Monthly Archives: February 2016

Proudly Representing Cruise Ship Cases in Miami, Nearby Areas of Florida and Nationwide

An elderly woman has been awarded damages from Norwegian Cruise Lines.

Back in October 2013, Elizabeth McQuillan, who was aged 80 at the time, went on a seven day cruise which left from New Orleans on the Norwegian Jewel cruise ship. She boarded the ship and went to her cabin but her luggage was not there. She then went into the hallway and spotted her luggage just down from her cabin so she decided to collect it herself rather than wait for it to be delivered such a short distance. However as she walked towards her luggage there was a small step which she tripped on and fell, dislocating her shoulder.

McQuillan had to undergo shoulder replacement surgery and she subsequently sued Norwegian Cruise Lines asking for $850,000 in damages for her injuries and expenses related to them.

However, she originally filed the lawsuit in her home state of Louisiana and Norwegian Cruise Lines objected, highlighting the contract conditions which state that all claims must be filed in Florida.

McQuillan argued in court that she had never seen the contract so there was no way she could know that, but Norwegian could prove that they mentioned in an email that all passengers must understand the terms and conditions and indeed when a passenger accepts the ticket then they accept the terms and conditions which go along with it. She went on to argue that she was elderly and it would be hard for her to travel to Florida not only physically but also financially but the court found in the cruise line’s favor and the case was heard in Florida.

At the hearing, Norwegian Cruise Lines said that the baggage was in an area which was designated only for crew and she should not have entered there. Although the jury took that on board in part, they found Norwegian Cruise Lines 60% liable for her injury, and awarded McQuillan her share of the award which came to $90,000.

The case above shows that cruise Lines will not make it easy for you to claim against them, which is why you need an experienced Miami, Florida cruise attorney.

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Several cruise ship itineraries are being changed at the moment, leaving passengers unable to visit the ports they hoped they would see.


In the Pacific Ocean, Tropical Cyclone Winston is causing havoc as one the most powerful storms ever in the Southern Hemisphere. Several cruises are being diverted and all visits to ports in Fiji have been cancelled for the foreseeable future as the clean up there continues. Instead of Fiji, the Pacific Pearl which was supposed to be on a Fiji Encounter cruise will go to Tonga, missing out the three Fijians calls.
Another ship owned by P&O, the Pacific Jewel has cancelled its scheduled stop in Vanatu and the Queen Victoria owned by Cunard has cancelled a call into Apia due to the rough weather and they hope to sail further east in an attempt to avoid the storm.
Finally Royal Caribbean has had to change the schedules of both the Voyager of the Seas and Legend of the Seas to try and keep out of the way of the cyclone.
So far 17 people are believed to have died in the cyclone in Fiji when it struck the island chain on Saturday, February 20 and there is now a 30 day state of emergency throughout the whole nation.
On the other side of the world, there have been itinerary changes to the Carnival Fantasy due to technical problems with the propulsion system. The ship was due to leave PortMiami on Monday, February 22 at 4 p.m. but in the event did not receive clearance to sail until 9 p.m. due to the technical problem.
It is still unable to travel at full speed and so the planned five day cruise to Key West and Cozumel has been changed to include Nassau in the Bahamas and Freeport in Jamaica.
Due to the major itinerary change, Carnival has offered guests 25 percent off a future cruise and $50 onboard credit.

 

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Many cruise ships have oyster bars or serve oysters but they can be extremely dangerous to your health.

There is a bacterium called Vibrio which is found in oysters among other things and causes three different diseases in humans which are Vibrio cholerae, Vibrio parahaemolyticus and Vibrio vulnificus.

Back in 2004, there was an outbreak of Vibrio parahaemolyticus on an cruise ship in Alaska which resulted in 62 out of 189 passengers becoming sick and all of the oysters on board were found to be infected. They had come from an oyster farm in Prince William Sound and over years the water there had been getting warmer which meant that it was now sufficiently warm for the bacteria to grow.

Throughout the world, each year Vibrio cholerae causes three million to five million cases of cholera and 100,000 to 120,000 people die. Most of the infections are in Africa, in fact in the United States there are only between five and 10 cases of cholera each year. 

