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 included 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.