September 25, 2016

Florida Marlins Pitcher Jose Fernandez Along with Two Others Dies in Boating Accident

Jose-Fernandez-Boat-Accident.jpgFlorida Marlins' pitcher Jose Fernandez is one of three people who died Sunday morning in a boating accident off Miami Beach. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue responded to a report of a 32-foot boat that crashed into the north jetty of the Government Cut inlet. Fire Rescue Chief, Todd Garofalo, stated that an "initial search [found] three victims - two on top of the water, one underneath the boat..." The identities of the other victims have not been released. Details on how the boat ended up on the jetty and who was the operator are unknown at this time. Government Cut is the main waterway connecting the Port of Miami to the Atlantic Ocean. Fernandez was a 2011 first-round draft pick of the Marlins and was selected to play in the National League All-Star game in his rookie season.

***UPDATE - Sept. 25, 2:30 p.m.***

New details are emerging from this tragedy. It is being reported that the boat involved in the accident is a 32-foot SeaVee owned by one of Fernandez's friends. A Coast Guard patrol boat from Station Miami Beach spotted the overturned vessel on Government Cut's north jetty at 3:15 a.m. High speed is expected to be a contributing factor in the accident. The law requires all vessels be operated at a safe speed so that it can take proper and effective action to avoid collision and be stopped within a distance appropriate to the prevailing circumstances and conditions. Lights from Miami Beach could also have been a factor in the operator's inability to see the jetty. LED cockpit lights may have also played a role in decreasing the operator's ability to observe the jetty. It is unknown if the vessel was equipped with radar, but if it was, the law requires the use of that radar to its fullest extent to determine the risk of collision.

We like to extend our deepest sympathy to the families of the victims. We will continue to provide updates as more information is learned.

Photo Credit:

September 22, 2016

Florida Boater Drowns in the Nassau River

Nassau-River-Drowning.jpgIt is being reported from Fernandina Beach, Florida that a boater has drowned near the Goffinsville Park and Ramp in the Nassau River while launching an aluminum fishing boat. The man, identified as 55-year-old, Anthony Rankin, from Yulee, Florida. Lt. Tony Wright of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission stated that Mr. Rankin and another man were launching a fishing boat near 9 a.m. Thursday morning. The victim stayed in the boat while the other man parked the motor vehicle and trailer. A witness on the scene reported that Mr. Rankin "gave too much throttle" causing him to go overboard. Mr. Rankin attempted to hold onto the circling boat while in the water before letting go and attempting to swim to shore. While swimming to shore it is reported that Mr. Rankin "struggled and went under the water." Bystanders pulled Mr. Rankin from the water and preformed CPR until medics arrived. He was taken to Baptist Medical Center Nassau where he died.

Photo Credit: News Leader

September 19, 2016

Second Crewmembers Dies in Norwegian Breakaway Lifeboat Drill Accident

Norwegian-Breakaway-Falling-Death.jpgA second crewmember has died from the July 20th incident wherein a lifeboat fell from the NCL operated Norwegian Breakaway while docked at Kings Wharf, Bermuda. As previously reported by The Maritime Law Blog, four crewmembers fell into the water when a lifeboat they were manning during a drill broke from its tether. Four of the crewmembers were taken to an area hospital were Diogenes Carpio died from his injuries. One of there other crewmembers, Ben Buenaventura, who was a waiter aboard the Norwegian Breakaway, was medevaced to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami wherein he was admitted into the intensive care unit. It was reported that Mr. Buenaventura suffered a traumatic brain injury along with fractured legs, hip and right arm. After spending over a month in intensive care, Mr. Buenaventura succumbed to his injuries.

NCL is not the only cruise line that had a fatal lifeboat drill in recent months. On September 13th, a seaman died when a lifeboat fell from Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas while calling on Marseilles, France.

Photo Credit: The Royal Gazette

September 19, 2016

Woman Passenger Medevaced from Carnival Dream Cruise Ship

Coast-Guard-Medevac-Cruise-Passenger.jpgThe United States Coast Guard medevaced a 71-year-old female passenger from the Carnival Dream after she started have difficulty breathing. The medical emergency was reported the morning of September 18 when the cruise ship was near the mouth of the Mississippi River. The ship notified the Coast Guard that the passenger was showing signs of respiratory distress. The Coast Guard decided to dispatch a helicopter crew from its New Orleans air station to air-lift the passenger. The helicopter intercepted the cruise ship where the passenger and the ship's doctor was taken to West Jefferson Medical Center. The passenger is listed in stable condition.

