Bloomberg Legal reports today that according to data which it collected over the last several years, 83 federal personal injury cases were filed against cruise lines in the first three months of 2018. Bloomberg concludes that this figure continues an upward trend over the last two years in which 188 negligence suits were filed against cruise lines in in 2017 and 164 in 2016. 

Bloomberg also states that "personal injury cases against the three biggest cruise lines – Carnival, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings – accounted for 78 to 87 percent of all federal litigation they faced over the last five years, according to the data which it collected. 

Bloomberg explains that the lawsuits "often involve slip-and-fall claims, but recent complaints also Miami Cruise Linesallege serious illnesses and injuries worsened by shipboard medical decisions."

The article does not explain that according to the terms and conditions in the passenger contracts, most cruise lines require that all legal claims be filed in the cruise line’s home city, such as Miami for Carnival, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean. These terms have been held to be binding by the United States Supreme Court in Carnival Cruise Lines, Inc. v. Shute, 499 U.S. 585 (1991).

Cruise lines based outside of Miami typically require that lawsuit be filed in the location of the city or state where their headquarters are based. For example, Holland America Line requires Seattle, Washington and Princess Cruises requires California.  

Cruise lines now require that lawsuits be filed in federal court, which is typically more conservative than state court. 

Although the article suggests that litigation against cruise lines is on the rise compared to the last two years, the fact of the matter is that lawsuits filed against the cruise industry have dropped off substantially compared to 15 years ago.

For the five year period from 2001 to 2006, there was an average of 423 lawsuits filed a year against cruise lines, according to the Miami Herald article "Law on the High Seas," by Amy Martinez (article at bottom). In contrast, for the last two years (2016-2017), there was an average of only 176 according to the data collected by Bloomberg, which is just 40% of the 2001-2006 average (even though over 50% fewer people were cruising fifteen years ago).

The reason for this decline is that most cruise lines no longer permit crew members to file lawsuits in the  U.S., but instead require the filing of international arbitration where judges and juries are not permitted. 

The only lawsuits which are now permitted to be filed against the cruise industry involve passengers who are injured during cruises.

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

Photo credit: Marc Averette – Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 wikipedia

Lawsuits Against Cruise Lines

In 2014, 1,718,131 people read 6,104,186 people pages of Cruise Law News.  

Our busiest day was April 7, 2014 when over 110,000 visitors read our article when we were the first to report on the murder of a NCL crew member in Roatan, Honduras near the port. 

Crime in ports of call was a hot topic for 2014.  Our article Top 10 Most Dangerous Cruise Destinations in the World was re-tweeted, liked or shared over 2,800 times.  We named Nassau, Bahamas as the most dangerous port in the world and said that Nassau was "one shot away" from losing the cruise industry, which placed us on television in the Bahamas and on the front cover of the Nassau Jim Walker Cruise Lawyer MiamiGuardian.

We broke a number of stories that the cruise industry would prefer that you didn’t know.  We published videos of MSC crew members dumping plastic garbage bags in a marine sanctuary in Brazil.  A number of news organizations in the U.K., Switzerland, and Australia & New Zealand republished them around the world. 

We appeared in over 100 newspapers articles and on CNN, ABC and other television and radio programs.  Our motto is "everything the cruise lines don’t want you to know," so don’t expect to see glossy photos of idyllic cruise vacations here.

The problem of passengers and crew members disappearing on the high seas continued throughout 2014. ABC News featured us in an investigation why the cruise lines are refusing to install man overboard systems in compliance with the Cruise Vessel Safety & Security Act. A few cruise lines, like Holland America Line (HAL), claim that they are testing man-overboard technology but just last week a crew member disappeared from the HAL Ryndam

The premiere legal blog in the world, Above the Law, included us as one of the "12 Awesome Law Blogs Of 2014." Lexblog picked us as the Blog of the Year and selected us as one of the top two lawyer "citizen journalists."

I was most pleased that Cruise Law News came in as number six (and the only blog written by a lawyer) out of the top twenty national cruise blogs selected by USA Today, in a national poll of cruise fans. 

Our Facebook page has over 135,000 followers, mostly crew members as well as cruise passengers and travel agents who wish to remain anonymous. We receive many thousand of comments a month. We routinely receive real-time insights into problems on cruise ships from passengers and the crew.

Thanks for reading us in 2014.  And many thanks to the passengers and crew members who sent us tips, info and videos from the high seas.

 

If you have a comment to share, please leave one below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

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!

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

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 the equivalent of at least two free cruises. 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. 

Continue Reading Cruise Passenger Rights and Wrongs – Interview With Maritime Lawyer Jim Walker

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. 

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."    

 

https://youtube.com/watch?v=bLgc1dqhCsQ%3Frel%3D0

 

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?

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.      

http://www.scribd.com/embeds/61067447/content?start_page=1&view_mode=list&access_key=key-1j8cun1v10qi390lwn6l

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 

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