Articles Posted in Cruise Injury and Maritime Law

A passenger on the Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. ill-fated Anthem of the Seas voyage earlier this month is suing the Miami-based cruise line for negligence.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court in Miami last week, the passenger alleges that Royal Caribbean was aware of the forecasted storm off the Atlantic coast that caused the line’s ship, Anthem of the Seas, to face hurricane-force winds and 30-foot waves as passengers waited in their cabins for hours for the storm to pass.

The lawsuit alleges that the cruise line chose to “send the Anthem of the Seas directly into the storm,” placing the man and the other passengers of the ship in “grave danger.” He is asking Royal Caribbean for compensatory and punitive damages.

The man said that he and his husband were told to stay in their cabins as the storm worsened in the afternoon of Feb. 7, the first full day of cruising after the 4,500-passenger, 1,500-crew ship left its port in Cape Liberty, New Jersey.

According to the suit, the pair stayed in the cabin for hours clinging onto furniture, while the ship rocked fiercely at times tipping to a 45-degree angle.

The man said he got up to use the restroom just as the ship lurched violently, causing him to be thrown 18 feet in his cabin and smash head-first into the door of the room, knocking him unconscious. The man said he sustained injuries to his head, neck, wrist and torso.

When they called the ship’s 911 number, the medical team said they were attending other injured passengers and because the man was breathing and not bleeding, instructed him to wait until the storm calmed down to seek help.

To avoid a second storm off the coast of Jacksonville, the ship reversed course and returned to port in New Jersey on Feb. 10.

The cruise line said in a statement earlier this month that the severity of the storm “far exceeded forecasts,” causing “superficial damage” to the ship.

The cruise company said it is working to improve its storm avoidance policy and adding resources to its Miami headquarters by PortMiami to better provide guidance to ship captains.

Maritime law applies to the “high seas,” which begin 24 miles from land. Maritime law is complex and can be hard to understand, especially for injury victims that are unfamiliar with cruise ship legal issues. However, in most cases, an accident, assault or other incident that leads to a cruise ship passenger being injured is governed by maritime law.

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The National Transportation Safety Board believes El Faro, the cargo ship that went missing during Hurricane Joaquin, has been found in the Atlantic Ocean about 15,000 feet below the surface.

The NTSB said the USNS Apache used sonar equipment. The technology first detected the vessel Saturday afternoon.

Specialists on the Apache will use a deep ocean remotely operated vehicle to survey and confirm the identity of the wreckage. The survey could start as early as Sunday.

NTSB said the sonar detection is consistent with a 790-foot cargo ship. The vessel appears to be upright and in one piece.

If the vessel is confirmed to be El Faro, the remote will use a video camera to document the vessel and debris field in order to locate and recover the voyage data recorder.

El Faro went missing on Oct. 1 during Hurricane Joaquin. The Coast Guard searched for the boat for many days before the NTSB contracted the U.S. Navy to take over the search.

El Faro had 28 crew members from the United States and five from Poland. The ship was heading to Puerto Rico on Sept. 29 from Jacksonville on a regularly scheduled cargo supply run.

Reports indicate that the ship had lost power, had taken on water and was listing 15 degrees but that the situation was “manageable,” in their last communication, according to ship owner TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico.

Joaquin was a Category 4 hurricane when El Faro got caught in the storm. According to reports, the ship had 391 shipping
containers on board, making it quite top-heavy as it tried to navigate through Joaquin’s 50-foot waves.

Anyone who has spent time earning a living on the ocean knows that this is a risky trade. The unpredictability of the ocean places even the most experienced of sailors and the strongest of ships in constant danger. These conditions demand professionalism from all of the crew members of any sea vessel, whether it is a cruise ship, cargo ship, fishing boat, tugboat, or anything else. Any lack of competence places all the lives on board at risk.

Despite the fact that working on the ocean is inherently dangerous, this fact alone does not absolve the shipowner, captain or crew members from being at fault if one of their employees or fellow workers suffers an injury or death due to negligence.

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The National Transportation Safety Board released its preliminary report Thursday on the investigation into the El Faro tragedy.

According to their findings, the U.S. Coast Guard received distress alerts from the 737 foot cargo ship on October 1 around 7:15 a.m.

The ship was 36 nautical miles northeast of Acklins and Crooked Islands, Bahamas, and close to the eye of Hurricane Joaquin.