September 16, 2016

Federal Court Allows Injury Claim to Proceed Against a Key West WaveRunner Tour Company

Personal-Watercraft-Liablity.jpgWe often write about personal watercraft rental and tour companies liability. Unlike most other rental businesses, the Florida legislator and Florida's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission have imposed certain regulations requiring these companies to provide specific instruction to their customers before allowing them on the water. Penalties for violating such statutes including a finding that any pre-injury release and wavier of liability signed by the renter to be null and void and a finding that the rental company is presumably at fault for the accident. Recently, a Federal Court was asked to rule as a matter of law whether a personal watercraft rental and tour company's alleged statutory violations rendered its pre-injury release and waiver of liability unenforceable and whether the company was to be presumed at fault for the accident resulting in two of its customers to be air-lifted to the hospital.

The Accident

A mother and daughter paid for a Yamaha WaveRunner tour around Key West conducted by Sunset Waverunner Tours, Inc. Shortly after leaving the starting point, the daughter, with her mother in the passenger seat, drove the WaveRunner into a mangrove forest. The two suffered significant personal njuries and were medevaced to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami.

Continue reading "Federal Court Allows Injury Claim to Proceed Against a Key West WaveRunner Tour Company" »

September 14, 2016

10-Year-Old Girl Drowns in Hilton Garden Inn Pool

Florida-Swimming-Pool-Drowning.jpgThere has been another child drowning in Florida. This time a 10-year-old girl drowned in a pool located at the Jacksonville/Ponte Vedra Hilton Garden Inn. Reports states that the girl identified as Raven Malden of Pensacola was swimming Saturday night with three other family members. She went underwater. Two other children tried to pull the girl from the pool while an older child whet to get help. The girl was removed from the pool and CPR was preformed. Upon arriving to the scene, paramedics took over resuscitation efforts and the child was taken to a Baptist Medical Center Beaches. Tragically, the child died.

This is the second incident within three months where a child has drowned in a Jacksonville area pool. The other incident occurred when a 5-year-old girl wondered into a neighbor's pool on July 27th.

September 13, 2016

Royal Caribbean Crew Member Killed and Four Injured in Safety Drill Accident

lifeboat falls from fifth deck of Harmony of the Seas.jpgOne crew member was killed and four others were injured-two critically, after a lifeboat became detached and fell from the fifth deck of the Royal Caribbean Harmony of the Seas during a security drill while the ship was docked in Marseille, France. The lifeboat is estimated to have fallen from a height of approximately 32 feet with the five men inside of it. The man killed is reportedly a 42-year-old man from the Philippines.

The Harmony of the Seas is the world's largest cruise ship at 1,188 feet from bow to stern it is longer than the Eiffel Tower. The ship is cruising the Mediterranean and is expected to continue its sail to Naples, Italy.

Earlier this year, we reported on a similar accident that occurred aboard the Norwegian Breakaway, which resulted in the death of a crew member and injuries to three other crew members.

Sources and Photo Credit:

Harmony of the Seas Death: One Person Killed and Four Injured after Accident on World's Biggest Cruise Liner, Independent, September 13, 2016.
Royal Caribbean Crew Member Dies and Four Others Injured During Lifeboat Drill on Harmony of the Seas
, Royal Caribbean Blog, September 13, 2016.
Harmony of the Seas accident: One Dead, Four hurt in Lifeboat Crash, BBC News, September 13, 2016.

September 12, 2016

German River Cruise Ship Allides with Bridge Killing Two Crew Member

Viking Freya Allision with Bridge.jpg
A German River Cruise ship traveling from Erlangen, Germany to Budapest, Hungary with 181 passengers and 47 crewmember onboard struck a low bridge killing two officers navigating the ship from the retractable wheelhouse. According to news reports, the Viking Freya, has a retractable wheelhouse that may be lowered for the ship to pass below low bridges. It appears that at the time of the accident, the wheelhouse was not retracted in time and it allided with the bridge in Erlangen. The two officers were in the wheelhouse and died due to the injuries suffered during the allission. The men killed were 49 and 33 years old and were Hungarian. We extend our deepest sympathies to their families and loved ones.

Rescue workers evacuated the passengers and crew members and transported them to local hotels. The cruise line is giving passengers the option to continue cruising on a modified itinerary or to return home.

Viking and local authorities continue to investigate to find out what happened.

Sources and Photo Credit:

REUTERS/Michaela Rehle

Cruise Ship Crashes Into Bridge in Germany, Killing Two Crew, The Telegraph, September 12, 2016.

Two Crew Killed as Viking River Cruise Ship Wheelhouse Hits Low Bridge in Germany, GCaptain, September 11, 2016.

Two Dead After Cruise Ship Hits Bridge at Night, Metro, September 11, 2016.

