Today, the Miami Daily Business Review (DBR) reported on an arbitration award entered against Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) on behalf of a seriously injured crew member.

The DBR article, titled “Miami Attorney Helps Secure $3.3M for Man Whose Arm Was Amputated After Seeking Care for Flu-Like Symptoms,” explains that the case involved a 30 year-old crew member from Serbia by the name of Ilija Loncar who was employed by NCL as a waiter aboard the Norwegian Breakaway.

Mr. Loncar, who previously worked as a carpenter prior to working on the NCL cruise ship, was treated by the NCL shipboard team for flu-like symptoms in March of 2016. NCL had earlier hired a doctor, Sebastian Campuzano, who the arbitrator described as a “young, inexperienced, Columbia trained physician (licensed in 2013) who was hired by NCL just 4 months before the subject accident.”

Dr. Campuzano prescribed promethazine which the ship nurse injected in a massive dose too quickly, causing an intensely painful and  harmful reaction.  NCL then failed to timely medically evacuate Mr. Loncar from the ship, squandering any chance his arm could be saved.  As a result of the malpractice and delayed medical evacuation, Mr. Loncar developed Compartment Syndrone and required the eventual amputation of his dominant right arm.

The arbitrator’s decision reflects what appears to be completely abysmal medical care by an inept doctor and nurse who demonstrated a complete lack of basic medical knowledge, training and experience. The arbitrator found that: Dr. Campuzano had no experience or familiarity with the drug which he ordered to be mistakenly injected intravenously in Mr. Loncar’s arm rather than intramuscularly in his buttocks; he first attempted to schedule a consultation via the internet with a medical facility in South Florida for advice but he gave up after he could not establish a connection; he didn’t read the relevant physician desk book, medical literature, package inserts or warnings for the medication; he never warned Mr. Loncar of the risks associated with the medicine or obtain his informed consent; and he didn’t consider ordering a lower dosage or other medicines available on the ship which did not contain the risk of such catastrophic injury.

Dr. Campuzano tried to refute his deposition admissions after the fact via an “errata sheet” which the arbitrator rejected. The decision seems to indicate that the arbitrator did not find Dr. Campuzano or the ship nurse (Marco Oracion) or NCL’s defense particularly credible.

The case was the result of “arbitration.” NCL is one of many cruise lines which prohibit injured crew members from filing cases in the U.S. legal system and require them to pursue “arbitration” cases where a single arbitrator, paid by the cruise lines, applies the law of the Bahamas.  NCL started the trend toward arbitration after a decrepit, poorly maintained steam boiler on NCL’s 40+ year-old SS Norway exploded at the port of Miami in 2003. The explosion killed eight NCL crew members and seriously burned another nineteen crew members. NCL forced the families of the dead Filipinos to pursue the limited benefits permitted under Filipino law, as opposed to the full range of damages permitted under U.S. law.

The arbitration award, which you can view here, was rendered in June of this year. The arbitrator awarded past pain and suffering in the amount of $337,500, and $3,000,000 for future pain and suffering (estimated at 48 years), loss of future earning capacity (over the course of 35 years) and future medical expenses, including the replacement of the crew member’s prosthesis.

One of the reasons NCL requires arbitration (as opposed to a trial by a U.S. jury) is to keep awards to a minimum in catastrophic injury cases like this.

The case was handled by Thomas Scolaro and  Mason Kerns of the Leesfield Scolaro firm here in Miami. NCL was represented by  Curtis Mase and Larry Krutchik of the Mase, Mebane and Briggs firm.

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Photo credit: Dickelbers (Dick Elbers) CC 3.0 wikipedia / commons.

 

NCL Holdings president and CEO Frank Dek Rio rang the bell this morning at the New York Stock Exchange in celebration of the five year anniversary of NCL’s listing. Del Rio was later interviewed by CNBC when he was asked about cyclone Grayson, often called the “bomb cyclone” storm, which terrorized the passengers aboard the Norwegian Breakaway as it sailed into the storm while heading back to New York last week.

Smiling, CEO Del Rio stated this morning (video link here) to a national television audience:

NCL Cruise CEO Frank Del Rio  . . . weather can be unpredictable . . . and that’s what happened this weekend . . . the great news is our ship is back in the Caribbean carrying 4,000 happy cruisers . . . so . . . all good. 

Meterologists all agree that the storm was perfectly forecasted well in advance. Many of the traumatized passengers on the Breakaway felt that NCL’s priority was to get back to port in New York to pick up new passengers so NCL would not lose any money. (You can read about NCL recklessly sailing into the storm in this article by Mashable).

