43 Year Old Sexually Assaults Minor on Carnival Triumph

Carnival Cruise RapeBreitbart reports today that a member of the Kansas National Guard pleaded guilty to transporting a minor across state lines for the purposes of having sex on a Carnival cruise ship.

Paul Francis Grimm, age 43, from Wichita, Kansas flew a girl under 18 from her home in Ohio to Houston in order to take her on the Carnival Triumph cruise ship sailing from Galveston, Texas.

Grimm used to live in Ohio and his daughter was friends with the underage girl. Grimm falsely told the girl's mother that he was taking his children on the cruise and wanted the girl to accompany them.

At the end of the cruise, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) became suspicious when they realized that Grimm and the minor had different last names. The CBP separated Grimm from the child and found out that Grimm possessed nude photographs of the girl, brought sex toys with him, and had engaged in sexual conduct with the underage girl. 

There is a lot of blame to pass around in this situation. No parent should ever permit a man to take their child on a cruise. A cruise line should never sell a single cabin to a man and an unrelated child twenty-five (25) years younger than him.

The Customs and Border Patrol should begin vetting the name of passengers before the cruise starts, rather than screening passengers only at the end of the cruise.  Unfortunately this is standard practice Custom and Border Patrolfor the CBP, which routinely permits rapists, criminals with outstanding warrants and other misfits to board cruise ships. Then there is great fanfare at the end of the cruise when the CBP finally take a look at the ship manifest. 

Consider how often this occurs:

Are You Cruising with a Wanted Felon? Five Passengers Arrested on Carnival Magic in Galveston.

Passenger Wrongfully Arrested On A Carnival Cruise Ship

U.S. Customs & Border Agents Terrorize Cruise Passenger.

Cruise passengers Steven Mark Anthony Requena (photo right), age 28, was arrested while disembarking the Carnival Inspiration at the Port of Tampa. His name was flagged by a sweep of the manifest of passengers by Homeland Security officials who determined that the passenger was wanted for sexual assault in addition to assault with a weapon and forcible confinement. The U.S. Marshals arrested Requena only after the cruise ship returned to port. Regretfully, our federal government routinely looks at the ship passenger list only after the bad guys have already boarded the cruise ship. 

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Photo Credits: Top - Brietbart; bottom - United States Marshal's Office.

Paulgrimm Complaint

 

Carnival "Poop Cruise" Passengers Seek $5,000 a Month for Life

Carnival Poop Cruise LawsuitReuters is reporting that the Carnival "poop cruise" passengers are seeking $5,000 a month for life. Ridiculous, many people will say. I don't disagree.

I went on record a year ago saying that Triumph passengers should not bother suing because they are not going to get anything - read Carnival Triumph Cruise From Hell: Here Come the Lawsuits!

Carnival's lawyers responded by telling Reuters that "this is an opportunistic lawsuit brought by plaintiff's counsel and plaintiffs who seek to make a money grab."

That's like the pot calling the kettle black. Carnival CEO Micky Arison is worth $7 billion and just sold $395 million of stock. But Carnival still felt compelled last year to raid the crew member's tips and suspend their retirement benefits. Talk about a money grab.

I say what do the hard-working Carnival crew members get for cleaning up the filthy ship?

Greed On the High Seas: "Poop Cruise" & Concordia Cruise Executive Cashes $395,000,000 of Carnival Stock

Last week I wrote an article about Royal Caribbean CEO and President Adam Goldstein cashing in over $2,300,000 worth of Royal Caribbean stock, still leaving him with around $19,000,000 worth of his company's stock. 

It's difficult to justify the enormous wealth of the cruise executives given the fact that the cruise business is rigged to create gigantic profits free of U.S. taxes. Cruise lines like Royal Caribbean (Liberia) and Carnival (Panama) incorporated in foreign countries in order to avoid U.S. taxes, labor and wage laws, and safety regulations. The cruise lines pay dirt cheap wages to laborers from India and the Caribbean islands. They provide no benefits at all to their loyal crew members.

Cruise executive compensation isn't tied to whether the line's ships sink or catch on fire. One of the Micky Arison Carnival CruiseRoyal Caribbean cruise ships, the Grandeur of the Seas, caught on fire for two hours last year yet cruise CEO Goldstein still raked in millions. Cruise executives are rewarded for squeezing blood out of the stone. 

Tax-fee Royal Caribbean pays a salary of only $50 a month to its waiters and cabin attendants who it works like dogs, relying on the tax-paying cruise passengers to pay tips so the employees can try and make a living.  Yet Royal Caribbean is stealing, some say, some of the passenger money intended for tips and using the "tips" to pay the salaries of the non-tip earning crew members. Last year Royal Caribbean fired over one-hundred employees in its corporate offices here in Miami because of "tough economic times." Yet the cruise line executives like CEO Goldstein and chairman Richard Fain still pocketed millions and millions and millions at the end of the year.

No doubt the cruise employees are getting the shaft. The crew is getting poorer while the fat cat executives are getting richer and richer.  

The greediest cruise executive in my opinion is, hands down, no doubt-about-it, by-far Micky Arison. He makes Goldstein look like chump change. Arison is the news this weekend after agreeing to sell up to 10 million shares of Carnival Corporation stock. At $39.50 per share, that's $395,000,000. 5 million shares were sold on Friday and the remaining shares will be sold over the next 15 months, After the sale is complete, the Arison family will still own 188,000,000 shares worth over $7,426,000,000.

What will multi-billionaire Arison do with the $395,000,000? Build medical clinics in Goa, India where most of his crew members come from? Fund the retirement benefits for his hard working Filipino crew members who have slaved away far-from-their-children for decades on his ships?  Create schools in Nicaragua where thousands of family members of Carnival crew members reside? No, no, no. The nearly $400 million in cash will be solely for his own tax and estate planning.

CEO Arison paid himself a $90,000,000 bonus in 2002 - the same year of the Costa Concordia disaster. In my assessment, he seems like a money hoarder without a social conscious. Here are some of the infamous incidents involving Carnival Corporation and its brands over the last few years:

It is an amazing spectacle to watch Arison enrich himself irrespective of the Concordia capsizing and the Triumph engine room fire. 

Just last week we commented on Carnival's press release, issued during the middle of the Triumph "poop cruise" trial here in Miami. Carnival characterized the cruise passengers, who endured four days in the Gulf of Mexico after the negligently maintained old ship caught fire, as greedy.

