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.
The 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:
"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