The ship was en route from Jacksonville to San Juan, Puerto Rico with a cargo of containers and vehicles.

According to the NTSB report, just a few minutes before the distress alerts, the El Faro master called TOTE Maritime’s designated person ashore and reported the ship was experiencing some flooding. He said the crew had controlled the flooding but the ship was listing at 15 degrees and lost propulsion.

The Coast Guard and TOTE were unable to reestablish communication with the ship. Of the 33 crew members on the Jacksonville-based ship, 28 were U.S. citizens and five were from Poland.

The Coast Guard deployed helicopters and search vessels to the ship’s last known position, but the search was halted due to hurricane force conditions.

The report stated that on Sunday, October 4, a damaged lifeboat, two damaged liferafts, and a deceased crewmember wearing an immersion suit were found. The next day, a debris field and oil slick were found, and the Coast Guard determined the El Faro was lost and declared the event a major marine casualty.

The Coast Guard suspended the unsuccessful search for survivors at sundown on Wednesday, October 7.

On Tuesday, October 6, the National Transportation Safety Board launched a full team to Jacksonville to lead the federal investigation in cooperation with the Coast Guard, the American Bureau of Shipping, and TOTE as parties.

The U.S. Navy Salvage and Diving division of the Naval Seas Systems Command was contracted to locate the sunken ship, assist in the sea floor documentation of the wreckage, and recover the voyage data recorder, according to reports.

Working on board cargo ships like the El Faro can be extremely dangerous. While out to sea, crew members put their lives on the line to ensure that the goods necessary for our daily lives arrive to where they need to be on time. They face dangerous weather conditions and the constant risk of being thrown overboard.

At Whittel & Melton, our Maritime Accident Lawyers are experienced and trained to represent injured seamen and their families, as well as the families of those who have lost loved ones on cargo vessels, like the El Faro. We will represent victims nationwide in maritime personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits.

In many cases, the surviving family members of those who are killed at sea are able to obtain wrongful death compensation under the Jones Act, Death on the High Seas Act, or Admiralty Law.

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The family of a sailor aboard the El Faro, the cargo ship that sunk while out to sea during Hurricane Joaquin, is filing a $100 million lawsuit against the vessel’s owner and captain.

The lawsuit was filed in Duval County Court on Wednesday.

The man was among the 33 men and women aboard the freighter that sunk Oct. 1 in 15,000 feet of water east of the Bahamas.

The suit alleges that Tote Maritime and its captain were negligent in choosing to sail a 41-year-old cargo ship into dangerous weather. The lawsuit claims that Tote needs to place more emphasis on employee safety and less on profits.

Tote has not yet issued a response to the lawsuit.

Wrongful death suits are are usually quite complex and some of the hardest lawsuits to file, mostly due to the high level of emotion behind these cases and the grieving process that surviving family members are still going through. Despite the hardships of these cases, they are necessary, as consulting with a wrongful death lawyer can help the family recover compensation from the at-fault party to pay for costly expenses like a funeral, lost wages, and emotional pain and suffering.

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The Coast Guard announced today its plans to end its search at sunset for 33 missing crew members from a U.S. cargo ship that sank last week during Hurricane Joaquin.

Coast Guard officials made the announcement at a 3 p.m. news conference Wednesday.

The 790-foot cargo ship sank Thursday off the Bahamas during Hurricane Joaquin, a Category 4 storm with 140 mph winds that was producing 50-foot waves.

Officials believe the ship’s captain had plans to go around the storm as he headed from Jacksonville, Florida, to Puerto Rico but the El Faro fell victim to unexplained engine failure that left it unable to avoid the storm.

Federal investigators announced they still hope to recover a data recorder from the ship as search crews continue looking for any survivors.

The National Transportation Safety Board sent a team to Jacksonville on Tuesday to begin the agency’s inquiry, which will help get to the bottom of the question of why the captain, crew and owners of El Faro decided to risk sailing in hurricane waters.

Another unanswered question is whether the five workers whose job was to prepare the engine room for a retrofitting had any role in the boat’s loss of power, which set the vessel adrift in the stormy seas. Officials from Tote Inc., the vessel’s owner, do not believe this to be true. However, the answers determined will help investigators figure out why the boat apparently sank near the Bahamas, possibly claiming the lives of all 33 aboard.

