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May 2014: John H (Jack) Hickey Presents His Paper to the Torts and Insurance Practice Section of the ABA

John H (Jack) Hickey spoke on a panel at and prepared a paper for the Torts and Insurance Practice Section meeting of the ABA in Boca Raton on May 16, 2014.  Hickey's paper was on Tour Operator liability. Hickey also authored “Cruise Ship Accidents: What are the rights of the passenger,” published in the Spring Edition of The New York Bar Association’s Senior Lawyer Magazine.

$2.998 Million Final Judgment Against Carnival Cruise Lines

On Friday, May 13, 2011, Federal Judge Ursula Ungaro awarded $2,998,155.70 to a Carnival cruise ship passenger who was injured in a slip and fall accident. The case is styled: Denise Kaba, plaintiff v. Carnival Corporation, defendant; United States District Court Southern District of Florida Case No. 10-21627-CIV-UNGARO. Plaintiff’s attorneys: John H. (Jack) Hickey, Esq. and David C. Appleby, Esq. Hickey Law Firm, P.A. Defendant’s attorneys: Thomas Scott, Esq. and Armando Rubio, Esq. Cole, Scott & Kissane, P.A. The accident was caused by the cruise line, which had installed on the pool deck of its ship a resin surface. This surface was hard and slippery as ice. Carnival had known about numerous prior accidents on this same flooring surface on this and other ships. After discovery into this surface establishing these facts, the cruise line admitted liability. The Plaintiff, Denise Kaba, slipped and fell on this pool deck surface on the Carnival Pride on August 22, 2009. As a result of the fall, Mrs. Kaba suffered a fractured patella and underwent six surgeries. Mrs. Kaba will need one to two total knee replacements in the future. The trial to determine damages started on May 9, 2011. Final Judgment was entered on Friday, May 13, 2011. The breakdown of the award is as follows:
Loss of earning capacity from the date of trial………………………………………. $ 170,483.00
Past medical expenses ………………………………………………………………… $ 221,910.55
Future medical expenses ……………………………………………………………… $ 373,564.00
Past non-economic damages (pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life,
mental anguish, scarring, disfigurement, and disability) …………………………… $ 200,000.00
Future non-economic damages……………………………………………………… $1,960,000.00
Pre-judgment interest …………………………………………………………………. $ 72,198.15
TOTAL ………………………………………………………………………………… $2,998,155.70

John H. (Jack) Hickey is a Miami native and practices all over Florida. He is Board Certified as a Civil Trial Lawyer by The Florida Bar and by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. Jack is Chair of the Admiralty Section of the American Association for Justice, Past Chair of the Admiralty Law Section of The Florida Bar, a member of the Board of Governors of The Florida Bar, and Past President of the Dade County (Miami) Bar Association. He is a graduate of Florida State University (magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) and of Duke Law School. This year alone, Hickey was named by his peers to the “Legal Elite” in the area of personal injury by Florida Trend magazine; as a “Super Lawyer” by Superlawyer.com; and as a “Top Lawyer” in the areas of personal injury and maritime by the South Florida Legal Guide. For the first half of his career, Hickey was a defense lawyer for insurance companies and cruise lines. For the past 14 years, he has been on the other side, representing people in personal injury and wrongful death cases. He has won many multi-million dollar jury verdicts. 

Kaba Final Judgment

Kaba Judgment Press Release

John H. (Jack) Hickey Elected to the Florida Bar’s Board of Governors

Hickey Testifies before Congress about Crimes on Cruise Ships

Hickey testifies before Congress about crimes on cruise ships  Hickey testifies before Congress about crimes on cruise ships

On March 27, 2007, Hickey testified before the United States Congressional Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation in Washington, D.C. Hickey was invited to speak before the Subcommittee by its Chair, Congressman Elijah Cummings. The topics included crimes on cruise ships. Other topics discussed were the injustices of maritime law in passenger and crewmember claims. Hickey provided a paper on these topics to Congress and it is available here. The panels of speakers on that day included Rear Admiral Justice of the U.S.Coast Guard, a representative from the F.B.I. and the CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. The Chair of the Committee promised that the subcommittee would meet again and that legislation on the reporting of sexual assaults of U.S. citizens on cruises ships would be put into place.