Vibrio parahaemolyticus is more widespread and causes about 4,500 infections in the United States annually and usually results in diarrhea. Luckily deaths from this are rare.

The much more serious problem is Vibrio vulnificus which causes around 95 cases in the United States each year resulting in almost all patients being hospitalized and 35 deaths.  It is often described as the most virulent bacterium in the world with a 50 percent fatality rate.  It causes what is called necrotizing fasciitis, also known as the flesh eating disease and 90 percent of all of the cases in the United States came from eating raw oysters from the Gulf Coast. If a healthy person contracts it they usually just have a mild case of diarrhea but those with wound infections, or immune disorders will often develop septicemia which then turns into the flesh eating disease.

So before eating oysters on board a cruise ship, especially if you do not know where they came from, think carefully about the risks.

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A magician from Canada who worked on board a Disney cruise ship has been arrested following an accusation of sexually battering a woman.

The unnamed woman said that she had been friends with 39 year old Andrew Pogson for around six months and she travelled to Orlando on Friday, February 12, as he had offered to take her on a cruise on a Disney line ship where he worked as an entertainer under the stage name of Freddy Fusion.

They stayed at a Marriot hotel just to the north of Orlando International Airport and although they stayed in the same bed, the woman alleges she made it clear to Pogson that she only wanted to be friends.

That night nothing took place but the next day, she became very intoxicated during and following a day out to Epcot. On returning to the hotel, she states she fell asleep but awoke to find Pogson sexually battering her, so she ran outside of the room asking for help. As she was crying hysterically in the hallway, Pogson came out and according to police she punched him twice in the face.

Pogson was arrested and taken to the Orange County Jail where he is currently being held in lieu of $20,000 bail on a charge of sexual battery and has been suspended by Disney cruise line.

 Pogson is a magician and entertainer with Fusion Talent Group and is said to have toured widely with his show which is a mixture of comedy and magic.

 

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Passengers from the Anthem of the Seas cruise from hell on February 6, 2015 have contacted Hickey Law Firm about their rights.  We represent cruise passengers who are injured on cruises and on cruise ships.  We are the A-Team of 4 lawyers led by John H. (Jack) Hickey.  Jack represented cruise lines for 17 years.  Now he is on the other side of the cruise lines, representing you, the seriously injured passenger.  Jack is a nationally recognized trial lawyer.  He is a Sustaining Member of the American Association for Justice and lectures frequently across the United States on trial and on maritime issues.  Jack is perhaps the only lawyer in Florida who is Board Certified as a Trial Lawyer by The Florida Bar and by the National Board of Trial Advocacy and  Board Certified in Admiralty and Maritime Law by The Florida Bar.  Jack is a Past President of the Dade County Bar Association and is on The Florida Bar Board of Governors.  2 of our 4 attorneys, Brett Sager and Elizabeth Bryan, are former criminal prosecutors.  1 of our attorneys, Bjorg Eikeland, worked for a number of years as a Senior Adjuster with an insurance company in Europe which provided insurance and managed claims for the cruise lines.  Bjorg also has worked for Norwegian Cruise Line in their claims department and has worked for a law firm which defended the cruise lines before joining Hickey Law Firm.   

 

 

The law which applies to injuries of passengers on cruise ships is the maritime law.  The place where you have to sue or bring a claim against the cruise lines is where the Passenger Ticket Contract requires that you have to bring a case.  Our website lists all of the known cruise lines and the place or venue where a passenger is required to file suit.  For a detailed description of where to file suit, see the terms and conditions of the Passenger Ticket Contract on the website of each particular cruise line.  Generally, the place or venue to file suit against the major cruise lines like Carnival, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, and Celebrity, is Miami, Florida.  The passenger also is required to provide notice in writing with “full particulars” to the cruise line of a claim within 6 months of the claim and to file suit in the correct location within one year of the incident if the cruise touched a U.S. port. 

