on a "liability waiver" which passengers are required to sign before participating in FlowRider activities as well as rock climbing, skating and other activities.  Liability waivers are illegal in maritime cases.  To our surprise the court granted the cruise line's motion, notwithstanding a federal statute clearly stating that liability waivers on the high seas are unenforceable.

The decision sent a shock wave through the Miami maritime legal community because liability waivers in maritime matters have been unenforceable for decades.  The defense lawyers for the cruise lines were giddy.  They spoke openly of requiring cruise passengers to sign liability waivers for everything from playing shuffleboard to exercising in the gym to swimming in the cruise ship's pool.  We appealed.  The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal overturned the lower court's ruling and held that cruise line liability waivers are illegal and unenforceable, even if they involve ultra-hazardous or inherently dangerous activities.  The decision is a great result that will protect cruise passengers for years to come.

The past year included the usual number of stories of cruise ship drug smuggling, sexual assaults, shipboard malpractice, serious injuries and passengers and crew disappearing under suspicious circumstances - everything the cruise lines don't want you to know about.

Jonathan Aronson - Lisa O'Neill - Jim Walker2011 was the first full year where our co-counsel Jonathan Aronson worked with us on cases.  Mr. Aronson was one of the best maritime attorneys in Florida who used to defend cases for Royal Caribbean until he switched sides to representing passengers and crewmembers.  The cruise line spent a small fortune trying to disqualify him and our firm from representing clients against it.  It lost.  We won. And most importantly, our clients benefited from having an excellent and highly experienced maritime attorney join our team.     

Our blog, Cruise Law News (CLN), enjoyed another popular year, ending up the number 11 most popular law blog per the Avvo/Alexa rankings.  This month over 53,000 people read over 156,000 pages of CLN. Here are some of the cruise highlights and lowlifes CLN covered:  

Mickey Mouse games by Disney Cruise Lines:  The Disappearance of Youth Counselor Rebecca Coriam  Things are not as they seem in the Magical Kingdom's fleet of cruise ships. 

The most reckless cruise passenger "rescue" I have ever seen:  Cruise Passenger Dropped into Freezing Waters During Botched Rescue  The crew should have been arrested.  And speaking of being arrested:  

Best articles in the spirit of "Occupy Wallstreet:"  Royal Caribbean Executives Get Richer While Crew Members Get Poorer and Royal Caribbean Stock Fraud Lawsuits - What Did the Cruise Line Executives Know and When Did They Know It? 

Royal Caribbean Executives - Richard Fain - Adam GoldsteinThe saddest article and the most facebook "likes" for a single article:  Tragedy on HAL's Half Moon Cay: A Mother's Perspective (366 likes)

The most likes for drugs on the world's largest gay cruise:  Passenger Busted for Selling Drugs on Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas (299 likes)

Weirdest story:  Woman Alleges False Imprisonment on Scientology Cruise Ship "Freewinds"

Second weirdest story:  Life In Jail For Cruise Passenger Who Threw Wife Overboard

Third weirdest story:  Accused Royal Caribbean Cruises Rapist Sues Bahamas for Spending Four Nights in Jail After Acquittal

Best April Fools story:  Breaking News: Carnival Cruise Lines Incorporates in the U.S. and Subjects Itself to U.S. Labor, Wage, Safety and Environmental Regulations  

Cruise Ship DisasterMost negative reaction to an article:  Gun Fight in Cabo San Lucas: Is it Safe to Cruise to Mexico?

Best series of articles:  Disappearance of George Smith IV - Six Years Later

Best article written by a guest blogger:  Top 10 Shocking Clauses In Your Cruise Contract

Best videos:  Top Five Worst Cruise Ship Disaster Videos

My favorite personal articles:  Are Cruise Ships Ruining Venice Or Just Memories From My Youth? and A View From A Fifth Grader - Gaddafi Finally Falls 42 Years Later 

Thanks to our readers, friends, and supporters for making CLN a success.  Don't forget to follow us on Twitter and our Cruise Law News facebook page.

Do you have a question about cruise law?   Don't hesitate to email me - jwalker@cruiselaw.com.

Jim Walker

How to Hire a Miami Maritime Lawyer to Sue a Cruise Line

Each year 14,000,000 people (yes 14 million) will go on a cruise.  There are literally hundreds of passengers, as well as crewmembers, who will suffer a serious back injury or break their ankle, leg or hip after slipping and falling while cruising.  Once back home after the cruise, they find it difficult to think of hiring a lawyer who they have never met in order to sue a large corporation in a far-off location like Miami.

But the process of hiring a Miami maritime lawyer to bring a claim against a cruise line like Carnival or Royal Caribbean is simple.

Jim Walker - Miami Maritime LawyerOver 95 percent of our firm's clients live out side of Florida.  If you have a question about an accident on a cruise ship, send us an email.  You can reach me directly: jwalker@cruiselaw.com  

You will receive an answer to your email right away.  We will need answers to four issues: 

When did the accident occur?  Remember that you have only one year to file a lawsuit against a cruise line!  This is a much shorter period of time than most land based injuries.

Which cruise line and which cruise ship were involved?  The majority of the cases we handle are against Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Carnival and Norwegian cruise lines.  These cases have to be filed here in Miami.  Other cruise lines like Princess Cruises have to be filed in California.  Holland America Line, for example, has to be sued in Seattle.  If we can't help you, we will find someone who can.

What happened and why is the cruise line responsible?  Be prepared to tell us not only how the accident occurred but why you think that the cruise line is liable.     

What injuries did you sustain?   The nature and extent of your injuries are important issues in your case.  Have you undergone surgery?   What type of medical treatment will you need in the future?  Once you retain us, we will quickly obtain copies of all relevant medical records and reports. 

If you prefer to call us, we look forward to speaking with you. We have a toll free number (800) 256-1518.  You will probably initially speak with one of our assistants, like Jan or Betsy (photo right, with client), who will ask you a few questions about the basic information listed above.  I will be pleased to answer any questions you may have.

If you decide to hire us, we work on a contingency fee.  This means that we do not bill you or ask for a retainer.  We are paid only if we are successful and obtain a settlement or a verdict.  You have nothing to lose. 

Miami Florida Maritime Law Firm We will send you four documents.

The first is the contingency fees agreement.  All lawyers who handle these type of cases must have a written contract with the client where everything is spelled out.  The second document is a statement of your rights as a client.  We will also send you a short questionnaire about your cruise accident.  The last document is a medical authorization so that we can obtain copies of your medical records.

We will email these items to you shortly after you email us or speak with us on the telephone.  Just fill out the forms and return them to us.  There is no need to travel to Miami to start your case.

One of the main reasons why cruise lines like Carnival and Royal Caribbean require that all claims be filed in Miami is that they know that it is inconvenient for injured passengers to do so.  That's why we make it easy for our clients to retain us.  Simply send us an email or make a single call.

I'm sure that you may have other questions, and I will be happy to spend as much time as necessary to provide answers for you.  I have been handling maritime injury cases since 1983.  Over ten years ago I was interviewed about the process of filing a claim against a cruise line. 

You can obtain additional basic information by reading the article here - Cruise Passenger Rights and Wrongs - Interview With Maritime Lawyer Jim Walker

Cruise Law News RoundUp - September 17, 2011

Cruise ship issues in Europe dominated the world of cruise news this week.

An explosion in the engine room of the Nordlys cruise ship, operated by Hurtigruten, resulted in a fire and the evacuation of the ship off of Norway.  Half of the 200 or so passengers were evacuated in lifeboats and the other half got off the cruise ship when the vessel was towed to port.  All passengers were safe but unfortunately two 2 crewmembers died and many were injured.      

Whenever a cruise ship explodes or catches on fire, there is always a cruise / travel columnist who feels compelled to publish an article insisting that such cruise calamities are rare.  This time it was Jane Pearl of Scandinavia - Cruise Ship FireArcher, a cruise fan and columnist who writes for the Telegraph Travel. Her puff piece article Hurtigruten Fire: How Safe is Your Cruise? claims that "incidents like this are few and far between."

The problem with this claim is that just last year an engine room fire caused the evacuation of over 600 passengers and crew in Norwegian waters.

That incident involved the German cruise ship Deutschland.  And just last November a cruise ferry, the Pearl of Scandinavia, erupted in fire off of Norway while filled with cars and passengers (photo left).