Hickey to Speak to Trial Lawyers on Passenger Claims on Cruise Ships

Hickey will speak at the annual convention of the American Association of Justice in Chicago on passenger claims on cruise ships. The talk will be delivered on July 15, 2007. Hickey will deliver a paper on passenger claims. You can see the paper here. Hickey delivered a paper on claims by crew members against the cruise lines, claims under the Jones Act, in 2002. You can see that paper here also.


Multimillion Dollar Verdict Against Royal Caribbean Is Affirmed

Record breaking verdict for a “non-operated disc”

On January 16, 2008, the Third District Court of Appeal, the mid-level appellate court in the Florida state courts, affirmed a judgment following a jury verdict against Royal Caribbean Cruise Line in the amount of $3,384,185.

The jury verdict was for the personal injury of a seaman, a First Officer onboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. The seaman, Goran Bakalar, suffered a herniated disc in a fall from a ladder while entering a boat. He received no surgery for the condition but could not work on a ship again. The seaman was represented by John H. (Jack) Hickey of Hickey Law Firm, P.A. in Miami, Florida. (See, www.hickeylawfirm.com).

The story starts when the cruise line required its officers to man a fast rescue boat to provide security when the ship was in the Port of Miami. The United States Coast Guard had written letters to this cruise line and others requesting that the cruise lines provide such patrol boats and requested that the patrol boats be manned with 2 people.

Royal Caribbean chose to man each boat with one person and required that its people enter the boats from a bent, broken ladder affixed to a pier at the Port of Miami. The ladder was a vertical “fixed ladder”. That is, the ladder was vertical and attached permanently to the concrete pier. The only problem was that the last 3 feet or so of the ladder was bent in at a 45 degree tilt from the vertical and the end of the ladder was not fixed or bolted to anything.

When First Officer Goran Bakalar went to get into the boat from that ladder for the first time, the boat moved, the ladder moved and he fell back about 6′ down onto his back. He suffered a herniated disc in his back. As a result of that injury, the cruise line said that he could not work on a ship again.

Because Mr. Bakalar was an employee on the ship, he was a Jones Act Seaman. That means that he had all of the rights under the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C. Sec. 688, et. seq. which means the right to sue for pain and suffering, and the seaman had all the rights under the General Maritime Law. That in turn means that the seaman is entitled to Maintenance and Cure. This is an old expression in the General Maritime Law for the obligation of the ship-owner to pay for the medical expenses and for the reasonable living expenses of the seaman until the seaman is declared by a physician to be a “Maximum Medical Improvement”.

Here Mr. Bakalar needed back surgery, which included back fusion at 2 levels. By the time of trial, however, the cruise line had provided to Mr. Bakalar no such treatment. In fact, the cruise line contended that Mr. Bakalar did not need surgery and that the back condition was merely a bulging disc.

The cruise line fought this case for years, and would not settle. We went to trial. The jury’s verdict for this injury is a record breaker. The cruise line after the verdict appealed. Interest accrued on the verdict at 9%. By the time the appellate court affirmed, the interest alone which was owed was over $500,000.00. Thus, with interest, the final amount owed after the appellate decision was just under $4 Million. The full amount was paid. Here is the opinion:

The Third District Court of Appeal
State of Florida, January Term, A.D. 2008
Opinion filed January 16, 2008.
No. 3D06-2960
Lower Tribunal No. 03-24475
Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd.,
Goran Bakalar,
An Appeal from the Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County, Scott Bernstein, Judge.
Salas, Ede, Peterson & Lage; Hicks & Kneale and Dinah Stein and Mark Hicks, for appellant.
John Hickey; Elizabeth K. Russo, for appellee.

Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. appeals a jury verdict of $3,384,185 as being against the manifest weight of the evidence. As we recently stated in Glabman v. De La Cruz, 954 So. 2d 60, 62 ( Fla. 3d DCA 2007), “despite the fact that a jury verdict is higher or lower than the reviewing court believes it ought to have been, the court should decline to interfere with the verdict.” Unlike Glabman, Royal Caribbean has not pointed to any highly emotional testimony which caused anyone to cry. We find no abuse of discretion in the trial judge’s refusal to grant a new trial or remittitur. See Lassitter v. Int’l Union of Operating Eng’rs, 349 So. 2d 622, 627 (Fla. 1977) (stating that the court may order a remittitur or new trial if it believes “the amount is so great or small as to indicate that the jury must have found it while under the influence of passion, prejudice or gross mistake”). Affirmed.

John H. (Jack) Hickey represented cruise lines for the first 17 years of his career. For the last 11 years, he has represented passengers and crew members in their claims against cruise lines. He is Board Certified as a Civil Trial Lawyer by The Florida Bar and by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. Hickey lectures frequently across the country on Maritime Law and on claims against cruise lines, and in March of 2007 testified before Congress on claims against cruise lines. He is AV-rated by Martindale-Hubbell, listed in Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in American Law, and has been named as a “Superlawyer” by Superlawyer.com, as a “Top Lawyer” by the South Florida Legal Guide, and as a member of the “Legal Elite” by Florida Trend Magazine. Hickey is a graduate of Florida State University (magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) and Duke Law School. He is a civil trial lawyer specializing in personal injury, admiralty and maritime, medical malpractice, and commercial litigation with offices at 1401 Brickell Avenue, Suite 510, Miami, Florida 33131. Call TOLL FREE: 1.800.215.7117. Website: www.hickeylawfirm.com.

Congressional Invitation

John L. Mica
Ranking Republican Member

Elijah E. Cummings
Chair Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime

Carnival Pride: Carnival Cruise Ship Slip and Fall Litigation

John H. (Jack) Hickey: Formerly a Lawyer for the Cruise Lines and Insurance Companies… Now a Lawyer for You

This year, Hickey was chosen by his peers to receive the following honors:

Maritime attorney John H. (Jack) Hickey elected to Florida Trend Magazine's Legal Elite

“Legal Elite”
by Florida Trend Magazine
Click here to view the official announcement

Florida maritime lawyer John H. (Jack) Hickey named Top Lawyer by the South Florida Legal Guide for personal injury and maritime law

“Top Lawyer”
in the areas of Personal Injury and Maritime by the “South Florida Legal Guide” Click here to view actual listing

Florida Super Lawyer awards cruise ship accident lawyer John H. (Jack) Hickey title of Super Lawyer

“Florida Super Lawyer”
in the area of personal injury plaintiff in “SuperLawyers
Click here to view actual listing

Board Certified as a Trial Lawyer by the National Board of Trial Advocacy

Hickey has been Board Certified as a Trial Lawyer by the National Board of Trial Advocacy (NBTA) for 2006. The NBTA is the only national certification program for trial attorneys and is accredited by the American Bar Association. Hickey has been certified since 1990 by The Florida Bar as a Civil Trial Lawyer.

John H. (Jack) Hickey Speaks to the Coral Gables Bar Association

John H. (Jack) Hickey

John H. (Jack) Hickey on Wednesday July 21, 2004, spoke to the Coral Gables Bar Association about maritime law and claims of passengers against cruise ships. Hickey is Board Certified by The Florida Bar as a Civil Trail Attorney and has been recognized by the South Florida Legal Guide as “Top Lawyer” in the areas of personal injury and maritime law. He is Past Chair of the Admiralty Law Committee of The Florida Bar and is the immediate Past President of the Dade County Bar Association. Hickey continues to practice maritime and personal injury law throughout South Florida.