I suppose it's business as usual for Carnival to malign its Triumph cruise guests while chairman Arison is cashing in a fraction of his cruise stock during the middle of the Triumph trial for $395,000,000. 

 

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Carnival Triumph: "Frazzled Wires" Caused Smoke & Power Loss

Carnival TriumphCarnival told a television station last evening that after an "electrical breaker failed," the Triumph cruise ship lost power. This "affected ventilation in the ship's incinerator, sending smoke into limited areas of three decks."

Well, that's not what the Cruise Director told the passengers last evening on the ship.

According to a passenger, the Cruise Director said that "frazzled wires" caused the smoke.  This was broadcast over the intercom throughout the ship. The smoke from the electrical fire entered the ventilation system. 

Here's what the Cruise Director said in the video below:

"I'm telling you the truth right here. So folks, if there is a bit of smoke anywhere near you, head on up to the open decks. Just a couple of wires have been kind of frazzled. So big apologies about that. Once again, absolutely folks nothing to worry about at all. We're getting the power restarted as soon as possible and we will be off and on our way. Thank you very much everybody."

Carnival also claimed that the power was off for a mere 8 minutes. Passengers are also disputing that too, saying that the propulsion was shut down for over an hour. 

It seems like the "incinerator smoke" excuse is as bogus as the "8 minute" power loss excuse.

I'm still receiving a lot of information from the passengers who were on the cruise so check back on this story. 

Photo Credit: Carnival Triumph - Reuters

 

How Long Was Power Failure on Carnival Triumph? "8 Minutes" or 1 to 2 Hours?

Carnival Triumph Power LossYesterday a television station in Louisiana reported that the infamous "poop cruise" ship Triumph suffered a power story.

Carnival told KATC that the power outage was extremely brief - "8 minutes."

Because it was Friday evening, no major news stations covered the story. We published a short article and reported the Carnival quote that the outage was allegedly just "8 minutes." I placed quotes around eight minutes because it sounded bogus to me. 

I thought that as soon as the passengers got off the Triumph, we would hear a different story that what Carnival was saying.

All of the popular cruise bloggers, who are essentially cheerleaders for the cruise lines, repeated the Carnival quote - "8 minutes." The bloggers took the Carnival PR statement hook, line and sinker. They "reported" on the brief power loss as no big deal. 

This morning, passengers are beginning to leave comments on our article. The first person said the power was out for almost one hour. The second person said there was considerable confusion with the crew telling them to put on their life jackets and go to the muster station while other crew members told them to take their life vests off and report to the Lido deck. A third person said that the outage was 1 to 2 hours and there was substantial confusion. A fourth person said the power was out for one hour but the crew handled the situation well.

Another person said there was burnt and frazzled wiring which caused the smoke. Carnival said yesterday that it was just some smoke from an incinerator. 

Carnival Triumph Power LossYou can read the comments here.

The cruise lines' problems with their image and reputation have more to do with how they act and what they say after a problem like this than the problem itself. Being dishonest about a loss of power on the high seas is a serious breach of the public's trust. 

If the cruise line is lying about the length of the power outage the question arises whether it is lying about the cause of the power loss too?

If you were on the cruise, does anyone believe that the power was for just eight minutes?  How long was it?

Please leave a  comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Update: Carnival Triumph: "Frazzled Wires" Caused Smoke & Power Loss"

Carnival Triumph Loses Power Again - "For 8 Minutes"

Carnival Triumph Cruise Ship KATC reports that the infamous "poop" cruise ship, the Triumph, lost power today as the Carnival cruise ship was sailing from Cozumel, Mexico back to Galveston, Texas.

According to KATC, Carnival says that the Triumph lost power "for eight minutes" after an electrical breaker failed. Carnival says the loss of power "affected ventilation in the ship's incinerator, sending smoke into limited areas of three decks."

Everyone will remember the Triumph which floated around in the Gulf of Mexico last year after an engine room fire knocked out power to the ship. Whatever happens with this infamous cruise ship will forever be closely monitored. Carnival denies that a fire broke out on the ship and denies that a fire caused the electrical outage. We have heard these denials before, like this case and this one too.

Carnival notified the U.S. Coast Guard of the incident. 

KATV reports that passengers are still on the deck waiting for the smoke to clear.

Whether a fire broke out or not, what caused the breaker to fail?

If you are on the cruise, we'd like to hear the passenger's view of what happened. Was the power out for just "8 minutes?"

Leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page

February 1 2014 Update: Passengers getting off of the ship are stating that the power was out for an hour.  Also passenger records Cruise Director announced  that "frazzled wires" caused smoke.  

 

Photo Credit: Dave Martin / AP

Carnival Fights Losing PR Battle After Incriminating Poop Cruise Documents Surface

The coverage of the fire-stricken Triumph was brutal earlier this year. CNN aired the disgusting story of the powerless poop cruise ship adrift in the Gulf of Mexico literally 24 hours a day. Never before in the history of the televised world have the words "feces" and "urine" been broadcast so many times in such a short time period.

Carnival tried to make things right.  It reimbursed everyone completely, paid for all transportation expenses, and gave everyone a free cruise. Carnival President Cahill apologized to everyone he could find. He looked as distraught as a cruise executive could be.    

I quickly went on record saying that we would not represent anyone for the debacle because claims for Carnival Triumph Poop Cruiseinconvenience and annoyance without a physical injury are excluded by the terms of the passenger ticket and are not compensable. 

Carnival made some major changes to try and avoid this from happening again. It tried to cast its beleaguered brand in a more positive light.  

It invested some $300 million in the much needed deferred maintenance of its neglected ship.  Carnival and its brands brought in some new marketing companies and embarked on new advertising campaigns. It took the seemingly indifferent (and Miami Heat obsessed) CEO Micky Arison out of public scrutiny by hiring a new CEO. Carnival brands Princess and Holland America also reshuffled their decks to bring in new leadership.     

But then the CNN special aired Monday night. The images of the damning inspection reports and maintenance deficiencies juxtaposed with the feces and urine bio-hazard bags were devastating. Then the AP article, which further revealed the outrageous decision to risk human life by selling tickets on this fire-trap-of-a-ship, dropped on the cruise line liked an atomic bomb.

These explosive articles and videos were followed by a series of shock waves from the likes of TIME magazine, the Miami Herald, and hundreds of AP associated newspapers across the country.