Ms. Archer somehow overlooked these two recent cruise ship fires in Norwegian waters.  Cruise ship fires are not as uncommon as cruise columnists may want you to think.  Take a moment and read Ten Years of Cruise Ship Fires - Has the Cruise Industry Learned Anything?

The other big development in Europe involved the parents of missing Disney Cruises youth counselor Rebecca Coriam meeting with the U.K. Shipping Minister to discuss enacting legislation to permit the U.K. to become involved in the investigation when British citizens disappear on foreign flagged cruise ship around the world.  Mike and Ann Coriam of Chester England are understandably upset with the lack of information from the cruise line and the single policeman from the Bahamas who is charged with investigating the disappearance.    

While the Coriam family was working to make cruising safer for the U.K. public, another cruise passenger disappeared from the Fred Olsen Balmoral cruise ship. Last year, the Balmoral was dubbed the "Cursed Cruise Ship of the High Seas" following a series of norovirus bouts which sickened hundred of passengers and crew.  We reported on the unexplained disappearance of another passenger  from the Balmoral last year.  The Balmoral also narrowly averted disaster when it was attacked by pirates last year.  

On a lighter personal note, the season finally started for my younger son's JV football team.  Gulliver was trounced by rival Belen Jesuit, but my son got to play running back, split end and corner back.  He ran across the field and got a big hit on Belen's running back at the one yard line to save the touchdown.  Watch the play to the end!

  

Photo credits:

Pearl of Scandinavia - AFP

Video -  richardsalinas29 youtube   

$800,000 Arbitration Award for Injured Carnival Crewmember

An arbitrator in California recently awarded substantial compensation on behalf of a seriously injured Carnival crewmember.

California attorney Stephen Estey issued a press release which stated that he obtained an arbitration award for a crewmember working aboard the Carnival cruise ship Imagination in the amount of $800,000 for injuries sustained in June 2008.  The press release states that Polish citizen Marcin Sokolowski was employed by Carnival as an assistant Maître D.’  His duties Imagination Cruise Ship - Crew Injury - Arbitrationincluded lifting heavy bins of food and equipment.   Although some of the bins weighed in excess of 100 pounds, Carnival refused to provide him with a dolly to assist him in loading and unloading the bins. 

In June, 2008, crewmember Sokolowski felt a "pop" in his low back while lifting the bins.  He felt immediate pain and reported this to the ship's doctor, who only prescribed pain medication. When the crewmember's pain persisted over the next few days, the ship doctor injected him with pain killers and tried to "adjust" his lower back. 

Sokolowski's condition declined and a doctor in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico recommended surgery after a MRI of his lumbar spine confirmed that he had a herniated disc at L5-S1 on the right side.

In mid August, 2008, surgeons at the University of California at San Diego Medical Center performed  a lumbar discectomy; unfortunately, Sokolowski suffered permanent damage to the nerves radiating to his leg.  The press release states that the U.S. neurosurgeon and, subsequently, a disability commission in Poland found Sokolowski to be permanently disabled.  The arbitrator awarded total compensation in the amount of $800,000. 

As we reported earlier today, arbitration awards for back injuries have ranged for as little as $75,000 to a high of $1,250,000 in a case we handled earlier this year.

I do not know Mr. Sokolowski or his counsel but his story is the same story injured cruise employees tell us.  Crewmembers sustain serious injured on cruise ships and then undergo medical "treatment" on the cruise ship consisting of masking the pain and delaying the cure.  By the time that board certified U.S. doctors finally treat them, the crewmembers often have sustained additional and permanent neurological damage.   

Given the range of cruise ship arbitration awards so far, Mr. Sokolowski's lawyer did a good job obtaining compensation for his client.   

If you are a crewmemmber, from the Caribbean, Europe, India or South or Central America, injured on a cruise ship, please consider reading Arbitration of Cruise Line Crewmember Cases.

Cruise Law News RoundUp - July 18, 2011

The big news this week is the sad story of the sinking of the Bulgaria cruise ship on the Volga river.  The 1955 era ship was considered a rust bucket.  On the day in question, it sailed with a malfunctioning engine, listing to one side, and overloaded with passengers.  When a storm turned the ship sideways, the captain could not right the vessel and it rolled and sank.  Over 100 people Bulgaria Cruise Ship Disasterperished, mostly women and children.  The international press is calling the tragedy the Russian Titanic.

Last week marked the six year anniversary of the suspicious death of George Smith.  We ran a series of articles Disappearance of George Smith IV - Six Years Later.

Royal Caribbean is placing pressure on the city of Key West to dredge and fill a path through the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary in order to widen the shipping lane into the harbor to accommodate its Genesis class of cruise ships, according to the Key Noter newspaper.   If the channel is not widened, the cruise line threatens to bypass Key West and head straight to Mexico.  However, dredging will destroy coral and sea fan resources.  Currently, some 800,000 cruise passengers unload into Key West every year.  Some residents expressed concern that adding even more cruise tourists from mega ships like the Allure and the Oasis will degrade the overall experience of visiting Key West and turn it into an "amusement park like atmosphere," transforming Duval Street into "redneck Disney World meets Myrtle Beach."

Robert McGill - Murder - Carnival ElationCarnival cruise passenger Robert McGill, aged 57, admitted killing his wife of five years, Shirley McGill, after an argument during a five-night cruise aboard the Elation to Cabo San Lucas in July 2009.  I blogged about this bizarre case last year -Prosecutors May Seek Death Penalty In Carnival Cruise Murder Case.

Regarding firm news, Cruise Radio interviewed me regarding a legal case.  Cruise Law News is the number 15th most popular law blog per the Alexa / Avvo rankings.  AOL Travel / Gadling published an article - "Death by Cruise Ship? It Can Come in Several Ways" which mentioned our firm.   The article cited our series on the disappearance of George Smith and featured a video of me on the Scarborough show.  Wow, did I lose a lot of hair in the past six years.

Princess Cruises showed how not to handle customer complaints by abandoning a honeymoon couple in St. Thomas (the crime capital in the Caribbean) and then dumping a passenger who Captain Stubing - Love Boatneeded a blood transfusion in Montego Bay, allegedly causing her to suffer brain injuries.  

Where is Captain Stubing and the Love Boat Doc when you need them? 

I ended the week with an article on the long hours and low pay which cruise ship cleaners receive: Long Hours, Repetitive Injuries & Bad Medical Care Plague Royal Caribbean Crewmembers.   Imagine working 330 hours a month for around $550. Turns out to be $1.67 hour or so. 

But don't worry.  When you sustain a serious repetitive hand injury, the cruise lines will send you back to Jamaica for surgery. 

Oh, I forgot, there are no hand surgeons in Jamaica.

Cruise Law News RoundUp - Monday June 13, 2011

This past week has been a busy time for our firm with many international news stories being published about the cruise industry.

Jim Walker - Jamaica - Cruise Ship LawyerOur firm is off and running with our advertising in Jamaica.  We spent Sunday fielding questions from prospective clients in response to our ads in local Sunday newspapers.   We are in discussions with advertisers in other Caribbean countries where injured and disabled crewmembers are abandoned by Miami-based cruise lines.

Our firm received a fair amount of press in the last week.  We were quoted in the Los Angles Times (discussed below) regarding a major cruise story.  The South Florida Business Journal and the U.K.'s Telegraph mentioned Cruise Law News' article about the bizarre 7 hour interrogation of British passengers by the U.S. Customs and Border police. 

it seems like some over-zealous Federal agents in Los Angeles mistook the geriatric British passengers on the luxury cruise ship as al-Qaida terrorists and subjected them to a nightmarish situation where the 2,000 elderly passengers underwent detailed passport checks, extensive background interviews, and biometric checks, including fingerprints of both hands and Interrogation Cruise Ship Passengersretina scans after standing in the heat for 7 hours.  You can read about the misguided way our Federal government treats tourists in my blog U.S. Customs Officials Take Revenge Against Elderly British Cruise Passengers?

Turning to more serious legal news, last Friday a Federal Court Judge in Miami rejected an attempt by Oceania Cruises to limit its potential liability at no more than $65,000 for alleged damages suffered by a 13 year old child raped on the Regatta cruise ship.   

Can you imagine having your child raped during a vacation cruise and then have the cruise line try to limit its liability for damages to only $65,000?  Only a cruise line could handle its PR like this.  You can read about the case here.    