Del Rio’s insensitive, flippant comments are typical for this greedy cruise CEO, who made $31,900,000 in 2015 alone.  Last year, he told the audience at last year’s Seatrade Global conference that he loved fewer regulations under President Trump because “they make us money.” In 2005, he defended NCL’s increase in gratuities by saying “every dollar increase in yield translates to approximately $15 million to the bottom line.” And in 2005 at the Miami Cruise Shipping trade show, he told the audience that “Libya, Syria, Egypt, and Lebanon could be more lucrative than Cuba.” (I couldn’t help tweeting at the time “have you heard of ISIS?”) The next day, fanatics targeted cruise-ship passengers who sailed into the Capital of Tunisa, slaughtering and injuring 38 passengers.

I posted Del Rio’s interview on our Cruise Law News Facebook page, and quickly received the following comments:

  • Weather in the 21st Century is not ALL that “unpredictable.” Responsible Officers have to get up to date conditions and forecasts and make responsible decisions based upon that information. That “responsible decision ” would NOT have been to sail through the conditions the Master took that ship through. “Responsible Corporate Management would not have embarked passengers or planned port calls with passengers embarked,for Mid Winter cruises from Northern latitude Atlantic ports such as New York in this season. Greed can be the ONLY reason for such actions.
  • Clearly, he is totally out of touch and lying through his teeth. The weather had been predicted days prior.
  • Admit nothing deny everything. What a putz.
  • Fat Cat personified.
  • That ship should have cancelled the cruise with the advance weather report they had.

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Photos/Videos: CNBC.

Opening Bell, January 11, 2018 from CNBC.

Norwegian Breakaway This week, a number of passengers contacted our office after returning from the harrowing end of their ill fated cruise aboard NCL’s Norwegian Breakaway.

News accounts indicate that on January 2, 2018, the Breakaway stopped at its private island, Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas. Videos available online show the weather, initially calm and pleasant, turning rough as the passengers used tenders to return to the cruise ship. This was a foreshadowing of things to come.

By this date, and as early as December 31, 2017, weather forecasters were unanimously predicting that a huge storm would form off the U.S.’s southeast coast and head north later in the week.

But Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) stuck with its itinerary and subjected the passengers to several days of extreme winds and waves as the hurricane-strength storm pounded the cruise ship on January 3rd and 4th. Water leaked into the ship as passengers complained on social media of panic and seasickness with several dozens of frightended passengers sleeping in the ship’s atrium. CBS quoted one passenger as saying that “there were people crying, everyone was throwing up. It was a nightmare. It was so tilted I was shaking.”

Many passengers complained about a lack of communication from the captain.

NCL downplayed the incident which infuriated many of the traumatized passengers.

In one of several statements released by NCL after the Breakaway returned to port in New York, NCL claimed that the cruise ship “encountered stronger than forecasted weather conditions.”

The cruise line’s conduct and lack of transparency are similar to the conduct of Royal Caribbean after the Anthem of the Seas cruised into a major storm which, like the Grayson “bomb cyclone,” was well forecast in advance. The captain of the Anthem claimed that the storm was not accurately forecast, which led Al Roker, the popular television weatherman on the Today Show, to state “Royal Caribbean’s claim that this was not predicted is bullfeathers.

Cruise lines ordinarily have a duty of only “reasonable care” under the circumstances. But in instances of rough weather, cruise lines have a much higher duty of care to the passengers. Some characterize this duty as the “highest duty of care” of the passengers when the ship is expected to encounter rough weather.

Our firm previously represented traumatized passengers on the Anthem of the Seas which Royal Caribbean recklessly sailed through a violent storm in 2016. You can see a video of my interview with a New Jersey television station here.

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January 10, 2018 Update: Passengers Consider Lawsuit After Norwegian Cruise Line Sails Through Winter Storm Grayson (Video).

Image credit: CBS News

NCL Norwegian Breakaway Storm

Cruise Ship MedevacThe U.S. Coast Guard was busy on Thursday and Friday with four medevacs of ill cruise ship passengers off of the coast of Florida, North Carolina and Puerto Rico. 

The Coast Guard first provided an emergency airlift on Thursday morning to a 47-year-old male passenger from the Celebrity Reflection, to a hospital in San Juan Puerto Rico.

The Celebrity cruise ship was about 35 miles north of Puerto Rico, en route from St. Kitts to Miami, when the crew requested Coast Guard assistance in transporting the man who was described as being in "medical distress" to a local hospital.

On Friday, the Coast Guard reportedly medevaced a 53-year-old woman from the Carnival Ecstasy which was approximately 150 miles east of Port Canaveral. The crew of the Ecstasy contacted the Coast Guard at around 10:43 a.m., stating that a passenger was experiencing chest pain.