The ship is believed to have gone down in 15,000 feet of water after reporting its last known position last Thursday. One unidentified body has been found.

 

When the El Faro left Jacksonville on Sept. 29, five workers from Poland came along with 28 U.S. crew members to do some preparatory work in the engine room, according to reports. It is not believed that this work would have had anything to do with what affected the propulsion.

 

The El Faro had no history of engine failure, and company records show it underwent its last annual Coast Guard inspection in March.

The American Bureau of Shipping, a nonprofit organization that sets safety and other standards for ships, did full hull and machinery inspections in February and reported no problems.

 

The loss of this vessel is undoubtedly a tragedy to all parties involved, including the families of the missing crew. If negligence was a factor in this accident, which resulted in engine failure, this could be grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit, or an injury suit if any survivors are located.
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A Carnival Cruise Lines employee was arrested in Florida on Saturday for allegedly sexually abusing a male teenage passenger.

According to the Brevard County police, the 46-year-old steward on the Carnival Valor, was arrested when the ship docked at Port Canaveral, east of Orlando. He has been charged with sexual battery of a person under 16 years of age and lewd and lascivious molestation, and is being held on $95,000 bail, the statement said.

The victim’s father reported to ship security on Friday that the man started a conversation with the teenage boy while he was using the sauna and then followed the teen to a shower area where the alleged sexual conduct occurred, according to a Carnival spokesperson and police.

4781841013_a84e99dabd_zOnce the victim’s father learned of the alleged incident, he and other passengers detained the man until security arrived, according to police.

Police said that Carnival Valor security reported the alleged crime to the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office on Saturday morning before the ship docked.

According to a statement, Carnival Cruise Lines staff was cooperating with police and the FBI had provided “full support and assistance” to the victim while he was still on the ship.

Controlling and preventing crimes on board cruise ships is one of the largest problems that the cruise ship industry faces. Each year, dozens of cruise ship passengers fall victim to physical and sexual assaults onboard cruise ships due to crew members and other passengers.

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The U.S. Justice Department announced Thursday that Cruise giant Carnival Corp. will pay more than $400,000 in penalties and damages as part of a settlement over alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The parent company of Carnival, Princess and Holland America also has agreed to make changes to 42 existing vessels at the three brands to comply with ADA regulations. Seven other vessels in various stages of design and construction also will be surveyed and, if necessary, updated to comply with the regulations.

There are another 13 ships operated by the brands that could be subject to possible changes if they continue to be in service in U.S. ports in four years.

The settlement calls for 3 percent of cabins on the ships to be accessible to passengers with disabilities. The cabins should fall into one of three categories: fully accessible cabins, fully accessible cabins with a single side approach to the bed and ambulatory accessible cabins.

Carnival Corp. also agreed to create brand standards that address an array of accessibility issues, provide ADA training to employees and ensure reservation systems allow for people with disabilities to book accessible cabins.

The company will also appoint an ADA compliance officer at the executive level as well as ADA responsibility officers at its Carnival brand and at the Holland America Group, which includes Holland America and Princess. An officer on each ship also will be appointed to resolve ADA-related issues.

6306304003_63c3131719_zThis settlement agreement comes after a Justice Department investigation of complaints that Carnival Corp. failed to properly provide and reserve accessible cabins for individuals with mobility disabilities as is required under the ADA. Additionally, the company also was accused of failing to reasonably modify policies to accommodate individuals with disabilities; afford individuals with disabilities the same opportunities to participate in programs and services, including embarkation and disembarkation; and provide effective communication during muster and emergency drills.

According to the Justice Department, Carnival Corp. will pay a civil penalty of $55,000 to the United States and $350,000 in damages to individuals harmed by past discrimination. The agency says Carnival Corp. officials cooperated during the investigation.

Carnival Corp. says it is pleased with the settlement, and released the following statement:

“We have historically maintained a strong focus on accessibility and have a longstanding track record of meeting the needs of all our guests. We will continue to do so with even more enhancements in staff training, accessibility policies and communications, as well as additional shipboard accessibility features.”

Regardless of the specific cause of a cruise ship accident, the injuries passengers may suffer on these excursions can be extremely serious. It is important that the individual or company responsible is held accountable for their wrongdoing.