 

Generally, we represent passengers who have suffered significant and what turns out to be permanent injuries.  That typically includes injuries which require surgery or surgeries such as orthopedic or neurological injuries.  That also can include traumatic brain injury.  This also includes cases of assault, sexual assault, or rape.  This does not mean that you can file a suit or bring a claim against a cruise line only if you have these types of injuries.  This means only that these are the types of cases we take.  We would like to represent everyone, but we cannot.  Of course, where there is any doubt about what this means or what cases we take, call us at 1.800.215.7117.  We would be glad to talk to you and clarify. 

 

The Passenger Contract Ticket for each cruise line explains some of the rights of the passengers.  Those explanations are written by corporate and maritime lawyers and are written in legalese. These terms are difficult or impossible to understand even for most lawyers.  Most cruise lines have adopted the International Cruise Passengers Bill of Rights.  This Bill of Rights was written by the Cruise Line International Association, the trade group which represents the cruise lines.  The Bill of Rights was crafted by the cruise industry to ward off any regulation by Congress after the Carnival Triumph “poop cruise” where the ship was adrift in the Gulf of Mexico without power and with backed up toilets for more than 4 days.  The Cruise Passenger Bill of Rights provides: 

 

  1. The right to disembark a docked ship if essential provisions such as food, water, restroom facilities and access to medical care cannot adequately be provided onboard, subject only to the Master’s concern for passenger safety and security and customs and immigration requirements of the port.
  2. The right to a full refund for a trip that is canceled due to mechanical failures, or a partial refund for voyages that are terminated early due to those failures.
  3. The right to have available on board ships operating beyond rivers or coastal waters full-time, professional emergency medical attention, as needed until shore side medical care becomes available.
  4. The right to timely information updates as to any adjustments in the itinerary of the ship in the event of a mechanical failure or emergency, as well as timely updates of the status of efforts to address mechanical failures.
  5. The right to a ship crew that is properly trained in emergency and evacuation procedures.
  6. The right to an emergency power source in the case of a main generator failure.
  7. The right to transportation to the ship’s scheduled port of disembarkation or the passenger’s home city in the event a cruise is terminated early due to mechanical failures.
  8. The right to lodging if disembarkation and an overnight stay in an unscheduled port are required when a cruise is terminated early due to mechanical failures.
  9. The right to have included on each cruise line’s website a toll-free phone line that can be used for questions or information concerning any aspect of shipboard operations.
  10. The right to have this Cruise Line Passenger Bill of Rights published on each line’s website.

- See more at: https://www.cruising.org/about-the-industry/regulatory/industry-policies/other/pbor#sthash.bkqTVvBK.dpuf  

 

There is no right in these to file suit if the cruise line violates or does not fulfill these “rights”.  Therefore, this so called “Bill of Rights” has no teeth. 

 

And there is one other limitation in the law.  A Federal statute, 46 U.S.C. Sec. 30509 (b), which the cruise industry pushed Congress to pass, provides that the cruise passenger can recover damages for “emotional distress, mental suffering, and psychological injury” only where those injuries were “the result of physical injury to the claimant caused by the negligence or fault of a crewmember” or the cruise line, or where the passenger “was at actual risk of physical injury, and the risk was caused by the negligence or fault of a crewmember” or the cruise line, or where such damages were “intentionally inflicted by a crewmember” or the cruise line.  This section does not apply to sexual harassment, sexual assault, or rape.   

 

The question in the case of passengers on the Anthem of the Seas cruise from hell who were not physically injured but who did suffer emotional distress, mental suffering, or psychological injury (which I would venture to say is everyone to one degree or another) is whether (a) they were at actual risk of physical injury or (b) the captain’s and the cruise line’s decision to sail that ship with all 6,000 passengers and crew (see,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MS_Anthem_of_the_Seas) into that storm without diverting to a safe port meant that the damages were intentionally inflicted.  The captain’s version of the story is that the weather was more severe than predicted in this case.  (See, interview with the captain made onboard by the cruise line at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jo0SLwupq10).  Here, all of the passengers were at actual risk of physical injury in the sense that there was furniture and furnishings sliding all over the ship (see, e.g., https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9gvBcwbfeyA) unless the passenger was in the cabin and nothing fell from the cabin walls.  The ship was in this violent storm for approximately 12 hours.  The ship was at risk during that time and the passengers were at risk of injury from the furnishings flying around. 