The major event this weekend involved the Los Angeles Times' article about the sad tale and continuing mystery of missing youth counselor Rebecca Coriam from the Disney Wonder cruise ship.  Written by Corina Knoll, the LA Times article is entitled "Bereft Parents' Loss is as Deep as the Ocean."  It contains an iconic photograph (bottom) of Rebecca's parents, Mike and Ann Coriam, standing at the dock in San Pedro as the Wonder cruise ship sailed off for another cruise to the Disney Wonder Cruise Ship - Disappearance Rebecca CoriamMexican Riviera.  The Coriam family returned to Chester England with no answers regarding what happened to their daughter.  You can read our article here about the many questions which remain unanswered by this disturbing case.  

It amazes me that parents on the next cruise would drop off their kids to the care of youth counselors on the Disney cruise ship, after one of the counselors "vanished" during the last cruise.  How can a young woman completely "disappear" from the Magical Kingdom's cruise ship with no CCTV cameras capturing the events.  Are there "blind spots" in the CCTV cameras coverage of the ship?  Not a good idea on a cruise ship catering to family vacations with kids.  Does Disney have a serious problem with its security cameras?   Or do the cameras work just fine, but Disney is hiding information?     

The LA Times' article referred to our firm, as well as Congresswoman Doris Matsui who was instrumental in Congress' passage of the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act

A disturbing  issue with this latest cruise disappearance is that Disney Cruise Line is incorporated in the U.K. and Ms. Coriam is from England as well, but a single policeman from the Bahamas is involved in the "investigation" because the Disney Wonder flies a flag of convenience from that third Rebecca Coriam - Disappearance - Disney Cruise Lineworld country.  There is something wrong when a British citizen hired by a British corporation to work on a U.S. based cruise ship disappears, and no U.S. or U.K. agencies are allowed to board the cruise ship to investigate. 

This suits Disney Cruise Lines just fine.  They can work behind the scenes, as the policeman in the Bahamas sits in the police station in Nassau pretending to investigate what happened on a cruise ship sailing between LA and Mexico. Meanwhile, the Coriam family remains in England with no answers. 

I suppose that our U.S. Federal agents in Los Angeles could do a better job investigating the case of missing British citizen Rebecca Coriam.  But then again, they probably are busy harassing elderly British cruise tourists. 

"Injured on a Cruise Ship?" - Lawyer Advertising in Jamaica

Today we began advertising in Jamaica, as I mentioned in an earlier blog.  The ad below will begin appearing in some of the newspapers in Jamaica, and a variation will appear on some of the billboards in Jamaica.

I have been a lawyer for 28 years.  I have never advertised on television, radio, newspapers or billboards.  We have relied on our reputation developed over the years and recommendations from one client we have helped to the next potential client who finds himself in a similar situation.

I have always viewed "billboard lawyers" with disdain.  Florida is littered with huge billboards looming over the highways advertising lawyers with 1-800 I N J U R Y telephone numbers.   

I do not think I have ever seen any of these "billboard lawyers" actually in the courthouse.  Probably because they don't really go to court or actually handle cases.  Many of these lawyers take the calls from their 1-800 numbers and then refer the cases to other lawyers to handle.  Lots of Americans point to the lawyer billboards as endemic of the so-called "litigation explosion" which many people think plagues the U.S. 

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. Cruise lines often take advantage of this type of situation.

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.  Advertising in Jamaica will help level the playing field against the cruise lines.  We are educating these crewmembers regarding their right to obtain compensation here in Miami when they are disabled from cruise ship employment.

So, it is with mixed feelings that I am about to become a "billboard lawyer."   But not just any "billboard lawyer."  A Jamaican billboard lawyer.  

But unlike U.S. billboard lawyers, you will see the lawyers in our firm in the courthouse here in Miami fighting for the rights of our clients who the cruise lines have abandoned in Jamaica.      

June 28, 2011 Update:  We modified our ad, with a non descript cruise ship and a different background.

 

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)

Cruise Law Featured on Cruise Radio

Cruise Radio is the most popular cruise related radio show in the world. 

Yesterday we were one of the guests on the radio show and discussed tips on how to stay safe on cruise ships.  

I discuss some tips to keep in mind if you cruise.  About keeping your kids safe.  About child predators on cruises.  About cruise crime.  About the consequences of too much alcohol on cruises.  About violence during Caribbean excursions.  Some disturbing info, no doubt. 

As the host mentioned, Walker "gave some brutal but honest facts. It's a great reminder" about cruise ship safety.

Take a listen here.   

Vote for @CruiseLaw for a Shorty Award in #Law Because . . .

It's that time of the year where the Shorty Awards honor the "best people and organizations on Twitter and social media."  Throughout the month of January, people can nominate Tweeters in official categories and "crowd-sourced categories."  

I am seeking votes for the #law category.  For those of you who follow this blog or interact with me on Twitter, you know that I am a lawyer who believes in the power of communicating via the social media of blogs, Facebook and Twitter.  

Last year I tied for first place in #law and then did the chivalrous thing and voted for my opponent, a lawyer in England, to break the tie.

To vote for me this year, click on this link and you will see a proposed tweet that says: "I nominate @CruiseLaw for a Shorty Award in #law because . . ."  You have to give a reason after "because . . ."  It can be a serious reason (if you have one) or a silly one (like because he asked me).  But you have to give a reason or the vote will not count.

You can also vote simply by going to Twitter and tweeting "I nominate @CruiseLaw for a Shorty Award in #law because . . ."  (and then give a reason).

Thanks!

 Nominate James (Jim) Walker for a social media award in the Shorty Awards!  Nominate James (Jim) Walker for in #law in the Shorty Awards

Its Not Personal . . . Its Strictly Business.

The Daily Business Review published an interesting article today about a local cruise line's efforts to disqualify our firm and our co-counsel, Jonathan Aronson.  The article is entitled "Cruise Line Case Highlights Ethics of Switching Sides."

The dispute arises out of the fact that Aronson used to be one of the cruise line's defense lawyers, until it stopped sending him cases on a regular basis over the course of the last several years.  Curtis Mase - Its Not Personal - Its Business After Royal Caribbean assigned him only one case in 2009, Aronson informed the cruise line that he could not support his family and would no longer represent the cruise line.  Now a year later, Aronson has appeared as co-counsel with us in a number of cases against Royal Caribbean. The cruise line's response was to hire two law firms - Holland & Knight and Mase, Lara & Eversole, with instructions to disqualify Aronson and this firm at all costs. 

The Business Review's article contains some interesting quotes, one from Aronson and another from defense attorney Mase who is now tasked with taking Aronson down.

Aronson:  “I think they’re being vindictive.  They’re just going after me for blood. They’re trying to grind me down, no question .   .   .  I have a wife and two children in graduate school, and I have to make a living,”

Mase:  "This is not remotely personal.  We’ve all been friends for a long time, and we’ll still be friends when this is over."

The disconnect between these two thoughts reminds me of one of my favorite scenes from The Godfather.  The Corleone family lawyer, Tom Hagen, tries to calm Sonny down after Sollozzo tried to kill his father.  But Sonny would not listen to the lawyer's advice:

Sonny:  No, no, no, not this time, Consigliere.  No more meetin's, no more discussions, no more Sollozzo tricks. You give them a message.  I want Sollozzo.  If not, its all out war.  We go to the mattresses.

Jonathan Aronson - Its PersonalTom Hagen:  Some of the other families won't sit still for an all out war.

Sonny:  Then you tell them to hand over Sollozzo!

Tom Hagen:  Your father wouldn't want to hear this, Sonny.  This is business not personal.

Sonny:  They shoot my father and it's business, my ass!

Tom Hagen:  Even shooting your father was business not personal, Sonny!

Sonny:  Well then, business is going to have to suffer.  And please, do me a favor, Tom.  No more advice on how to patch things up.  Just help me win, please?

 

Mase and Aronson are probably both right. 

Its strictly business, and business as usual, for this $15 billion dollar corporation to try and knock out an attorney who switches sides.  But being abandoned by a former client who then tries to put you out of business when you are supporting your wife and two children is about as personal as it gets.    