Carnival tried to fight back. But it could find only a couple of cruise line fan publications, like their friends at Cruise Critic, to present a contrary view in fluff articles. But this only made matters worse. Cruise Critic quoted a PR crisis manager saying: "Exceeding the manufacturer's suggested time between overhaul does not implicate safety concerns with the engines." (Every lawyer who sues Carnival saved that quote for future use.)

Today a cruise travel agency publication quoted Carnival saying that the allegations in the CNN and AP stories were "frivolous." But no one was listening. The damage had already been done. The CNN images told the story. Carnival's excuses seemed flimsy and contrived. The cruise line sounded bitter, desperate and ultimately unbelievable.   

Where did all of the goodwill generated by the $300 million improvements, the new advertising and the new leadership go?

Behind the scenes, Carnival decided not to try and settle the many hundreds of lawsuits and claims filed (notwithstanding my opinion) by the aggrieved passengers who were not satisfied by reimbursements and free cruises. They are pissed off, and rightfully so, because they believe that Carnival played Russian roulette with their lives, as the CNN special seems to reveal.

Why is Carnival in this spot? It decided not to pay a penny to their guests in compensation and instructed their defense firms to vigorously defend the claims. Millions to the wealthy defense lawyers but not a penny more to the cruise guests.

So the lawyers for the passengers press forward. In the process, the documents revealing the truth are handed off by the lawyers for the passengers to the producers at CNN and the AP reporters.

More damaging documents will follow. These documents will show a pattern of neglect of the cruise ship and pressure to keep the cruise operating 24 hour hours a day, risking passenger and crew member lives.

Whatever eventually happens with the lawsuits seems irrelevant to me. The "Poop Cruise" PR debacle continues. And notwithstanding free cruises, new marketing, and fresh faces in management, Carnival's reputation remains in the pooper. 

Russian Roulette: Did Carnival Sail Knowing that the Triumph was Unseaworthy?

Carnival Triumph Cruise ShipReeling from a CNN special report indicating that it delayed maintaining the diesel engines and fuel lines in the Triumph and other cruise ships, Carnival was hit last night with an article published by the Associated Press stating that the cruise line knew that the Triumph was a fire trap but it took chances with its passengers' lives.

In the article titled Suit: Fire Risk Known Before Carnival Ship Sailed, the AP cited deposition testimony from the Triumph's captain admitting that Carnival had known about the fuel leak problem since March of 2012, a year before the fire. The captain stated that spray guards, a makeshift measure to deal with leaky fuel lines, were partially installed on the cruise ship but not on the engine which caught fire.

The CNN program and the AP article paint a grim image of a ship with a neglected engine room, in violation of the International Maritime Organization's Safety of Life at Sea recommendations, which was ready to ignite with 4,000 souls aboard.

According to the AP, Houston lawyer Frank Spagnoletti characterized Carnival as reckless: "It was unbelievable to me that you would take 4,000 people and put them in a situation of basically Russian roulette. Basically every time that vessel went out they never knew whether they were going to have a fire or not."

Responding to these allegations yesterday, Carnival played dumb and denied everything. The AP quoted Carnival saying: "The leak in the flexible fuel hose was a completely unexpected accident that took place. What ignited the fuel is unknown." Carnival called the spray guards a "best practice."

Carnival may be trying to distance itself from the negative press surrounding the Triumph debacle (and the Concordia disaster before that), but denials and flimsy excuses like these demonstrate that the cruise line's reputation seems as poorly maintained as its cruise ships.

 

See photos of the Triumph inspection reports and disabled ship here.

Phto Credit: Telegraph.co.uk

CNN Report on Triumph Fire: Carnival Cruise Line Knew of Danger Before Sailing

Triumph Cruise Ship FireAnderson Cooper aired a short special last night on his program AC360.

Over and over again, Carnival engineers indicated on their Triumph inspection reports and maintenance records that one of the ship's diesel generators was way past due for maintenance. The cruise ship was out of compliance with the IMO's Safety of Life at Sea requirements.

Carnival irresponsibly delayed and deferred maintenance and overhaul of the diesel engine. 

The program indicates that the Triumph had a dangerous propensity for a fire problem but Carnival neglected the engines and then set sail anyway. CNN said that the fire was a disaster waiting to happen and the cruise line risked the passengers' lives and well being.   

The problem could be traced back for over a year to a "dangerous pattern" of fuel line leaks on other ships, including the Carnival owned Costa Allegra which previously erupted in fire.

This fire, which disabled the Allegra, fore-shadowed the Triumph fire. There were reportedly nine instances of fuel leaks from flexible fuel hoses throughout Carnival's fleet. The cruise line was recommending the installation of spray shields on some but not all of its ships to protect the flanges Carnival Triumph Cruise Ship Fireand hoses from leaking fuel on hot spots which would ignite.

The hose which was not shielded on the Triumph sprayed fuel which ignited the fire. This was foreseeable and preventable. 

The documents were produced by Carnival in a lawsuit filed by a lawyer in Houston.

Carnival is defending the lawsuit by saying that no one was physically injured. Plus it claims that the cruise line offers no promise of a safe trip and passengers have no right to sue for unsafe or unsanitary conditions during the cruise.

Carnival also says that it is spending 300 million dollars to make improvements and prevent fires.

The images are from the CNN special. You can see additional photographs on our Facebook page

Watch the video below. 

Lawsuit: Couple on Carnival Triumph Endured "Deplorable, Unsafe & Unsanitary Conditions," But They Weren't on the Cruise Ship!

It's hard to develop a reputation worse than Carnival Cruise Lines these days but a lawyer in Houston may have accomplished that feat.  

According to the Houston Chronicle, Houston lawyer John Bruster Loyd filed a lawsuit against Carnival Cruise Lines on behalf of a couple in Texas.

He alleged that they had been victims of the disgusting conditions on the ill-fated Triumph "poop cruise." He said that his clients were forced to endure Carnival Poop Cruise - Triumph"deplorable, unsafe and unsanitary conditions." 

The problem is that the couple were never on the cruise ship.

The couple's beef with Carnival was that they lost the value of their pre-paid wedding in Cozumel when subsequent sailings of the Triumph were canceled. The cruise line allegedly promised to reimburse the couple but failed to do so.

But it seems that their attorney, who had not spoken to his clients for 6 to 7 months, forgot that they never sailed and got carried away with his allegations.

The newspaper quotes the embarrassed lawyer saying "I screwed up." 