 

And the Captain knew or should have known what was facing him, the ship, and the 6,000 others onboard.  According to CNN.com, “As early asThursday, the National Weather Service's ocean prediction center in Washington forecast winds of 46 to 57 mph and 23- to 31-foot seas on Sundaynight in the area where the ship encountered the storm, CNN meteorologist Jennifer Gray said.”  There is a call for an NTSB investigation into why the captain would have sailed into this magnitude of a storm. 

 

Assuming that these damages for emotional distress, mental suffering, or psychological injury can be recovered, the question is what is that measure of damages.  In other words, how much is that worth for each passenger and for that period of time and for that particular experience?   There is no chart or schedule for this.  I was not there and do cannot attest to what did happen and how bad it was.  We have received calls and the storm was bad and scary.  The ship may have weathered the storm well but to most it did not seem like it was going to weather it well.  This is a question which can be answered by comparing other incidents and the compensation for them.  Most of these injuries, without any physical injury, do not fall within the definition of the types of cases which Hickey Law Firm takes.  But we will represent passengers from this cruise or others where there has been actual and significant physical injury caused by the negligence of others or by an assault, sexual assault, or rape.     

 

In any event, the policy of Hickey Law Firm is to represent those passengers and crew who have suffered significant and permanent physical injury, traumatic brain injury, assault, sexual assault, or rape.   This includes orthopedic and neurological injuries such as broken bones and torn tendons and ligaments, fractures to the spine and the skull and head, severe burns, and internal injuries to organs, most of which will result in one or more surgeries.  All of these types of injuries cause pain, suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, physical disability, and impairment, in the past and in the future.  The maritime law does allow for recovery of all of those damages regardless of the restrictions of the statute, 46 U.S.C. Sec. 30509 (b) described above.  Why?  Because these damages are caused by actual physical injury. 

 

And most if not all of these types of injuries cause medical treatment and expenses and loss of income.  These types of damages also are recoverable from the date of the accident/incident to the end of ones life or – in the case of loss of income—through the end of one’s work life expectancy if the loss extends that far.  The maritime law does allow for recovery of these types of damages caused by actual physical injury.  Of course, where there is any doubt about what this means or what cases we take, call us at 1.800.215.7117.  We would be glad to talk to you and clarify. 

 

Thank you. 

            

 

John H. (Jack) Hickey

Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer

Board Certified Admiralty & Maritime Lawyer

 

1401 Brickell Ave., Suite 510

Miami, FL 33131

P: 305.371.8000

F: 305.371.3542

E: [email protected]

www.hickeylawfirm.com

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There is still silence from Royal Caribbean as to why the Anthem of the Seas made the decision to set sail on a weeklong cruise knowing that it would encounter a severe storm with hurricane force winds.


The only statement has been that the extreme conditions were unexpected and the captain reiterated to the passengers on board that the weather was not what was forecast and it was stronger than expected. He also said that it was the worst storm he had ever sailed in.
Royal Caribbean said that the ship was never in danger, but several of the passengers when describing their ordeal said the ship was listing at 45 degrees with 30 foot waves which even crashed over the lifeboats. So was the ship in danger?
Many passengers likened their experience to the movie, “The Poseidon Adventure” when a wall of water flipped a cruise ship on its side.  And it does not only happen in the movies. Back in 2010 when the Louis Majesty cruise ship was cruising off northeast Spain, it was hit by 26 foot waves which smashed though some windows killing two passengers and injuring 14.
Experts have said that waves such as the ones experienced by the Louis Majesty are extremely rare but obviously not that rare given that the ones which the passengers on the Anthem of the Seas had to cruise through appeared to be the same size or bigger. It would seem to be a miracle that no one was killed or seriously injured.
Experts have also said in order for the ship to experience a Poseidon moment and totally flip, the waves would have to be 70 to 100 feet high and the ship would have to be listing at 60 degrees. Passengers on the Anthem of the Seas say that it was listing at around 45 degrees so not that far off the danger area.  
Anthem of the Seas is due to arrive back in Cape Liberty, New Jersey at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, 10 February, with 4,539 passengers and 1,616 crew members, most of whom will probably be very happy to be back on dry land and some of whom are unlikely to venture to sea again