   

 

 

If you liked this article, consider reading:

Royal Caribbean Forces Defense Lawyer to Switch Sides

Switching Sides And Finding Your Soul

Miami Cruise Ship Accident and Injury Lawyer

This weekend while cleaning out a file cabinet, I ran across an article published by the Miami Herald entitled "Lawyers Turn Cruise Lawsuits Into Industry." The article stated that between 2001 and 2006, over 2,000 lawsuits were filed against the Miami based cruise lines - Carnival, Celebrity, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean.

Cruise Ship Lawyer - Miami - Accident - InjuryThe article mentioned that I was one of the "big three" leading adversaries of cruise lines. This was a nice compliment, I suppose, coming from a newspaper like the Miami Herald which is a big supporter of the cruise industry.

The article discussed lawsuits filed on behalf of passengers and crew members against cruise lines:

"The $25 billion-a-year cruising industry has faced more lawsuits than it cares to count over the past few decades -- some 2,100 in South Florida alone since 2001.

Many are filed by a small group of lawyers -- about 15 locally -- who specialize in representing injured cruise passengers and crew members and make up a thriving cottage industry in South Florida.

But the cruise lines aren't exactly sitting back -- far from it. They have teams of lawyers to fight or settle the suits, and they've quietly begun putting into place measures to make it more difficult to sue them."

"Prime Location For Passenger Claims"

One of the obstacles cruise lines use is the requirement that lawsuits by passengers must be filed here in South Florida.  Cruise lines have included forum selection clauses in the passenger tickets requiring the passenger to sue here in Miami rather than in their home town. The Miami Herald articles states:

Cruise Lawyer - Miami Florida - Accident - Injury - Cruise Ship"For lawyers interested in suing cruise lines, South Florida is the place to be.

If you want to do this kind of work, you pretty much have to do it in Miami," said Martin Davies, a maritime law professor at Tulane University.

Davies said plaintiffs' lawyers occasionally try to sue somewhere else, but they almost always fail. The perception is that the cruise lines are getting a hometown advantage. Davies disputes that, arguing that it makes sense for cruise lines to be able to limit the number of places where passengers can sue. "Their passengers come from all over the world," he said.

The cruise lines won't say how much money they spend on lawsuits, but most cases do get settled, with payouts ranging from a couple thousand dollars to more than $1 million."

 

For additional information about passenger lawsuits against cruise lines here in Miami, we suggest reading some of our other articles: 

Cruise Ship Accidents - Miami Maritime Lawyer

Cruise Ship Accident and Injury Law - Miami Florida - Forum Selection Clauses

Cruise Passenger Rights and Wrongs - Interview With Maritime Lawyer Jim Walker

Cruise Ship Accidents - Miami Maritime Lawyer

Over 5 million cruise ship passengers cruise out of the port of Miami each year.  Many sail on cruise ships like the Carnival Destiny, pictured below as its leaves Miami Beach and heads south to the Caribbean.

The majority of our articles here at Cruise Law News address current issues which occur all too often on cruise ships - like outbreaks of norovirus, shipboard sexual assaults, or passenger and crew members overboards.

Cruise Law - Jim Walker - Miami Maritime LawyerBut this article addresses the most common incident on a cruise ship - when a passenger slips and falls on a deck on the ship.  These incidents occur literally on every single cruise.  Fractured hips, broken kneecaps, displaced ankle-fractures requiring surgery  . .  and so forth.  The accidents occur by the buffets, by the pools, in the dining rooms, on the exterior decks - everywhere. 

Here are few things to keep in mind if you are a passenger injured during a cruise:

If possible, don't let the cruise line dump you off in a port in Mexico or a Caribbean port.  Its often better to tough it out a day or two and  get back to a U.S. port or fly back to the U.S. as soon as reasonably possible.  The surgical skills of the doctors in Mexico or the Caribbean islands are about 30 years behind U.S. standards.  Hopefully, you have trip insurance and your air ambulance back to the U.S. is covered - otherwise you are looking at $30,000 out of your pocket to fly back to the States.

Obtain the names and contact information of witnesses who can verify the conditions surrounding your accident.  The cruise line will never provide you with the accident report or statements of witnesses.  Never.  The cruise line's lawyers will blame you.  It does not matter that you sailed with Royal Caribbean 25 times and are a Diamond Club member.  Once you are a liability to the cruise lines, you have not seen a worse enemy.  Protect yourself.

Read the terms of your passenger ticket.  There is some important information in there.  Like, you have to notify the cruise line of your intention to seek compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and disability within six months of your accident.  And if you need to file a claim, there is only a one (1) year limitations period to file the claim.  This is a much shorter limitations period - most states have a statute of limitations of up to four (4) years.  If you snooze, you lose! 

Be ready to travel to Miami for your lawsuit.  All of the cruise lines have "forum selection" clauses, whereby the cruise lines require to travel to a particular location to file your claim.  The cruise line is betting that you will not read the terms of the ticket and will file suit in the wrong courthouse - hopefully more than one year after your accident!.  The following cruise lines require that you file suit in Florida (Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or Cape Canaveral):  

Azamara, Carnival, Celebrity, Costa, Disney (Magical Cruise Company), MSC Cruises, Norwegian, Oceania, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Seabourn, SeaDream, SilverSea, and Star Clipper. 

If you file suit untimely and in the wrong jurisdiction, you will lose your rights!

For additional information, please read my interview about passenger rights - now ten years old!

Cruise Ship Accident - Cruise Injury - Cruise Lawyer - Miami

 

Credits:

Photographs         Jim Walker

 

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. 

Vote for Jim Walker @CruiseLaw for Shorty Awards in #Law

Friend & Foes - I am asking for your vote! 
 
I was nominated for a "Shorty Award" in the #law peoples' choice category. 
 
The official site of the Shorty Awards states that it honors "the best people and organizations on Cruise Law - James "Jim" Walker - Maritime Lawyer Twitter.  These unique awards are for the Twitter community, by the Twitter community."
 
Online voting is public and supposedly democratic, "culminating in an awards ceremony that recognizes the winners in 26 official categories as well as those in brand new crowd sourced ones."
 
I was nominated a bit late.  But, let's face it, i deserve it.  I'm just joking, or am I? 
 
To vote - click on the link here and vote for me for goodness sakes!  You have to give a reason for voting for me:
 
"I vote for @CruiseLaw for a Shorty Award in #law because . . . 
 
So say something nice, like "because he looks like George Clooney" (not true), or "because he is a nice guy" (partially true), or "because his Mom & Dad are really nice people" (totally true).   It does not matter, just say anything clever.  I want to win this damn thing!  Don't screw this up - I am counting on you! 
 
I did the obligatory interview for the award which is below (I hope I sound clever):    
 
What's your best tweet?
 
Royal Caribbean sails to its trademarked fantasy island of Labadee® as Haiti suffers . . .
 
What are six things you could never do without?
 
Coffee, beer, & the 4 hours between the 2   .  .  .
 
How do you use Twitter in your professional life?
 
If it involves a cruise, you will hear it from me first.
 
What's your favorite Twitter app?
 
Tweetdeck.
 
Twitter or Facebook?
 
A machine gun or a pea shooter?  I choose Twitter.
 
What was the funniest trend you've seen?
 
Once it's a trend it's no longer funny.
 
What feature should Twitter add?
 
Video skype.
 
Who do you wish had a Twitter feed but doesn't?
 
My Dad, the master story-teller, 80 years young.
 
What are some words or phrases you refuse to shorten for brevity?
 
Corporate malfeasance, flag-of-convenience.
 
Is there someone you want to follow you who doesn't already? If so, who?
 
Rachel Maddow.
 
Have you ever unfollowed someone? Who and why?
 
Yes, a few of those Do NOT Pay for White Teeth people snuck into my tent.
 
Why should we vote for you?
 
I had big ears, buck teeth, and stuttered in grade school - now I just stutter.
 
Terms you wish would start trending on Twitter right now?
 
Saints Win Superbowl.
 
What's the most interesting connection you've made through Twitter?
 
Cruise passenger tweeting on the deck of a burning cruise ship.
 
Hashtag you created that you wish everyone used?
 
#cruiselaw.
 
How do you make your tweets unique?
 
Cruise law, cruise law, cruise law, no one does it as timely, consistently, or insightfully (my, I am modest).
 
What inspires you to tweet?
 
Herman Melville said something in Moby Dick about the mutual joint-stock world we live in . . .
 
Ever get called out for tweeting too much?
 
Not so far, I assume people just leave the party if they don't like my rants.
 
Shorty Awards140 characters of advice for a new user?
 