  

"No Further Information is Available"

Miami Port - Cruise ShipThis weekend, KHOU news station reports from Galveston, Texas that the Carnival Triumph returned to port Saturday afternoon "after a passenger had a medical emergency."

KHOE didn't explain the medical emergency but reported that the U.S. Coast Guard said the medical emergency was not life-threatening, "so they did not fly out to the cruise ship." The cruise ship then told the Coast Guard that it would be "just easier for the ship to return to port and drop the passenger off."

That's the end of the reported story.

If that's not sufficiently uninformative, here's another one from Canada's Herald News: the police are investigating a "sudden death" aboard Holland America Line's Eurodam after a woman was found dead. 

The police in Canada said that the death of the 59-year-old passenger “is not considered suspicious at this time.” 

The newspaper also reports that medical examiner’s officer was called to the scene and "no further information is available."

Are you satisfied with this type of "news?"

Do you believe that the details of stories like this are any of your business? 

Do you think that the cruise lines and official authorities will tell you all you are entitled to know?

 

 Photo Credit: AP Photo / Andy Newman

Carnival Scores PR Coup During Interview with CBS's Peter Greenberg

Arnold Donald Carnival CruiseCarnival scored some much needed public relations points during an interview with CBS News' travel expert Peter Greenberg. Following several high-profile mishaps (the Costa Concordia disaster and the Carnival Triumph "poop cruise"), the cruise giant is reportedly spending more than half-a-billion dollars for improvements on its fleet of cruise ships. 

Of particular interest during the interview was that new CEO Arnold Donald (who replaced Micky Arison, photo left, as CEO) was featured. He appeared relaxed during the interview with Greenberg while discussing some serious issues. Some points made by CEO Donald during the CBS interview:

"Not only did no one die, no one was hurt, no one was sick, so there was no safety health issue involved with the Triumph at all."

"In the highly unlikely event we should ever lose power again we'd be able to have a system to back that up and we'd have a process to keep from losing power in the first place." 

Carnival rerouted 63 miles of cable, so that a fire would be less likely to take out both engine rooms, as it did on the Triumph. "If one room is lost, we don't lose the other."

Fire suppression was increased: water mist nozzles were increased from 30 to about 500, and a 24 / 7 manned patrol was added to look for oil or fuel leaks. And finally, a second backup generator (nowhere near the engine room) was installed just in case.

Photo Credit: local10.com / Video Credit: CBS News

September 4 2013 Update:  The CBS Morning Show Segment That Looks Like a Carnival Cruise Commercial via Skift - Does CBS stand for Carnival Broadcasting Station?

 

 

New Lawsuits Filed Against Carnival for Triumph "Poop Cruise"

Yesterday we mentioned that the first case filed in Galveston by a passenger following the infamous Triumph "poop cruise" was voluntarily dismissed. But today there is news that additional lawsuits were just filed in southeast Texas for damages alleged by passengers who sailed aboard the ill-fated Carnival cruise. 

The Southeast Texas Record reports that twenty passengers filed suit in federal court for the eastern district of Texas (Beaumont Division) for compensation due to the February 11, 2013 engine room fire which caused the cruise ship to drift for five days in the Gulf of Mexico. 

The lawsuit alleges facts well known to the public at this point: passengers claim that they were Carnival Triumph Poop Cruise"exposed to urine and feces, along with odors of raw sewage, which spilled and leaked through the ceilings, walls, and floors". In addition, the passengers allege that they were exposed to extreme heat and cold temperatures, and waited in long lines for hours for inadequate and rationed water and food.

The passengers allege theories of negligence, breach of maritime contract, negligent misrepresentation, fraud by non-disclosure, and fraud.

The newspaper indicates that the lawsuit seeks damages for discomfort, medical expenses, mental anguish, emotional distress, lost earnings, lost vacation time, pecuniary and out-of pocket damages, including cost of cruise, transportation, additional food and lodging and incidentals costs, punitive damages, interest and court costs.

A separate lawsuit was also filed in the same courthouse in Beaumont by a passenger and his eye care clinic claiming that business was lost because employees were stranded at sea on a the disabled Cruise ship.

According to allegations in the lawsuit reported by the Southeast Texas Record, Carnival was aware of the mechanical problems on board the cruise ship and knew the vessel was not “sufficiently seaworthy” to provide a safe, sanitary and enjoyable voyage.

The lawsuit alleges theories of unconscionability, misrepresentation, fraudulent inducement, negligence and fraud.

You can read more about the claim from the Houston Chronicle: Beaumont Man Sues After Entire Staff Stuck on Carnival Cruise

The typical Carnival ticket requires that lawsuits of this type must be filed in federal court in Miami. 

Triumph Poop Cruise Lawsuit Abandoned

A legal journal in Texas is reporting that the first and only lawsuit filed in Galveston County regarding the disabled Carnival Triumph cruise ship has ended with a voluntary dismissal. 

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Kathy Marie Armstrong who was among the 3,000 or so passengers who sailed from Galveston on February 7 2013.  The Carnival cruise ship became stranded in the Gulf of Mexico after a fire in the ship's engine room knocked out power. 

The Southeast Texas Record explains that Ms. Armstrong lawsuit alleged that  she endured what she described as deplorable, unsafe and unsanitary conditions, including “sweltering temperatures, lack of power and air conditioning, lack of hot or running water and lack of working toilets.” Ms. Armstrong Carnival Triumph Poop Cruiseclaimed that she “feared for her life and safety, under constant threat of contracting serious illness by the raw sewage filling the vessel, and suffering actual or some bodily injury” as the cruise ship was towed back to the U.S. 

The lawsuit further alleged “the vessel listed sharply several times, causing human waste to spill out of non-functioning toilets, flood across the vessel’s floors and halls and drip down the vessel’s walls.”

Ms. Armstrong labeled “a floating toilet, a floating Petri dish . . . a floating Hell.” 

The Carnival passenger ticket requires that all claims involving Carnival must be filed in federal court here in Miami. Carnival did not file a response to the lawsuit. The probable outcome was either a nominal settlement or Ms. Armstrong's lawyers agreed to a request to voluntarily dismiss the case.  

Still pending in Miami is a lawsuit filed by passengers seeking to assert a class action against Carnival for the cruise in question.  

Carnival Triumph Breaks Mooring in Mobile

Multiple news outlets are reporting that the infamous Carnival Triumph cruise ship has broken loose from its lines at a port facility in Mobile Alabama where it has been moored since February 14th and drifted from the dock.