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More than 200 passengers on two cruise ships, Royal Caribbean’s Legend of the Seas and Celebrity’s Infinity, have fallen ill with norovirus. The CDC is now investigating the outbreak and monitoring clean up procedures on the two ships.

What is Norovirus?

Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that spreads through contaminated food, water and dirty surfaces. Similar to the stomach flu, norovirus can cause up to three days of stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting. This usually does not require treatment, but some people may become dehydrated and need liquids or intravenous fluids.

Cruise Ship Liability

Cruise ship passengers do have a bill of rights, but the terms of the ticket contract are what determine passengers’ right to sue.

147301814_1ca9572eb8_mUnder the contract, usually located on the back of the cruise ticket, passengers generally waive their right to sue unless the cruise company was negligent in some way. In order to show the cruise line was negligent, it must be demonstrated that the cruise line had a duty to reasonably care for its passengers, but breached that duty, which in turn, caused you harm.

A reasonable standard of care often translates to mean that the cruise company took adequate measures to clean rooms and restrooms, handled and stored food and water properly and made a reasonable effort to quarantine sick passengers to stop the spread of disease. Lastly, it must be shown that the cruise company’s breach of duty is what caused your injury. In the case of norovirus, the cruise company may allege that you already had the virus when you came aboard the ship. It could even claim that you picked it up on shore during one of the stops. However, in this case, it will be quite difficult for Celebrity and Royal Caribbean to argue that the 200 passengers were already sick before coming onto their ships.

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A couple was found dead Thursday in an apparent murder-suicide aboard a Holland America cruise ship that docked in Puerto Rico, according to officials.

The unidentified man and woman were in their 50s and from Cleveland, Ohio.

4243246108_5770984db2_mPolice claim that blood was found in the cabin aboard the Ryndam, but it was unclear how the couple died.

Police have not released anything regarding the motive or the murder weapon.

The ship’s crew apparently found the bodies when they checked on the couple after not seeing them for a while.

The FBI has taken over the investigation.

The ship departed Tampa, Florida, on Sunday for a two-week cruise in the southern Caribbean. The ship stopped in Key West on Monday and then spent two days at sea before docking in historic Old San Juan on Thursday, according to reports.

If someone you love is killed on a cruise ship, then the Death on the High Seas Act applies. This is actually a separate set of laws from either maritime or state laws. These types of cases are particularly complex, and should only be taken on by an experienced Maritime Lawyer at Whittel & Melton.

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A 28-year-old cruise ship worker has been arrested after being accused of raping a passenger aboard a Holland America Line vessel and then trying to throw her overboard, according to authorities.

The FBI arrested the man Sunday when the MS Nieuw Amsterdam returned to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. The incident apparently occurred early Friday morning in international waters off the coast of Roatan, Honduras.

The victim, a 31-year-old U.S. woman, told detectives that she was attacked and raped in her stateroom. She went on to tell authorities that her attacker attempted to throw her from the balcony, but she escaped and received help from another passenger.

holland america cruiseThe accused eventually turned himself in. According to reports, the 28-year-old Indonesian man told investigators he attacked the victim because she had disrespected him earlier.

The man has been charged with attempt to commit murder and aggravated sexual abuse.

Holland America Line issued a statement on Tuesday stating that they are working with the authorities to understand how the incident occurred and what additional actions the company can take to make sure nothing like this ever happens again.

“At Holland America Line, the safety of our guests is our highest priority, and we are shocked and deeply saddened by this incident,” Holland America Line president and CEO Stein Kruse said in a news release. “To our knowledge, no incident like this has occurred in our company’s 140-year history.”

The MS Nieuw Amsterdam took a seven-day western Caribbean charter cruise that left from Fort Lauderdale on Feb. 9.

If you are a cruise ship passenger that has been injured on a cruise ship then you need to seek experienced legal help as soon as possible. Special laws govern injury claims for passengers of cruise lines, limiting the time you have to file a lawsuit, sometimes as soon as six months from the incident date. A Fort Lauderdale Cruise Injury & Maritime Law Attorney at Whittel & Melton proudly helps passengers that have suffered harm in many different cruise ship accident situations. From criminal assaults or sexual attacks committed by other crew members or passengers to slip, trip and fall accidents and other mishaps arising from negligence, we can help you hold the responsible party accountable for their actions.

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