Don't type in caps it is a sign of insanity.
 
How long can you go without a tweet?
 
1/2 circulation of the earth.
 
What question are we not asking here that we should?
 
Who should win the Shorty award other than you?
 
Who do you admire most for his or her use of Twitter?
 
@CruiseVictims - check it out.
 
Why'd you start tweeting?
 
I wondered what everyone was doing with their blackberries on TV during Obama's State of the Union speech.
 
Has Twitter changed your life? If yes, how?
 
Twitter intensified love/hate: my mother-in-law thinks I lost my mind, my kids think I'm brilliant.
 
What do you wish people would do more of on Twitter?
 
Use Twitter as vehicle for donations to non - profits.
 
How will the world change in 2010?
 
What makes you think the world will change?
 
What are some big Twitter faux pas?
 
Saying anything twice, selling anything, saying anything twice.
 
What will the world be like 10 years from now?
 
A ball of confusion, just like the world is today hey hey .  .  .
 

OK.  Thanks for reading.  Vote for me and I will appoint you to my cabinet, or maybe to be the Ambassador to the cruise ship League of Nations, or I'll send you a special gift, or  . . . 

Hey, I remember my friends . . .   

 

Shorty Awards

CruiseLaw Launches Cruise Blog "CruiseLaw News"

In 1999, I launched CruiseLaw.com - a legal web site focused on the cruise industry. The need for such a web site was obvious. Passengers sexually assaulted or injured on cruise ships operated by Carnival, Celebrity, Costa, Norwegian, or Royal Caribbean are required to bring their claims in Miami or Fort Lauderdale. The internet provides an easy way for passengers living in California, Kansas or New York to locate a maritime lawyer in South Florida for advice.

CruiseLaw in 1999 - No Shortage of Horror Stories

Within a year, we were representing over 50 passengers who had been seriously injured on cruise ships or shore excursions. It was disturbing to see the large number of injured passengers and to hear their stories about how the cruise lines treated them after their injuries. Worse still was the large number of women and children raped or molested by crew members where the cruise line tried to cover up the incidents.

We have seen cruise ship fires, "missing" passengers and crew members, and accidents of every sort - both on the cruise ships and during shore excursions. 

500 Cruise Clients Later - A Perspective to Share

Now ten years and around 500 clients later, I am launching this blog - called "CruiseLaw News." I will report on breaking cruise news every day. The blog will provide insightful legal commentary regarding cruise passengers and crew members around the world. No ghost writers here, you will hear directly from me. The cruise lines won’t be pleased. Travel agents may cringe. You will learn about issues that the cruise industry PR machine and the happy-go-lucky cruise fanatics don’t want you to know.

Post Your Comments - Pro or Con

This blog will not be a one way street. You are encouraged to post your comments. Please express your genuine feelings and opinions. No editing will take place. The only rules are to be civil. Hopefully, be original and thoughtful.  And, preferably, get to the point

Check back for my first blog, and we will get into things. In the interim, stay in touch with me on Twitter @CruiseLaw and see where I stand on the latest cruise fiasco.

Cruise Law Services for Passengers and Crew Members

Cruise ship accidents, injuries, crimes, disappearances, fires, and collisions on the high seas involve issues of maritime law.  Jim Walker graduated from law school in 1983 and has been handling maritime law cases for the past thirty-one years. He handles a wide variety of cases from serious injuries to the highest profile sexual assault and cruise crime cases.

Cruise Passenger Injuries and Accidents - Carnival - Royal Caribbean - Jim focuses his maritime law practice on representing cruise passengers and crew members in cases against cruise lines such as Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Disney, Holland America Line, Princess and Norwegian Cruise Line among others. 

The firm handles cases on a "contingency" basis - meaning that you do not send us a retainer and we do not bill you for our fees or expenses. 

We advance all costs and are reimbursed for our time and costs only if we are successful in reaching a settlement or we win the case for you. 

PASSENGER CASES:

Jim's firm represents passengers throughout the United States, Canada, England and Europe.  95% of his U.S. clients live outside of Florida, from New York to California.  

Jim handles the following types of cases: 

  • Medical malpractice cases arising from bad treatment by cruise ship doctors and nurses.
  • Slip and fall accidents on wet decks, buffet floors, and slippery pool decks. 
  • Sexual assaults on cruise ships, by crew members or other passengers.
  • Physical assaults and battery, often due to intoxicated passengers.
  • Overboard passengers and “disappearances” at sea.
  • Injuries during shore excursions.
  • Injuries and deaths on tour excursion vehicles, "safari" buses, jet-skis and recreational watercraft.  
  • Injuries while boarding tenders to and from the cruise ships.
  • Cruise ship catastrophes - fires, sinkings and collisions.
  • Injuries and deaths arising from terrorist and pirate attacks.

CREW MEMBERS CASES

Jim has handled many hundreds of cases against cruise lines like Carnival, Celebrity, Disney, Oceania, Princess, Royal Caribbean and Silversea.  The types of cases include:  

  • Delayed and improper medical care on the cruise ship.
  • Failure to provide medical treatment ashore.
  • Jim Walker - Cruise Ship Law - Maritime Law MiamiMedical negligence by doctors hired by the cruise lines in foreign countries
  • Failure to pay wages and living expenses in a timely manner.
  • Abandoning the crew member in their home country after becoming injured or ill.
  • Neck, shoulder and back injuries to waiters due to lifting heavy trays.
  • Slip and falls in the galley.
  • Injuries to stateroom attendants.
  • Accidents handling luggage during embarkation day.
  • Sexual harassment and sexual assault.     

Jim is handling cases of crew members from countries like Jamaica, St. Vincent, Trinidad, Nicaragua, Serbia, Croatia, Canada, Peru, Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico.

With recent widespread incidents of cruise ship fires, collisions and sinkings, the world-wide media has called upon Jim for legal commentary and analysis.  In 2013 amd 2014, Jim has appeared in over 200 television, cable news, radio, documentary, and newspaper articles and programs

Contact

Jim Walker 

Walker & O'Neill, P.A.
Plaza 57, Suite 430
7301 S.W. 57th Court
South Miami, Florida 33143

Phone: (305) 995-5300
Fax: (305) 995-5310

Toll Free: (855) 995-5300

Email:

Jim Walker:  jim@cruiselaw.com

 

About Jim Walker

The New York Times describes Jim Walker as "a maritime lawyer in Miami who has attended more than half a dozen Congressional hearings about cruise ship crime and passenger safety." Jim has been involved in maritime litigation since 1983.  Based in Miami, Florida, Jim represents passengers and crew members injured or assaulted on cruise ships around the world.

Cruise Law - Jim Walker - Miami Florida

As this year (2014) begins, Jim has been one of the "go to" maritime lawyers when things go wrong on the high seas.