The cruise ship sustained some damage, with one news outlet reporting that the ship sustained a hole on the starboard side of the stern.  You can see the damage to the vessel in a photo here and below via WKRG. Some news stations are reporting that dock workers may have fallen into the water.

We will update this once we receive additional information. 

April 3 2013 Update: An employee of BAE Systems that operates the shipyard fell into the water and remains missing.  

Photo Credit: Top - Melvin Evins / Twitter @mle724; Bottom - WKRG

Carnival Triumph Breaks Loose

 Carnival Triumph Breaks Loose

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.

 

Where Are Photos of the Triumph Engine Room Fire?

Cruise lines do a great job keeping photographs and video of cruise ship fires away from the public.

Has anyone seen photos of the engine room of the Triumph, which is just the latest cruise ship to become disabled?  Or the engine room of the Carnival Splendor?  The Costa Allegra?  Royal Caribbean's Azamara Quest?

Cruise lines prefer to keep the images out of public sight and then say that the fire was "small" and "quickly Carnival Triumph Engine Room Fire Photoextinguished."  

A few photos have seen the light of day such as the catastrophic explosion aboard the Queen Mary 2 in 2010 and, of course, the deadly fire aboard the Star Princess in 2006.

I'd like to see exactly what happened on the Triumph.

But the chances of the Bahamas Maritime Authority releasing photos seems somewhere between slim and none. No need for the Bahamas to embarrass its customer, Carnival, I suppose.   

The only photo I am aware of involving the Triumph was released by the U.S. Coast Guard but it does not show much except the back of a Coast Guard representative in the engine room. Kinda of a PR shot for the Coast Guard, we-are-on-the-job-so-don't-worry kind of thing. Great, but how about a report and some friggin' photos for a change? We know the Bahamians won't release anything.

One crew member sent me the photo below of the Triumph after it was towed into Mobile and asked me not to mention his name.

But I believe that the soot on the stern shown in the photo was probably caused by smoke from the exhaust of the diesel engines of the tugs. You can also see where the tugs rubbed against the stern. I'm not 100% about this. If you have a thought, please leave a comment below or on our Facebook page.     

So does anyone have photos of the engine room in the Triumph or, for that matter, the Splendor, the Allegra or the Quest?

Carnival Triumph Cruise Ship Fire

Cruise Ship Fires & Missing Children: Will the Bahamas Ever Release Reports?

The fire on the Carnival Triumph cruise ship is being investigated by the Bahamas because Carnival elected to register the Triumph in that country to avoid U.S. taxes, labor and safety laws. As the "flag state" for the Triumph, the Bahamas is charged with the responsibility of investigating fires, casualties and crimes on that ship. The Bahamas requested the involvement of the U.S. Coast Guard as well as the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

The questions arise will the Bahamas really conduct an objective and honest investigation? Will it ever release a copy of the final report into the investigation into the fire?  And if so, when?

Carnival Triumph Cruise Ship Fire In considering these questions, remember that in the last disabling fire on a Carnival cruise ship several years ago, the public has still not seen the report of the flag state. In November 2010, the Carnival Splendor caught on fire and was disabled.  Because Carnival flagged the Splendor in Panama, Panama was responsible for the official investigation. Panama called upon the U.S. Coast Guard to assist it. The Coast Guard finished its reports to the officials in Panama long ago.

The Coast Guard quickly sent out "marine safety alerts" about the design defects and construction and maintenance shortcomings in the Splendor engine room.  Remarkably, the Coast Guard did not even identify the Splendor in its alerts.

It's now going on two and one-half years later but Panama still has not released a report.

Will Panama ever release the report?  Not if Carnival doesn't want it to.

Who has authority to force Panama or the Bahamas to release a report or punish them if they refuseto do so?  No one. There is no U.S. federal oversight organization. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is toothless.  A former NTSB chairman called the IMO a "paper tiger."  This is exactly how the cruise lines want the system to work.

Two years ago, Disney youth counselor Rebecca Coriam disappeared from the Disney Wonder cruise ship.  The Bahamas was responsible for investigating the disappearance because Disney registered Disney Cruises Rebecca Coriamthe Wonder in Nassau to avoid U.S. taxes, labor and safety laws.  

The Bahamas sent a lone policeman to Los Angeles to meet the cruise ship when it returned to port. He conducted a short visit on the ship and concluded his report long ago. But the Bahamas refuses to send Rebecca's mother and father a copy of the report.  

After the Triumph was towed to Mobile, a newspaper article appeared in a Bahamian newspaper that the Bahamas was sending detectives to the U.S. to investigate a sexual assault on the Triumph. The Bahamas denied that the ship where the rape was alleged was the Triumph. It disclosed only that a Bahamian flagged ship was involved. The Bahamas promised to provide information once its detectives returned from the U.S. Of course, it has released nothing.    

If your child vanishes on the high seas, or you are raped during a cruise, or your family flounders for a week on a stinky fire-stricken ship, flag states like the Bahamas and Panama don't believe that they have any obligation to release any information to you.  Their alliances are with the cruise lines which fly their flags. Companies like Carnival and Disney hide behind the foreign flags and are complicit in the conspiracy to deceive the public.

It's a dishonest, secretive, rotten system.  Its a system designed to conceal the truth and to avoid the foreign flagged cruise lines from embarrassment.  

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

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The Left Wing Conspiracy Against the Evil Cruise Industry & George Bush

Are there any Rush Limbaugh fans out there?

Today's blog may be of particular interest to you if you are.

It seems that Rush doesn't like the criticism voiced against the cruise industry as the Carnival Triumph was towed back to Mobile last week. He does not like the references to the fact that cruise lines are incorporated in foreign countries to avoid taxes, labor laws and safety regulations.

As you can read in the transcript here of his show, he quoted everyone who made a critical comment of Rush Limbaugh Cruise Ship DiatribeCarnival on the CNN broadcasts.  He mocked Erin Burnett, Howard Clark, Donny Deutsch, Martin Savidge. He even quoted me, for goodness sake, when I was on a CNN show as a set-up to his talking points:

JIM WALKER:  "Foreign-incorporated companies that are essentially registering their operations overseas to avoid US taxes."