The Coast Guard station in Clearwater dispatched a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter to the Carnival cruise ship. The helicopter arrived at the Ecstasy aroung at 2:30 p.m., hoisted the cruise passenger and a ship nurse, and transported them to Halifax Memorial Hospital in Daytona at around 4:45 p.m. A video of the rescue is below at the middle.

Also on Friday, the Coast Guard station in Miami deployed a MH-65 Dolphin helicopter which hoisted a 41-year-old passenger man from the Carnival Magic which was about 100 miles southwest of Key West.

The man was experiencing chest pains and was flown to the Miami-based air station, where EMS personnel drove him to Jackson Memorial Hospital. A video of the medevac is at the bottom.

A family member left a message on the Defense Video and Imagery Services (DVIDS) webpage stating:

So thankful for your service . My son-in-law is going to be fine. They put a stint in and we should be able to bring him home to North Carolina soon. God is Good !! Our prayers were answered. May God bless each of you for your service and for getting him where he needed to be to get help. Our family is grateful for all you did.

A third medevac also took place on Friday afternoon. The Coast Guard medevaced a 60 year-old man from a cruise ship off the coast of North Carolina after the crew reported that he was experiencing kidney failure.

The Coast Guard station in Elizabeth City launched an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter and a C-130 Super Hercules aircraft which arrived at the Norwegian Breakaway, around 120 miles southeast of Wilmington. The helicopter crew hoisted the man to the helicopter and transported him to the New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington for treatment. 

There is no reported inforrmation regarding the status of this NCL passenger or the other passengers who were medevaed for emergency medical treatment ashore from the Carnival Ecstasy or the Celebrity Reflection.  

The costs involved in U.S. Coast Guard medevacs are paid by the U.S. government. 

Another cruise ship medevac took place on Friday after a 66 year old woman fell and broke both of her legs on the P&O Pacific Jewel off the north-east coast of Australia (Queensland).

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Video credit: 

Top – 7News Australia.

Middle – Carnival Magic – U.S. Coast Guard District 7 via DVIDS.

Bottom – Carnival Ecstasy – Petty Officer 1st Class Luke Clayton, U.S. Coast Guard District 7 PADET Jacksonville via DVIDS. 

 

  

The U.S. Coast Guard medevaced a woman from a NCL cruise ship approximately 165 miles east of Virginia Beach today.

The Coast Guard was called for assistance after a 30-year-old woman complained of abdominal pain.

The Coast Guard helicopter crew responded to the Norwegian Breakaway and flew the woman to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.

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Several readers have contacted me complaining about Norwegian Cruise Line’s new charges on certain cruise ships (Breakaway and Getaway)

One passenger wrote: "Ncl started (secretly) charging $7.95 for room service now?!?  . . .  enough is enough . . .  So to go up from $0 to $8 is huge. I’ve never been on a cruise that charges for room service. (Other than the late night charge). This plus the increased gratuities plus increasing the auto gratuities on drinks, it’s getting crazy."

NCL Cover Charges Automatic GratuityThis passenger sent me a list of the extra charges, with room services charges, automatic gratuities and so forth together with the cover charges.

A meal for two at the chef Geoffrey Zakarian’s fancy Ocean Blue restaurant on the Breakaway with the $39 cover charges (per person) and the 18% automatic gratuity quickly turns into a $92 bill without wine.  

Wow. For that price, I’d rather go slumming on the Carnival Triumph and eat pizza for a week. 

NCL fans are suggesting that the room service charge is just on a trial basis. We shall see . . .   

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A number of news sources are reporting that a NCL cruise ship, the Norwegian Breakaway, was delayed in the Hudson River after one of its thrusters malfunctioned this morning.

The Daily News reported that the Breakaway, while returning to New York after a week-long Caribbean cruise, lost its steering as it headed toward Pier 88 on the West Side when a thruster malfunctioned. 

NCL Norwegian Breakaway Cruise ShipCoast Guard officials said they were notified of the predicament around 7:45 AM, and a tug boat assisted the cruise ship to the pier around 10 AM.

NCL didn’t mention any type of propulsion problem. A NCL spokeperson said “The ship was slightly delayed because of strong currents in the Hudson River.” 

A cruise passenger @NoelDallacco tweeted that the incident was not a big deal. She posted a photo of a tug pushing the NCL cruise ship to port. 

NCL cruise ships have experienced problems trying to make it into New York piers in the past. In 2012, the Norwegian Star cruise ship struck the pier next to an aircraft carrier at the Intrepid Museum in Manhattan. In 2008, the Norwegian Spirit smashed Pier 90 while trying to dock at Pier 88. 