He has appeared this year in the Nassau Guardian "U.S. Attorney Raises Alarm Over Crime;" Caribbean360 "Bahamas "One Gunshot Away' From Being Dropped by Cruise Lines;" ABC News' "How Prepared Are Cruise Ships If You Go Overboard?; Nine News World "Woman Suing Cruise Company for Drunken Fall;" ABC 20/20 Program "Man Overboard Cases" (video); Il Mattino "Ubriaca vola in mare dalla nave da crociera. Le drammatiche immagini delle telecamere di controllo;" CNN "Cruise Ship Nightmares;" Wikipedia "Carnival Cruise Lines;" CTV News (Canadian Child Drowns In Cruise Ship Poolelevision) "Explorer of the Seas Norovirus;" CTV's Kevin Newman Live; Antigua Observer "Cruise Lawyer Says German Ship Has No Case;" U.K.'s Daily Mail "Coast Guard Searches for Celebrity Cruise Line Chef Who Fell Overboard in the Caribbean;" Nassau Guardian "Challenging the Status of Crime in the Caribbean;" Dominican Today "Social Media and Managing Reputation;"  Huff Post Crime "Child Drowns In Cruise Ship Pool;" Baltimore Post-Examiner "Bahamas Fight Violent Crime in Midst of Hotel Boom;" Agenda (a Financial Times Service) "Critics Rip Carnival Exec’s Golden Parachute;" Washington Post "Norovirus Outbreaks Make Both Cruise Lines and Passengers Leery;" WKMG TV-6 (CBS Orlando) "Top Cruise Spots Also Top List for Crime;" CNN New Day, "Crew Member Accused of Attacking Cruise Passenger, Tying to Push Her Overboard," Sun Sentinel, "Assaults on Cruise Ships Happen, But Not Often;" Liberty Voice "Holland America Line Room Service Included Rape Assault," ABC NEWS Channel 7 Chicago "Woman Alleges Cruise Ship Sex Assault by Angry Crew Member;" FOX 45 "Cruise Attendant accused of Sexual Assault;" Market Watch "Do Cruise Lines Have a Crime Problem?;" Seattle Times "A sick way to cruise - Who’s to blame and what’s the compensation when norovirus strikes a cruise ship?;" KSAT "UTSA Student Sexually Assaulted During Cruise Vacation;" Nassau Guardian "Christie and Davis' Troubling Statements on Crime;" "Fire Cruise: Crime, Drugs and Fires on Cruise Ships" by Ken Rossignol ("the Cruise Law News website was invaluable in assembling material for this book);" ABC Local News 5 Cleveland "Concern Grows Over Cruise Ship Crime Reporting; Local Law Enforcement Agencies Lack Jurisdiction;" Chicago Tribune "Taking the Kids -- and keeping them safe around the water;" New Times "Videos Show MSC Cruise Line Employees Tossing Bags of Trash Overboard;" eGlobal Travel Media "MSC Cruises Magnifica Accused of Dumping Garbage in the Ocean Off Brazil;" Huffington Post "Cruise Ship Workers Appear To Throw Bags Of Garbage Right Into The Ocean (VIDEO);" U.K.'s Daily Mail  "Caught on camera: The moment cruise ship crew member hurled garbage bags straight into the ocean off Brazilian coast in violation of international law;" AOL Travel "Cruise ship worker filmed 'throwing rubbish bags into ocean' (video);" FOX News "What's the deal with no lifeguards on cruise ships?;" Le Martin (Switzerland, French speaking newspaper) "Des ordures jetées à la mer! — Vidéo à l’appui, un avocat affirme que la compagnie italo-suisse MSC Croisières jette des poubelles dans l’océan" Reizen (Dutch newspaper) "Betrapt: bemanning cruise kiepert vuilnis zomaar in zee;" Travel Pulse "Royal Caribbean Faces PR Backlash After Issues On Three Separate Cruises;" Philly.com "Rough sailing when virus comes aboard;" Travel Pulse "Following Death Of Crew Member, Norwegian Cancels Calls to Roatán;" CNN "33 Dead in Ferry Sinking, Captain Faces Charges;" Big John & Amy Show 560 AM (Chicago) Korean Ferry Disaster; St Lucia OnLine "St. Lucia ranked in top 10 most dangerous cruise destinations in the world;" St. Maarten Island Time "Port of St. Maarten Not Listed in Cruise Law News Top 10 Most Dangerous Cruise Destinations in the World - Destination must remain safe, secure and hospitable;" Barbados Nation News "US Blogger Takes a Swipe at Barbados;" Nassau Guardian: U.S. Based Attorney Lists Bahamas As "Most Dangerous" Cruise Port;" OB2 "Legal expert ranks worst crime-torn cruise destinations;" U.K.'s Daily Mail "Riding the crime wave: Lawyers reveal the world's most dangerous cruise ports of call;" Travel Mole "Report identifies most dangerous cruise destinations;" Nassau Guardian: Most Dangerous Cruise Destination Claim Not Accurate;" Nassau Guardian "Bahamas Spot On Crime List causes Skepticism, Concern;" Business of Tourism "Crime Levels Continue to Be Major Problem for Destination Bahamas;" Times Picayune "Coast Guard searching for man who jumped from cruise ship;" NB12 News (Video) "Bahamas Named Most Dangerous Cruise Destination;" WINN FM "Questions raised about fatal boat accident;" Il Fatto Alimentare "Passeggeri della Crown Princess vittime di un’infezione gastrointestinale causata dal Norovirus;" CNN "Brutal Cruise Ship Assault;" Cruising Done Right "Crime On the Rise? Find Out Yourself!; USA Prepares "Trash of the Wealthy Dumped in the Ocean;" LexBlog "Cruise lawyer Jim Walker captures media attention, forces response from government officials;" Nassau Guardian "Canadian Man Warns of Crime in the Bahamas;" Professional Mariner "Cruise industry debates whether mega ships are safe enough;" LexBlog "Blogging with Passion Turns Cruise Lawyer Jim Walker into Industry Watchdog;" Above the Law "On Blogging: Throw Your Heart Over The Bar, Let Your Writing Follow;" USA TODAY "The Top 20 Best Cruise Bloggers;" Cayman Compass "Tourism chiefs vigilant over crime threat;" Canna Law Blog "Pot Is Illegal And Don’t You Forget It: Royal Gazette "Island’s tough line on cruise ship passengers with drugs is criticized;" Royal Gazette "The Best of Times, the Worst of Times;" Maritime Executive "Man Overboard from Carnival Spirit;" Naples Daily News "Cruise ship crimes: What you should know (Video);" Opposing Views Family Not Allowed To Re-Book Norwegian Cruise Lines Reservation After Son Diagnosed With Cancer; TravelPulse Norwegian Faces PR Backlash For Refusing Cancer Family Refund; CNN Cruise Ship Horror Stories (Includes our client Laurie Dishman); Miami Herald / AP Carnival plans to build cruise port in Haiti; CBS Money Watch Haiti looks to welcome back tourists; Washington Post Some cruise lines take a hard stance on refunds, even when a relative dies; Maritime Executive Another Death in Cruise Ship Swimming Pool; Montreal Gazette Transgender cruise raises concern; Independent (Macedonia) Denisa Fell Off the Ship, the Captain Repogersrted Her Missing; Macedonian Newspaper Security Cameras on the Ship Where Young Denisa Markoska Disappeared Not Working?; CruiseNewser April Fool’s Day: Carnival to incorporate in the US; PRNewser Another Cruise Industry #PRFail?; CruisingMates MSC allegedly dumps rubbish at sea; Wes Neuman Proper Behavior in a Hearing; Miami Herald: DOT Launches New Site for Cruise Passengers; Tradewinds Princess Crewman Killed; gCaptain Crewmember Killed, Another Injured in Cruise Ship Rescue Boat Accident; Sun Sentinel Celebration Passengers Describe Chaotic Scene; New York Times U.S. Embassy Warns of Crime in Bahamas; UPI U.S. Warns of Sex Assaults on Bahamas Tourists; WPRO Radio (Rhode Island) Watch Out for Crime in the Bahamas - WPRO Interviews Jim Walker; Tribune Water Sports Operators Hold Talks With Ministry Over Safety Of Tourists; SHM (Australia) Cruise Liner Loses Passenger at Sea; News Talk 2UE 954 (Australia) How many people fall off cruises each year? How? James Walker, lawyer & cruise safety advocate joins us; LexBlog Legal newsrooms may be shrinking, but coverage is increasing via blogs; Otago Daily News 'Pukefest' as norovirus bug hits cruise ship; The Independent (Ireland) Hundreds of luxury cruise passengers confined to cabins to avoid norovirus 'pukefest;' eGlobal Travel Media ‘Pukefest’ and ‘heave ho’ describe cruise ship outbreak; Tribune (Nassau, Bahamas) Bahamas Named Among Worst Cruise Ports.

In 2013, Jim appeared in the following television shows, newspapers and radio programs: CNN Opinion's "What Cruise Lines Don't Want You to Know", AP's "No Central Agency Oversees, Inspects Cruise Ships,"  WGN Radio (Chicago), Miami Herald, Newsday's "Carnival Triumph: First Lawsuit Filed in Cruise Ship Fiasco," Wall Street Journal Law Blog's "Why Suing Carnival Could be a Waste," Reuters, American Bar Journal's "Cruise Ship Fires Occur with ‘Alarming Frequency,’ Maritime Lawyer Says;" Forbes' "Ship Isn't The Only Thing That Stinks At Carnival: Low Tax Rate Stirs Ire," WWL Radio (New Orleans) "Cruise Ship Safety," CNN Travel's "Lawsuit Filed Over 'Floating Hell' Cruise" (Video), U.K's Daily Mail, ABC News' 20/20 "Troubled Waters" (Video), CNBC's Squawk on the Street's "Carnival & Legal Obligations" (Video), CTV's "Will Compensation Keep Cruise Ship Lawsuits at Bay?, Business Insider's "Passengers On Stranded Cruise Ship Are Camping On Deck And Waiting In Line For Food," Times of Malta's "International Lawyer Praises Malta on Cruise Liner Tragedy," Bloomberg's "Carnival Ship Fire Strands 3,100 Guests Off Mexican Coast,"  Sun Sentinel's "Carnival Cruise Nightmare: Why Evacuation is not an Option," America Public Media's "Worst Cruise Ever: Can I Sue?;" Yahoo Finance's "Cruise Ship Fire Highlights Past Incidents."

