Miami is called the Cruise Ship Capital of the World.
Most of the major cruise lines are based in South Florida. Azimara, Carnival, Celebrity, Costa, MSC Cruises, Norwegian, Oceania, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Seabourn, SeaDream, Silversea, and Star Clippers all call Miami or Fort Lauderdale their headquarters.
And if you are injured on one of these cruise ships anywhere in the world, the cruise lines require passengers to make a claim in South Florida – no matter where you live or what port you may have sailed from.
Twenty years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the right of Carnival cruise line to enforce a "forum selection clause" in a passenger’s ticket which requires passengers to file their claims in Miami, Florida. The case is called Shute v. Carnival. The Shute family was from Oregon and a family member was injured after sailing from Los Angeles to Mexico.
The Shute family tried to file suit in Oregon. Carnival moved to dismiss the case because there was a clause in the Shutes’ ticket requiring that all lawsuits against Carnival must be filed in Miami, where Carnival in headquartered. The Shutes argued that having to travel several thousands of miles to Miami was an economic hardship. And why should Carnival – which registered its business in Panama to avoid U.S. taxes – have a home court advantage in Miami for every case? But the U.S. Supreme Court sided with Carnival and ruled that the Shute family had to file suit in Miami and be prepared to fly here to pursue their case.
Since the Shute decision, all cruise lines have included "forum selection" clauses in the passengers’ cruise tickets. Most cruise lines require that the lawsuit be filed here in Miami. These clauses are legally binding and the cruise line will always enforce them.
The passengers’ cruise tickets also require that the passenger (or their lawyer) notify the cruise line of the accident and intention of filing a lawsuit within six (6) months of the accident and the lawsuit must be filed within one (1) year.
If you are a passenger interested in further information, please consider reading:
Cruise Passenger Rights and Wrongs – Interview With Maritime Lawyer Jim Walker
Cruise Law Photos – Clients, Causes, Cruise Ships and Cruise Law Team
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