Ten days ago, there was dramatic video posted on Facebook and Twitter when NCL’s Norwegian Gem was attempting to return to port to attempt a medical disembark after a passenger was injured. The cruise ship began drifting sideways toward an anchored tanker and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. (The pilot aboard the NCL ship sounds like Woody Allen). The video is from NY Harbor Webcam: 

 

 

 

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May 6 2014 Update: According to a NBC news station, "A dead 30-foot whale found on the Brooklyn side of New York Harbor Monday morning may have gotten tangled in the steering system of a cruise ship, disabling the boat for several hours, authorities said Tuesday.

The whale was found near Pier 4 on Monday, and towed to the New Jersey side of the harbor.

The NOAA Fisheries Service said it is believed to have been struck by the Norwegian Cruise Lines ship, which then stalled for several hours in the Hudson River as it was preparing to dock in Manhattan Sunday. 

NCL Norwegian BreakawayNews broke tonight that two small children were pulled from a pool from NCL’s Norwegian Breakaway as the cruise ship was sailing from New York to the Bahamas this morning. 

Both children were unresponsive. The younger child (age 4) died on the cruise ship. The other child (age 6) reportedly was medevaced by the U.S. Coast Guard accompanied by his grandmother a nurse from the ship.   

WBTW aired a video (below) of the sad events.

This is the third event in the last nine months involving children who have drowned or were permanently injured in cruise ship swimming pools.

The first tragedy involved a young child (also 4 yeas old) who slipped under the water on the Disney Fantasy cruise ship and sustained brain damage. You can read our articles below:

Dangerous Disney Cruise Ship Swimming Pool: Thoughts from a Concerned Cruiser

Imperfect Parents & Corporate Irresponsibility: Why No Lifeguards on Disney Cruise Ships?

Swimming Pool Mishap on Disney Fantasy Sends 4 Year Old to Hospital

To Disney’s credit, it subsequently began to assign lifeguards to the swimming pools on its cruise ships.

The second recent event involved the death of a young child who drowned on the Carnival Victory.  Our article is below:

6 Year Old Drowns on Carnival Victory Cruise Ship

There is never an excuse when a child drowns in a swimming pool operated by an amusement park or cruise ship. Protecting children is the joint obligation of the parents and cruise line. There needs to be a combination of both personal responsibility and corporate responsibility to take care of kids around a pool.  

The Breakaway is suppose to be one of the newer and bigger cruise ships NCL offers to the public.  It is a shame that NCL decided not to assign lifeguards to the pool from where the children were eventually pulled unconscious.  What lesson did NCL learn from the Disney and Carnival tragedies?

The cruise industry will collect between $35 and $40 billion a year, tax free, but NCL won’t assign lifeguards to the public pools?      

NCL apologized. However, cruising families with children deserve reasonable care exhibited by the cruise lines and lifeguards to watch over the public pools, not after-the-fact apologies.   

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Dickelbers

Norwegian Breakaway Cruise ShipA local CBS news station is reporting that two cruise passengers were seriously injured on a cruise ship that has docked at Port Canaveral, Florida.

The news station says that a man suffered a neck injury and a woman in her 70s suffered some type of fracture while aboard the Norwegian Breakaway.

The Orlando Sentinel also reports that the Brevard County Fire Rescue is involved responding to the injuries.  Crews responded to terminal six at Port Canaveral for a man with a neck injury around noon, according to the Fire Rescue’s Twitter page. Twenty minutes later, officials issued a trauma alert for another patient – a woman in her 70’s with a fracture. 

It is believed that both men are passengers.

The Breakaway is home ported in Manhattan and makes includes Port Canaveral as a port. 

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia (Dickelbers)

NCL Norwegian BreakawayThe Bermuda Sun reports that on September 17th a NCL cruise passenger was taken to a hospital in Bermuda after she fell two decks and was seriously injured. The woman was aboard the Norwegian Breakaway.

The newspaper states that “it is unclear where exactly on the mega-ship that the accident took place or how it happened.”

As a result, the NCL cruise ship made an early emergency stop so that the injured passenger could be taken to hospital for treatment. The Norwegian Breakaway was met with a pilot boat and the passenger was stretchered off the ship and eventually to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital by ambulance.

Cruise Critic reports that NCL stated that “the guest accidentally fell from her balcony on Deck 10 to Deck 8 and was disembarked in Bermuda for medical treatment . . .”

Following this incident, a second passenger, a 72 year old man, was taken from the cruise ship at port to the same hospital in Bermuda for a heart condition.

 

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Dickelbers