The GO-TO CRUISE LAW ATTORNEY - FEATURED IN HUNDREDS OF TELEVISION, CABLE NEWS, RADIO, DOCUMENTARY, MAGAZINE & NEWSPAPER ARTICLES AND PROGRAMS ABOUT CRUISE SHIP ACCIDENTS, INJURIES, SEXUAL ASSAULTS AND CONTROVERSIES 

Rush Limbaugh's "Media Targets Evil Carnival Cruise Company," Insurance Journal, Travel Blackboard, Local 10 News (Miami), Business Insider's "Good Luck Finding Out If The Cruise Ship You're Traveling On Is Safe," South Florida Business Journal"s "New Twists in Boozing and Ocean Cruising," ABC's 20/20 "Troubled Waters" (Video), U.K. Daily Mail, Times of Malta's International Lawyer Praises Malta on Cruise Liner Tragedy," Business Journalism's "Cruise Ship Saga: Business Story Angles and Resources," ABC News' "Death of Cruise Ship Singer Jackie Kastrinelis Remains a Mystery," KRPC TV (Houston) "Local 2 Investigates Carnival Cruise Fires" (Video), U.K. Daily Mail's "First Passenger Sues Cruise Line Over 'Horrifying' Conditions on Stricken Carnival Vessel," WOR 710 Radio (New York), Thomson Reuters' Triumph Passengers Bring Class Action Against Carnival," Seattle Times' Cruise Lawsuits Are In, But Carnival Has Advantage," Travel Weekly's "Triumph Suits Add to CCL's Woes," Newsweek's "Carnival Cruise from Hell," Daily Business Review: "Justice Watch: Triumph Passengers Face a Sea of Issues," Travel agent Central's "Update on Carnival Triumph - Lawsuits Filed, One First-Timer Weighs In," CBS Peter Greenberg "Why It’s Hard for Passengers to Sue Post-Carnival Triumph," Local 10 (Miami) "3 Carnival Cruise Line fires since Nov. 2010" (video), Travel agent Central's Can Victims of Costa Concordia Sue in the U.S.?, Daily Business Review's and National Law Journal's "Federal Judge Sends Concordia Lawsuits back to Miami-Dade," CruiseMates' "Cruise Ship System Failures," Quaratz's "One of the Secrets to Carnival Cruise’s Unsinkable Business Model: Free Coast Guard Rescues," Philadelphia Inquiry's "Pregnant?You May not be Able to Cruise," South Florida Business Journal's "Carnival Shares Drop with Reputation Under Assault," CBS Baltimore's "FBI Investigating Suspicious Death On Cruise Ship That Set Sail From Baltimore," International Business Times' "Cruise Ship Death: FBI Probes Suspicious Death Aboard Royal Caribbean Baltimore Cruise; "MSN News' "Cruise Ship Death Spotlights Murky Waters of Fatalities at Sea;" Cruising Done Right's "Maritime Lawyer Raises Questions," NBC Rock Center with Brian Williams' "Carnival CEO Comes Under Congressional Heat" - Watch NBC Video here; South Florida Business Review's April Fool's Day: Carnival Will incorporate in the United States, NBC's "Would Your Cruise Have Fewer Problems if Americans Ran It?," E-Travel Blackboard's US law firm spends $3 million to charter cruise ship;" NBC's "Family Seeks More Answers in Disappearance of Man From Cruise Ship;" Huffington's Post's "Paul Rossington, Missing Carnival Cruise Passenger, May Have Been Trying To Rescue Girlfriend Kristen Schroder;" Seattle Times' Taking a Hard Look at Cruise-Ship Problems:" CNN's "FBI to Review Honeymooner's 2005 Cruise Ship Death;" Boston Herald's "Murder, Crime Warnings in Nassau;" The Economic Times' "How Normal are Cruise Ship Mishaps Like Fires and Power Failures?; eTravel Blackboard (Australia)'s "Cruise Lawyer Says Bridge Being Unaware of Man Overboard Situations Should Not Happen;" The Slant's "Carnival is Taking on Water But Don't Abandon Ship;" KGW News Station (Oregon) Salem Cruise Passenger Missing and Presumed Drowned;" U.K. Mirror's What can cruise passengers expect from their own Bill of Rights?; Sun Sentinel's CLIA, "Cruise Operators Adopt Passenger Bill of Rights," Travel Weekly's "Cruise Lines Adopt First ‘Bill of Rights’ for Clients at Sea;" eTravel Blackboard's US Cruise Lawyer: "Cruise Ship Fires: When is Enough, Enough?;"  K-Talk Utah Radio (NBC) Malcolm Alvin's Malcolm Out Loud Show; eTravel Blackboard's "US Judge Changes Mind About Legal Jurisdiction;" Anderson Cooper AC 360 Keeping Them Honest - "Who's Keeping Cruise Passengers Safe?;" HuffPost Music Canada's "Sean Richard Bell, Manitoba Cruise Ship Musician, Arrested On Child Pornography Charges;" Florida Today's "Cruise Ship Crime Stats Aren't Smooth Sailing;" Florida Today's "Who's Working on the Ships You're Sailing Aboard?;" USA Today Watchdogs Urge Better Reporting of Cruise Ship Crime;" Chicago Tribune's Can You Trust the Cruise Lines' New Passenger 'Bill of Rights?; Miami Daily Business Review's "Plaintiffs Celebrate Ruling In Concordia Shipwreck;" e-Travel Blackboard's "National Lawyers Strike Suspends Concordia Schettino’s Trial;" New York Times' "Those Wordy Contracts We All So Quickly Accept;" Global Travel Industry News's "Cruise Line Bill of Rights - Trustworthy?;" Trusted Luxury Cruises' "Silversea Cruises: Silver Shadow Failed Inspection;" eTravel Blackboard's "US Lawyer Says Silversea’s Silver Shadow Fails Sanitation Inspection;" Alaska Dispatch's "Corporate Interests 4, Alaska Zero. Game Over?:;" Skift Travel's "Cruise Lines to Begin Disclosing All Onboard Crimes on Own Websites;" CNN's "Luxury Cruise Fails Surprise Health Inspection;" eTravel Blackboard's "US Senate Cruise Industry Hearing Reveals Cruise Crime is Hidden;" NBC News' "Luxury Cruise Line Vows Changes After Ship Fails CDC Inspection;" KOAA's "More Problems for Cruise Ships;" NBC News' "Lawmakers Turn Attention to Crime on Cruise Ships;" NBC 6's "Major Cruise Lines Begin Posting Crime Stats;" Miami Herald's "Report, Punish Crimes in Cruises:" Washington Post's "Will a New Law Force Cruise Lines to Better Report Onboard Crime?;" Yahoo Voices' "Are Cruise-Safety Concerns Justified? Bigger Ships, More Destinations, Limited Accountability - Should Passengers Think Twice?;" Coach Class - Travel for Real People's "Cruise Passenger Bill of Putative Rights;" Travel Weekly's "Cruise Editor's Bookmarks: Three Interesting Reads;" Wall Street Journal's "Reputation, Regulatory Issues Dog Cruise Industry;" Noticias 25 Internacionales' "Uno de los cruceros más lujosos del mundo no pasó la inspección sanitaria;" About Cruise Ship's "Disney Line Sexual Assault;" Lloyd's List "MLC: Cruiseship Employees Work Ever Longer Shifts;" Associated Press/ CBS "Carnival Cruise Lines Says 6-Year-Old Boy Drowned in Pool at Sea;" CNN's New Day Reports: "Costa Captain Says Not My Fault;" Travel Agent Central "Dawn Princess Hit by Electrical Fire, Guests Called to Muster Stations;" Huffington Post "Woman Overboard On Grand Princess Cruise Feared Dead;" Miami Herald "Overboard Cases on Cruise Lines Often Under-Reported to Public;" Wikipedia - "Carnival Cruise Lines;" WPTV-NBC "Law Requires Man Overboard Systems on Cruise Ships to Detect a Passenger Falling Overboard;"  Cay Compass "Critics Urge Caution on Cruise Port Deal;" Change.org "P&O Ferries: Install CCTV Cameras on Passenger Decks;" Tampa Bay Business Journal "Raising the Sunshine Skyway Could Open the Bay for Giant Cruise Ships;" This is Kent "A Mum is Forever;"  Global Travel Industry News "Royal Caribbean Cruise: Passenger overboard - Coast Guard Taking Over;" Daily Mail "Coast Guard Searches for Passenger Who Jumped Overboard Royal Caribbean's Adventure of the Seas;" Lund University "Cruise Ship Passengers and Their Rights."