September 12, 2016

NCL Denied Summary Judgment in a Cabin Bathroom Slip and Fall Personal Injury Lawsuit

Slip-and-Fall-Injury-NCL-Bathroom.jpgThis case involves a passenger aboard NCL's Norwegian Jewel cruise ship who allegedly slipped and fell in her handicapped accessible cabin's bathroom. The lawsuit filed in Miami, Florida Federal Court alleges that water backed up into the bathroom causing the floor to be unreasonably slippery. The complaint goes on to claim that when the passenger walked into her cabin's bathroom, she slipped and fell suffering an ankle injury. The passenger, after filing the lawsuit, passed away and her husband, as administrator of her estate, was substituted as the Plaintiff.

To establish a negligence claim under maritime law the plaintiff must show: (1) that the cruise line owed plaintiff a duty; (2) that defendant breached that duty; (3) that this breach was the proximate cause of plaintiff's injury; and (4) that plaintiff suffered damages. NCL asked the Court to dismiss the lawsuit arguing that a reasonable jury cannot find that it was negligent in causing the slip and fall accident. Under maritime law, to be found negligence for a transient hazardous condition such as water on the floor, the plaintiff must prove that the cruise line knew or should have known of the condition and had an opportunity to correct it before the accident. The cruise line argued that there was no evidence that it had notice of water on the bathroom's floor or any condition that could have led to the accident. Countering NCL's argument, the passenger's husband presented evidence that the cruise line knew that guest bathrooms had flooded in the past including five prior reports concerning the subject bathroom.

Continue reading "NCL Denied Summary Judgment in a Cabin Bathroom Slip and Fall Personal Injury Lawsuit" »

September 10, 2016

NCL Crewmember Missing from the Norwegian Pearl Cruise Ship

Crewmember-Overboard-Norwegian-Pearl.jpgIt is being reported that a 25-year-old female crew member went overboard from the Norwegian Pearl on the morning of September 8th and is currently missing. The cruise ship, operated by Miami, Florida based, NCL, was navigating through Lynn Canal off the coast of Southeast Alaska when the crewmember went overboard. The crewmember was reported missing from cabin. The ship's security staff confirmed the crewmember went overboard upon review of the ship's CCTV surveillance system.

The cruise ship notified the Coast Guard that the crewmember went overboard. The 17th Coast Guard District command center coordinated a search and rescue mission including helicopter crews, response boat crews and the cutter Liberty. The Alaska State Trooper participated in the search with a fixed-wing aircraft. After looking for the crewmember for 42 hours, covering 340 square miles and using 13 different search patterns, the Coast Guard suspended the search at 4:28 p.m. September 10th. The fate of the crewmember is unknown.

September 8, 2016

Cruise Passenger Sexually Assaulted Aboard the Norwegian Breakaway

Sexual-Assault-Aboard-NCL-Cruise-Ship.jpgIt is being reported out of New York that a British passenger aboard the NCL operated Norwegian Breakaway grouped a 21-year-old New Jersey woman as she danced in the cruise ship's Bliss Ultra Lounge. The sexual assault occurred at approximately 1:30 a.m. on September 4th. The 28-year-old man, identified as Ashley Berry, approached the victim by behind and groped her. He then fled the lounge. Ship's security personnel followed Berry. The victim was later able to identify Berry as the man you assaulted her. He was arrested by the New York Police Department and charged with forcible touching and sexual abuse when the cruise ship returned to its Hudson River home port. Berry is being held on $500 bail and is expected to next appear in court on September 8th.

Sexual crimes aboard cruise ship has been so prevalent that Congress enacted the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act which requires cruise lines to install various security systems and provide victims of sexual assault contact information for the FBI and local law enforcement as well as free and immediate access to a private telephone line and internet access by which the victim may confidentially access law enforcement officials, an attorney and the support services available through the National Sexual Assault Hotline program.

September 7, 2016

Coast Guard Reports Crews Searching for Woman Who Fell Off Carnival Cruise Ship

Carnival-Ecstasy-Passenger-Overboard.JPGThe Coast Guard tweeted this morning that crews are searching for a 32-year-old woman who reportedly fell of the Carnival Cruise ship Ecstasy 27 miles Southwest of Freeport, Bahamas. The woman is said to have fallen off the ship's Verandah deck around 2:30 AM Wednesday, September 07, 2016. The search and rescue operation is made up of a MH-65 Dolphin helicopter, HC-144 Ocean Sentry airplane and the Coast Guard Cutter Gannet. The Coast Guard Cutter Bernard C. Webber was also diverted to assist in the search and rescue. The ship was leaving Nassau and heading towards Charleston, South Carolina, where it was scheduled to arrive on Thursday. In addition to Coast Guard assets searching for the missing women, maritime law also requires the cruise ship to conduct a search and rescue operation until revealed.