Rush then launched into a classic diatribe, mocking the criticism of the cruise industry::

RUSH: "Yeah, but look at what they do. "They register these ships outside the US. They don't pay any US taxes. The cruise ship passengers have no rights. They're basically slaves -- and if there's sewage on the walls? Big whoop. We'll tow you in when we get a chance -- and after we get you, the bus that we transport you in will break down, and then for all your trouble we'll give you a refund and a 15% discount on the next cruise of your choice. What a bunch of rotten SOBs!" 

He eventually explained his argument that:  

"Make no mistake. Make no mistake. The whole point of this was to impugn the entire cruise industry and this particular cruise line as having some linkage to Bush." 

Rush then rambled on with his radio broadcast trying to tie in his diatribe about the alleged left-wing conspiracy against cruise lines and George Bush to his rant against women and Hispanics and farm workers and President Obama and Reverend Wright. After a few minutes I had no idea what he was talking about except that he somehow implicated me in some type of conspiracy against George Bush.

I suppose that it's funny to be accused of being part of such a clandestine plot. I must be a secret agent or master spy or spooky sleuth or member of an illegal coalition against America, according to Rush. I suppose that criticizing a major corporation or participating in anything not officially sanctioned by a corporation is an act of conspiracy, rebellion or Rush Limbaugh Taxestreason.

Why is it that ultra-conservative Republicans love cruise lines which pay no taxes?  Last summer, Newt Gingrich disappeared from his Republican Presidential campaign because he could not resist a luxury cruise aboard a foreign flagged cruise ship in the Mediterranean.

I have never reconciled the maniacal bashing of President Obama for somehow not being "American" enough with the hard core Republican love of the tax-avoiding-foreign-incorporated cruise industry.

At the bottom of Rush's web page I could not help but notice a banner ad featuring Rush posing for a company that fights paying taxes to the federal government.

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.     

Sex Attack Alleged On Carnival Cruise Ship

Carnival Cruise Ship RapeJust when you think that things could not get any worse for Carnival, news is just breaking that authorities are investigating what is being characterized as a "sex attack" on a Carnival cruise ship. 

A newspaper in the Bahamas is reporting that a team of of detectives from Nassau to Galveston, Texas yesterday to investigate an alleged sexual assault that occurred on a Carnival cruise ship.

The newspaper identified the cruise ship as the Triumph, which has remained in the headlines after it caught fire and had to be towed back to port.  However, the Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA) reportedly stated that the incident did not involve the Triumph.  The BMA said that it was investigating a Bahamian registered vessel but not the Triumph. The BMA did not even acknowledge that they were investigating a cruise ship. 

The country of the Bahamas is responsible for investigating fires and collisions as well as crimes which occur on cruise ships flying the flag of the Bahamas.

Here's what the Bahamian newspaper is reporting: 

While the Bahamas Maritime Authority is leading the investigation into what caused the fire, detectives from the Royal Bahamas Police Force are also investigating a sexual offence claim, Assistant Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson said yesterday.

“We send some officers to Texas to head up the investigation. The ship is a Bahamian Flag Ship so wherever something happens we have to tend it. The officers went over there this morning and should be back sometime tomorrow. They are investigating a sexual offence matter that happened on the cruise. We should have some more information tomorrow on the matter.”

A statement is also expected from the Maritime Authority, according to London Representative Dwain Hutchinson. He said an investigation is underway and a statement will be released to the press “soon.”

Carnival flags six of its ships in the Bahamas, including the Destiny, Fascination, Imagination, Inspiration, Sensation and the Triumph.

Sexual assaults on cruise ships are one of the cruise industry's nastiest secrets.  We have attended several Congressional hearings which have studied the problem. There has been expert testimony before Congress that the risk of being raped at sea on a cruise ship is twice that of being attacked ashore.  

February 18, 2013 Update:  Carnival say that the incident but it does not appear to be related to any Carnival ships.

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

Troubled Waters: The Carnival Triumph

Last night ABC News aired a one hour special on 20/20 following the Triumph cruise ship fire.

In the video below, you will hear from passengers on the "cruise from hell" talk about their experiences, and see the Carnival marketing and PR people run away from ABC's cameras.

I answered a few questions, and explained that unlike the U.S. commercial aviation industry with strict oversight by the FAA, there is no comparable federal oversight over the cruise industry. 

 

 

Carnival Triumph Passengers Happy to Be Home

Carnival Cruise Triumph FireThe long tortuous tow back to Mobile ended last night with smiles of relief on the faces of the over-3,000-passengers as they straggled off the stinking stricken Triumph.  It was a happy sight to me. Yes, there were people still upset, understandably so, but the sentiment seems to be that they had all encountered a surreal experienced and had survived.

Cruise ship fires do not always turn out this well.  I have represented clients who waved goodbye to their loved one as they boarded a cruise ship only to return in a body bag.

Yesterday I was asked a dozen times during interviews about the rights of passengers when things like this happen on the high seas.  

The cruise lines have drafted terms and conditions in the cruise passenger tickets (considered by the courts to be the legal, binding contract) to protect themselves in virtually every imaginable circumstance.  Unless a passenger is physically injured or become physically ill (say due to the unsanitary conditions of sewage on the ship), they have virtually no rights at all.

The good news is that It appears that there were no injuries due to the fire. There very well may be no serious medical illnesses notwithstanding the seriously disgusting circumstances aboard the ship.       

  

 

Photo credit: Getty Images / NY Daily News

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. 

Who Pays for the U.S. Coast Guard to Respond to Cruise Ships in Distress? You Do!

At this moment the 210 foot Coast Guard cutter Vigorous is escorting the disabled Carnival Triumph back to the U.S. The Coast Guard performs a remarkable job responding to emergencies such as cruise ship fires and the numerous helicopter medevacs involving ill or injured passengers who need medical treatment back here in the U.S.

But who pays for these services?  

Cruise lines have no obligation to pay the Coast Guard or other U.S. federal agencies for services like this. Most people don't know this. Many people also don't realize that the cruise industry pays no U.S. federal taxes because companies like Carnival and Royal Caribbean are registered in foreign Coast Guard Vigorous - Carnival Triumphcountries like Panama and Liberia and fly the flag of countries like the Bahamas.  The industry collects around $35 billion a year, mostly from tax-paying U.S. citizens. But unlike you or me, the cruise lines are essentially exempt from paying the U.S. government anything on all of the billions and billions it collects each month.

So when it comes to paying for a Coast Guard escort of a foreign flagged ship back to an American port, you pay. That's right. Joe the plumber pays. Even though the cruise lines pay no federal taxes and you do, you pay. Even when the cruise ship fire occurs due to the negligence of the cruise line, you pay. 