In 2012, Jim appeared on ABC's 20/20 special on the Costa Concordia disaster. He appeared on Australia's Dateline program "Lost at Sea" about passengers and crew members disappearing from cruise ships. Jim was featured on PBS's documentary "Disasters at Sea: Why Ships Sink" which looked at cruise disasters from the Titanic's sinking in 1912 to the current date. He also appeared on CNN's special "Cruise to Disaster" which explored the Concordia disaster.

Jim attended Duke University and graduated cum laude in 1980. He attended Tulane University School of Law, graduating in 1983 after taking Tulane’s internationally renowned admiralty curriculum.

Jim has experience regarding issues of cruise ship crime and sexual assault. Over the past ten years, he has represented over 1,000 clients including over 75 individuals who have been victimized on cruise ships, cruise excursions and ports of call. Six of Jim’s clients have testified before the United States Congress regarding cruise ship safety. Jim has handled the following cases in the past ten years: 

  • The case of Laurie Dishman, sexually assaulted on Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas. Her case resulted in changes to the cruise industry and the introduction of the Cruise Ship Safety and Security Act of 2010.
  • The “Missing Honeymooner Case” involving the disappearance of George Smith IV of Greenwich Connecticut from Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas cruise ship. Jim represented Mr. Smith’s widow, Jennifer Hagel.
  • Over 75 sexual assault cases against women and children on cruise ships, resulting in many million and multi-million dollars settlements.
  • The 2006 Star Princess fire disaster. The cruise ship fire resulted in one hundred cabins being destroyed and the death of one passenger, Richard Liffridge. Jim represented Mr. Liffridge’s family in litigation against Princess Cruises in California.
  • Numerous cases involving serious injury and death of passengers and crew members aboard Carnival, Celebrity, Costa, Norwegian, Oceania, Princess and Royal Caribbean cruise ships.

Jim is married to Lisa O’Neill who he met while they were undergraduates in college thirty years ago. Jim and Lisa are also law partners.

Watch 5 Years Later (facebook video).

Lisa is also a Duke cum laude graduate, and attended the University of Florida School of Law in Gainesville, Florida. She served on Law Review as the Senior Articles Editor, won the prestigious Gertrude Brick Award, and graduated cum laude. Jim and Lisa work on all cases together.


In 1999, the firm created the web site CruiseLaw.com as an information resource for passengers and crew members worldwide. Here is what some publications are saying about Jim Walker:

"Top Maritime Lawyer" - ABA Journal.

"Top Cruise Lawyer" - USA Today.

"Prominent Private Practice Maritime Attorney" - Fox News.

"A Premier Lawyer for Cruise Passengers" - Reuters.

"Prominent Cruise Plaintiff Attorney" - Law.com (America Law Media).

"Leading Miami Attorney" - Newsweek Magazine

"Leading Maritime Lawyer in Miami" - Arizona Republic / USA Today

"An Outspoken and Candid Maritime Attorney Who has Represented Some of the Highest Profile Cruise Plaintiffs in History" - CruiseMates

"Longtime Maritime Lawyer Who Represents Clients Suing Cruise Lines" - New York Times

"Internationally Renowned Maritime Lawyer and Cruise Safety Advocate" - Times of Malta

"Man For the Other Team" - International Shipping Publication Tradewinds.

"Famous Miami Maritime Attorney" - CruiseNewser.

"Prominent Florida-Based Lawyer for Cruise Ship Passenger" - Staten Island Live.

"Leading U.S. Based Cruise Lawyer" - eTravel Blackboard (Australia).

"Prominent Miami Maritime Lawyer" - Travel Agent Central.

"Industry Watchdog" - LexBlog

"King of anti-cruise tirades . . . his impressive background and litigation record against cruise lines must be taken seriously." - Travel Weekly.

"Perpetual Pain-In-The-Cruise-Lines-Neck Jim Walker" - Gadling.

Jim is the author of Cruise Law News - described as a "Hard-Hitting Blog" by Miami's Daily Business Review.

Jim writes the "authoritative cruise blog" - Sydney Morning Herald.

"Cruise Law News, published by Attorney Jim Walker, has blown the doors off the cruise industry and has grown to be one the most widely read digital publications in the law." 

The U.K. Metro newspaper refers to Jim as the "Devil of Cruise Reporting."

Professional Associations

  • Admiralty Law Committee of the Florida Bar (former member)
  • American Association for Justice, Admiralty Law Section
  • Florida Admiralty Trial Lawyers Association
  • Maritime Law Association of the United States
  • Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum
  • Southeast Admiralty Law Institute

Education

  • Kent School, Kent Connecticut 1976
  • Duke University, Durham North Carolina 1980
  • Tulane School of Law, New Orleans Louisiana 1983

Bar Admissions

  • Florida Bar Association
  • Louisiana Bar Association (not active)
  • United States District Courts, Eastern District of Louisiana and Southern District of Florida

Media, Television, Radio, Magazines and Newspapers


Jim and his clients have been featured on television, cable news and radio shows, as well as in documentaries, newspapers and magazine articles.

ABC, CBS, MSNBC, CNN, FOXNews, DATELINE, 48 HOURS, 20/20, 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, U.K.'s Telegraph, St. Petersburg Times, Miami’s New Times, U.K. Mirror, London’s Guardian, Edmonton Post, Chicago Sun-Times, Bahamas Journal, Italy's "Chi l'ha Visto?" television show, Germany's Wunderwelt Wisen, CruiseCritic, South Florida Business Journal, Open Secrets organization, Queerty, Baltimore Sun, Bahamas Tribune, National Public Radio (NPR), USA Today, Gadling, FOX Business, Slate Magazine, ABA Journal, Australia's The Age, Attorney at Law Magazine, Huffington Post, U.K.'s Daily Mail, BBC, Freeport (Bahamas) News, Haaretz, Trip Advisor, Wikipedia, Palm Beach Post, India Times, E Turbo News, Global Travel News, Comunidade News (Brazil), Canada's CTV, OutFront with CNN's Erin Burnett, Slate, The Daily, London's Financial Times, Newsweek Magazine, Newsweek's The Daily Beast Blog, Fund Web, Reuters, Consumer Affairs, Australia's Herald Sun, Canada's NewsTalk 1010 Radio, Houston Chronicle, Wall Street Journal, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), Tampa Bay Business Journal, Perez Hilton, Business Insider, Greenwich Magazine, Herald Sun, CNN Money, the Australian newspaper, Christian Science Monitor, International Business Times, Maritime Executive, Businessweek, Bloomberg, Alaska Dispatch, Minnesota Post, Virgin Islands Daily News, Arizona Republic, Trip Advisor, Daily Kos, Jamaica's Gleaner newspaper, Antigua Observer, N.Y. Daily News, U.K.'s Daily Mail, UPI, Inquisitr, Christian Post, KTIC Radio, Cordova Times, Bloomberg News, Business Insider, Times of Malta, CNN Opinion, Wall Street Journal Blog. Newsday, CBC Radio (Canada), American Public Media Market Place, WGN Radio (Chicago) Chicago Tribune, WWL Radio (Miami), CNBC Squawk on the Street, WIOD Radio (Miami) and the Associated Press have all covered Jim’s cases and his client's causes.

Watch Jim on ABC's 20/20 program in January 2012 about the Costa Concordia disaster:

Watch Jim on Australia's Dateline program "Lost at Seas" in March 2012 about cruise ship disappearances:

Watch Jim on PBS / NOVA's "Why Ships Sink"

Watch Why Ships Sink on PBS. See more from NOVA.