 

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As the Royal Caribbean Anthem of the Seas makes its way back to New Jersey after having cancelled a seven night Bahamas cruise after only one day at sea, Senator Bill Nelson has asked the National Transportation Safety Board to carry out an investigation as to why the ship set sail, knowing they would face hurricane force winds and putting the safety of around 4,500 passengers and 1,600 crew at risk.

The cruise ship left Cape Liberty, New Jersey on Sunday and at around 8 a.m. began to feel the effects of the storm. By 2.30 p.m. when many guests were in the theater watching a musical the weather became so rough that only ten minutes into the performance the Captain asked all passengers to return to their cabins and staterooms for their own safety.

The captain initially made announcements every hour promising the storm would soon be over, but it was not to be and the guests were confined in their cabins for the whole afternoon and night with all public areas, including the restaurants closed until the morning, when the clean up began.

Questions are now being asked as to why the ship set sail in the first place as although Royal Caribbean called the event “an unexpected storm”, according to the meteorologists it was anything but unexpected.

The storm had been forecast from the previous Wednesday, some four days before the ship sailed, which warned of the arrival of Winter Storm Mars with winds of 45 to 60 knots and there seas up to 29 feet.  By Saturday, the warnings said there would be hurricane force winds exactly where the ship was due to sail off the south east coast of the United States. The reason for the winter storm was a large trough in the jet stream which was being pushed towards the east coast and then when it hit the warm Gulf Stream it strengthened rapidly with winds up to 100 miles per hour, effectively a Category 2 hurricane.

Royal Caribbean has not explained why the ship set sail putting thousands of lives at risk, but having originally said there was no damage to either passengers, crew nor the vessel and the cruise would continue, later on Monday they decided to turn the ship round as there was more rough weather forecast ahead and they thought the passengers had been through enough.  

Passengers are to receive full refunds and 50% voucher off a previous cruise, but many described the event as terrifying with several packing emergency supplies expecting the worse to happen at any time.

In addition, it appears that the ship did not actually contact the Coast Guard but it was passengers who were tweeting about the conditions  which alerted the Coast Guard to the situation and they subsequently made contact with the ship who assured them that everything was fine.

 

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In March 2011, a 24 year old British woman went missing from a Disney cruise ship.


Given the lack of information and investigation carried out by both Disney and the police in the Bahamas, where the cruise ship was registered, now, one of the former most senior detectives in Great Britain has offered his expertise to try and uncover the truth.
Rebecca Coriam was working as a child minder on board the Disney Wonder, but less than 24 hours after it left Los Angeles on its way to the Mexican Riviera she disappeared. Rebecca was last seen on 22 March 22, 2011 at 5.45 a.m. when video footage showed her making a phone call from the staff quarters. The friend she called said she seemed fine on the telephone. When she failed to turn up for her shift some four hours later the alarm was raised but Disney waited over four hours to tell the U.S. Coast Guard, over five hours to contact the local navy and seven hours to contact the police in the Bahamas.
Like all cruise lines, if an incident happens in international waters, the investigating team comes from the country where the ship is registered. Unfortunately the police in the Bahamas only conducted a cursory investigation and decided she must have jumped overboard.
Her parents, Mike and Ann Coriam, filed a lawsuit against Disney for allegedly failing in their duty of care towards Rebecca, but Disney said it was without merit. The Coriams have also criticized Disney for their lack of communication since Rebecca disappeared and they are still waiting for Disney to send them the full incident report. They question the motives of the cruise line in withholding information.
They still do not know if Rebecca is alive or dead, but they do know that her credit card was used a month after her disappearance. They continue to collect evidence about the case and with the addition of Commander Roy Ramm as a member of the team they are hopeful the mystery can be solved. Ramm has extensive experience of missing person investigations with 27 years in the Metropolitan police force.

 

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