Remember the last cruise engine fire which disabled the Carnival Splendor in November 2010?  The U.S. sent out an aircraft carrier (U.S. Ronald Reagan) and various U.S. Coast Guard vessels. You paid for all of that too.

The CEO of the International Cruise Victims (ICV) organization Ken Carver, requested information from the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA") request. The U.S. Navy timely responded to Mr. Carver's FOIA request. The Navy disclosed that it delivered 60 pallets, weighing over 37,000 pounds, of "bread, luncheon meat, pop tarts, canned crab, water and paper plates."

Considering the cost of positioning an aircraft carrier, dispatching multiple aircraft and helicopters, and delivering tons of food and water to be dropped onto the cruise ship, the Navy stated that it spent $1,884,376.75 responding to the fire aboard the Carnival Splendor cruise ship. 

This figure does not include the costs incurred by the U.S. Coast Guard in responding to the crisis. Unfortunately, the Coast Guard has not yet provided any information in response to Mr. Carver's FOIA request dating back to earlier last year.

The Coast Guard's costs were undoubtedly another $2,000,000 or so in personnel and fuel costs for their vessels and helicopters.

I mentioned this issue last year in an article Your Tax Dollars At Sea - Who Pays When Things Go Wrong on Cruises? 

So here we are again with another foreign-flagged cruise ship disabled due to fire, operated by a foreign incorporated cruise line which pays no U.S. income taxes calling on good ole Uncle Sam to spend a few million dollars to bail it out.

Its time to re-examine why these cruise lines collect billions but pay no taxes and why you and me have to pay when their cruise ships catch on fire on the high seas and they call on U.S federal agencies for help.     

Carnival Triumph Fire: "Nightmare Cruise" Stories Dominate the News

Carnival Triumph Cruise Ship Fire Yesterday all of the major news stations were airing updates on the latest Carnival cruise ship fire. "Cruise from hell, "nightmare cruise" and so forth were the headlines.

It was like deja vu hearing the stories of loss of power, no air conditioning, hot cabins, cold food and toilets on the Triumph that did not work.  

ABC aired a rather sensational program yesterday, with images of the disabled ship bobbing like a big cork in the water, passengers literally crying that they want to go home, and accusations by other passengers that Carnival risked innocent lives by ignoring prior engine problems.

It may seem like the end of the world to many passengers on the entirely unpleasant cruise ship as well as to the concerned families back home. If the fire had spread, it might have been the end for the passengers. But It seems that most people have forgotten about an identical engine room fire which disabled the Carnival Splendor cruise ship back in November 2010. After everyone received a full reimbursement of the fare and flight expenses, it seemed like everyone forgot about the cruise from hell.

There was no Congressional investigation and no calls for a fleet wide inspection of the engines on Carnival's ships.    

Will this latest Carnival cruise fire be as easily forgotten?   

I posted images of the ABC special here. Click on each photo for a larger image and the captions.

You can read our initial article about the fire here, and our article about prior engine problems on the Triumph here.  

Nightmare Cruise - Carnival Triumph

Photo credit bottom - Lisa Hirtz via ABC News

Carnival Triumph Plagued By Prior Propulsion Problems

When the news broke that the Carnival Triumph's engines failed due to a fire while the cruise ship was 150 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico, passengers on prior cruises quickly began voicing their concerns about propulsion problems on prior cruises.

You can read the comments to our article on Sunday entitled Here We Go Again: Engine Room Fire Cripples Carnival Triumph Cruise Ship where Carnival passengers across the country stated that their cruises had been marred by missed ports and slow voyages due to propulsion issues.

Other websites, such as the popular Maritime Matters, posted numerous comments from concerned Carnival Triumph Cruise Ship Firecruisers about prior engine problems on the Triumph.  

There were also a number news stations which aired stories about persistent problems about this Carnival cruise ship. KLTV aired a program Texans Angry Over Cruise Experience (video) where one Carnival passenger complained about the cruise line's decision to "put money ahead of safety."

The problem in cases like this is that the cruise lines operate their ships virtually 24 hours a days, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year.  The ships have a tight itinerary, rushing from port to port, and then disembarking several thousand passengers and re-loading the ship to head out again. Down time for a few days for maintenance means many millions of dollars lost and lots of unhappy customers. So the ships (as well as the crew) are pushed to and sometimes past their limits.   

One of the readers of our Cruise Law News Facebook page made this insightful observation yesterday:

"Money Talks - It is sad to hear that the news is now surfacing that prior to this ill-fated cruise that there were issues on recent previous cruises, which will cause a lot of backlash against the company. If an enquiry is launched it could mean trouble for Carnival. I just want to mention that crew onboard are mostly tip driven and senior officers are incentivised on revenue, so the motivation to ensure the cruise happens is pretty high from a crew and officer point of view. If the ship could not leave port it would mean that not only does the company lose revenue, the crew would be put at a disadvantage financially as well."

Have a thought?  Please leave a comment.

Photo credit: U.S. Coast Guard / Reuters

Here We Go Again: Engine Room Fire Cripples Carnival Triumph Cruise Ship

Carnival Triumph Cruise Ship FireThis morning, the Carnival Triumph lost propulsion in the Gulf of Mexico after an engine room fire disabled its main engines.  The cruise ship’s fire suppression system kept the fire from spreading.

No injuries have been disclosed. Carnival says that all guests will receive a full refund and transportation expenses.

The next cruise scheduled is for tomorrow, February 11th. Passengers have been told that the cruise will not depart and they can cancel and receive a full refund or wait and see if the ship will sail later on a shortened cruise. 

News sources say that the fire broke out while the cruise ship was sailing about 150 miles off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, after sailing from Galveston on February 7th.

The ship's generator power is working but the cruise ship has no propulsion to return to port in Galveston. Some news sources are saying that tugs were deployed.

Carnival has experienced more than its fair shares of fires. The best known incident was the fire aboard the Carnival Splendor in November 2010.  The ship lost all power and had to be towed to San Diego (photo below right). The U.S. Coast Guard investigated and said that the Carnival Splendor CO2 firefighting system was a "recipe for failure."

It will be interesting to hear about how this fire started. The Triumph is an old ship, coming on line in 1999. 