Sources: U.S. Coast Guard Newsroom

Photo Credit:

September 6, 2016

Texas Man Dies in Jet Ski Accident During Shore Excursion

slide3.jpgA cruise ship passenger traveling onboard the Carnival Splendor died last Wednesday due to a Jet Ski accident at Cockleshell Bay in Sports, the 40-year-old man from Texas rented a Jet Ski and while jet skiing had some difficulty falling from the personal watercraft into the water. Friends assisted him to shore and Emergency Medical Services transferred him to Joseph N. France General Hospital where he was later pronounced dead. We extend our deepest sympathies to his loved ones. Local agencies are investigating this incident.

Cruise lines often offer various watersports as shore excursions. While many cruise ship passengers believe that excursions offered by the cruise lines on their websites are operated by the cruise lines themselves that is rarely the case. Cruise lines reject all responsibility for the negligence of independent contractors despite the control asserted over these companies and the large profits earned by the cruise lines from shore excursions.

We have successfully represented cruise ship passengers for injuries sustained while participating in shore excursions asserting various theories of liability against the cruise lines including negligence for failure to warn of dangerous or defective conditions and negligent selection and/or retention of shore excursion operators. For more information, please visit our Cruise Ship Passenger Shore Excursion Injury & Accident Page on our Website or Contact Us.


Cruise Ship Passenger Dies From Jet Ski Accident in St Kitts
, Cruise Hive, September 3, 2016

Jet Ski Accident Claims Life of Tourist, SKNVibes, September 1, 2016

September 2, 2016

Federal Court Hears Shark Bite Negligence Claim Under Its Admiralty Jurisdiction

Shark-Bite-Lawsuit.jpgA Federal trial court has found Admiralty jurisdiction existed over a negligence claim concerning a SCUBA diver bitten by a shark. The diver alleged in the complaint that the dive master took a group of divers aboard the dive boat Cetus Specula out into the Pacific Ocean for an out-of-cage shark diving expedition. At the site, the dive master chummed the water and then hand-fed the sharks dead fish. The diver claims that the dive master was intoxicated and directed her to an unsafe area. While feeding the shark the dive master held a dead fish which led a Mako shark directly towards the diver which prompted the shark to bite her.

The diver filed a lawsuit against the dive master, his company, the company he charted the dive boat from and the dive boat Cetus Specula in rem alleging that there was operational negligence of the dive expedition. The defendants moved to dismiss the lawsuit arguing that the Federal court lacked admiralty jurisdiction to hear the case. Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction meaning that if the lawsuit is a type that does not fall within the categories of claims authorized by the United States Constitution of Federal law, the Federal court must dismiss the claim. Both Article III, Section 2 of the United States Constitution and Federal law authorize Federal courts to hear admiralty claims.

Continue reading "Federal Court Hears Shark Bite Negligence Claim Under Its Admiralty Jurisdiction " »

September 2, 2016

Georgia Woman Files Suit Against NCL for Alleged Rape by Cruise Ship Bartender


A Georgia woman has filed suit against Norwegian Cruise Lines in the U.S. Southern District of Florida alleging she was raped by a bartender of the cruise line while she was a passenger aboard the M/V Norwegian Sky. According to the Complaint, the bartender singled out the woman and plied her with alcohol and/or spiked her beverage.

The woman claims the bartender took her to into an isolated crew-only storage room on deck 12 and shut the door, moments later the bartender entered the storage room and refused to let the woman out despite her repeated pleas. The last event the woman recalled before coming to on deck 11, was the man pushing her head down toward his penis and telling her to be a "good girl."

Upon coming to the woman claims she was sore in her private parts. She immediately reported the events to a security officer who rather than taking her directly to the infirmary took her to her room and had her drink water and eat while interviewing her. The complaint alleges that crew officials intentionally disregarded rape kit protocols, interfered with the collection of evidence and/or spoliated evidence from the sexual assault and potentially any substance in the alcoholic beverages she consumed.

Unfortunately, assault and rape reports by crew members aboard cruise ships against passengers and fellow crew members are all too common. With policies that encourage over-serving of alcohol to passengers while failing to properly supervise and monitor crew members, sexual assaults remain rampant on cruise ships despite measures by Congress to address this growing issue. Some measures include the 2010 passage of the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act, which requires cruise lines to report crimes involving U.S. citizens to the FBI and to disclose their crime statistics. The cruise lines reports may be accessed by visiting Department of Transportation website.

Our firm is experienced in handling sexual assault claims against cruise lines, for more information visit our Sexual Assault information page.