Carnival Splendor Cruise Ship FireThere have been lots of fires and explosions on the major cruise lines in the last two years, including the Queen Mary 2, MSC Musica, Ocean Star, another fire aboard the Queen Mary 2, Bahamas Celebration, Costa Allegra, Azamara Quest, the Allure, the Carnival Breeze, Crown Princess, and the Adventure of the Seas - not to mention the smaller river cruise ships. 

Cruise ship fires are not uncommon. There have been over 90 fires on cruise ships since 1990

That's a little more than 4 a year.

Expect the cruise lines and cruise cheerleaders to down-play this latest fire but don't be fooled. Read our article "Ten Years of Cruise Ship Fires - Has the Cruise Industry Learned Anything?"

 

Photo credit: Carnival Triumph - Wikipedia / Scott L.

A Shot Across The Bow - Lawyers for German Tourist, Killed in Costa Concordia Disaster, Seize the Carnival Triumph

There is a lot of controversy today about the seizure of the Carnival Triumph cruise ship in Galveston. Lawyers in Mississippi and Texas who are representing the family of a German woman killed on the Costa Concordia filed a lawsuit against Carnival in Galveston.  In addition to the lawsuit, they filed a motion to obtain an order of attachment of a Carnival cruise ship (the Triumph) which is ported in Galveston.  

I have received lots of inquiries about the issue this afternoon.  Can someone just fill out some paperwork and seize a cruise ship like this?  Why is the Carnival Triumph being seized in Texas for something the Costa Concordia, operated by a separate cruise line, did in Italy?  Is this legal?

All good questions.

Carnival Triumph Arrest - GalvestonMaritime attachments or writs of garnishment are not uncommon. The legal mechanism of seizing a vessel is an effective tool when the vessel owner is in default of its legal obligations, like falling behind on the payment of a ship mortgage, or refusing to pay crew member wages, or refusing to pay for provisions or services rendered on behalf of a ship.

Vessel seizures (often called "attachments" or "arrests") are necessary when the defendant is a foreign corporation, which is not subject to the jurisdiction of the local courts, and its vessel is about to leave the jurisdiction and not return.  It's a good way to obtain jurisdiction and make the company post a bond. If the seizure is proper, then the company has to post a bond to cover its outstanding financial obligations and court / U.S. Marshall costs in order for its vessel to leave port.   

I remember the first time I seized a ship.  It was in 1983 and I was fresh out of law school.  A Greek crew member was owed wages which the shipowner refused to pay.  He hired me to collect around $15,000 in unpaid wages. The lawyer for the shipowner had around 30 years of experience under his belt and was not taking me or my client seriously.  The defense lawyer kept saying that the shipping company was going to pay my client.  But he kept stalling and making excuses.

One afternoon I learned that the ship was planning on departing the port of New Orleans late that night. If I later obtained a judgment on behalf of my client, I knew that it would not be worth the paper it was written on because the shipping company was based in Greece.  I had to shut the ship down.

I quickly typed up a writ of maritime attachment, completed an affidavit and ran down to the Federal courthouse to file the writ and affidavit.  My secretary meanwhile called the U.S. Marshall's office telling them that we expected to have an order seizing the Greek ship shortly, while also asking for directions for me to find the Marshall's office.

Later that evening the Marshall's office served the vessel with the attachment order.  Shortly thereafter, I received a frantic call from the defense lawyer who was now motivated to do what he had been promising to do for six weeks. We met at a shipping warehouse off of Tchoupitoulas Street.  After we resolved the payment issues, I called the Marshall's office which released the ship to sail down the Mississippi River into the night.     

So what does this have to do with the seizure of the Triumph in Galveston?  Nothing, quite frankly. Carnival owes no unpaid debt to the German family.  As sympathetic as I am to the loss of life involved, the fact remains that the death occurred on another cruise ship operated by another cruise line in another country.   

The proper location for lawsuits arising out of the Concordia is Genoa, Italy.  The proper defendant? Costa Crociere, the operator of the cruise ship.  I am no fan of cruise lines, but the facts are the facts. This is an Italian cruise ship.  It is flagged in Italy.  Costa is incorporated in Italy.  Its principal place of business is Genoa, Italy.  The cruise tickets issued to the passengers specify that all disputes must Carnival Triumph Cruise Ship - Arrest - Galvestonbe resolved in Genoa, Italy.  The accident, after all, occurred in Italian waters and is being investigated by the Italian Coast Guard.  There are criminal proceedings in Italy against the Italian captain.

It may well be that seizing the cruise ship was a ploy to try and keep the case in Galveston, whose judges are friendlier to individuals than our Federal courts in Miami, and to take Carnival's home court advantage away.  But there is no connection between the Concordia and Texas.  These passengers are from Germany, for goodness sakes. There is no good reason to seize a Carnival cruise ship for the sins of another cruise ship operated by a different company. 

Unlike the fly-by-night Greek shipping company that tried to rip off my client 29 years ago, Carnival is not going anywhere.  It has tens of billions of dollars in assets here in Miami.  The lawyers who don't want to sue in Genoa can file suit here in Miami, like others have done, and take their chances.  There are many hundreds of lawsuits filed against Carnival here every year.  It would be bedlam if a cruise ship was seized every time a lawsuit was filed.  

So what is this all about? 

The main lawyer for the German family is John Eaves Jr., who practices in Jackson, Mississippi. He told Bloomberg Businesseek that “We’ve not been able to get Carnival’s attention, so this is our shot over the bow to let them know we’re serious about changing the law and maritime standards,” Eaves said. “We want a uniform set of safety standards, and we won’t stop until we get it.”

Seizing a cruise ship to make a point is not a good idea.  Mr. Eaves seems well intended.  Yet, an attachment is not legally required nor justified in these circumstances. The public doesn't like it.  The families on the Triumph don't deserve the hassle. 

Stricter maritime safety laws are needed no doubt.  That's what Congress is for.  I know, I have attended seven Congressional hearings. The process is slow and often discouraging.  But jacking up a cruise line like this is not the way to do it.  

 

Read the lawsuit here: Kai Stumpf v. Carnival Plc, 3:12-cv-0099, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas (Galveston)

Photo credit: Top: Sims Travel; bottom: Eaves Law Firm

 

April 1, 2012 Update: The Triumph sailed on time out of Galveston.  There is no indication that Carnival was required to post a bond.  Newspaper accounts indicate that the issue of the vessel arrest was resolved through a "confidential agreement" between the parties.  The Houston Chronicle quoted me in an earlier article about the issue which can be read here