April 15, 2014

Kenneth M. Myers Bayside Park Animal Sculpture Severs College Student's Finger

Miami Park Injury Lawyer.jpgThe Miami personal injury attorneys of Brais, Brais & Rusak have been retained by a college student who suffered a partially severed finger injury due to moving metal horse sculpture located at Kenneth M. Myers Bayside Park in Coconut Grove. Within the park, there are multiple kinetic steel animal sculptures created by Fredrick Prescott. What the average person does not know is the heads of these animal sculptures move. Perhaps on windy days the movement it is apparent. However, when it is not windy, the heavy steel heads do not often move creating traps for the unsuspecting. Such was the case with our client. He visited the park with his mother on a particularly non-windy day. New to Miami, neither he, nor his mother, was aware the heads of the sculptures moved. While posing for a picture with his hand resting on the horse sculpture, a puff of wind breezed over the park causing the head to move severing his finger.

Nowhere within Kenneth M. Myers Bayside Park are signs warning of the danger associated with the animal sculptures. Moreover, there are no signs telling people not to touch the sculptures. Indeed, the artist Fredrick Prescott has commended that his art is meant to be touched. Most alarming is our law firm learned there are prior injuries associated with the moving animal sculptures. So why, at a very minimum, has Miami not placed warning signs or cordoned off the sculptures to protect its citizens and visitors?

If you were, or know someone who was, injured by the Kenneth M. Myers Bayside Park animal sculptures, we like to hear from you to better assist our client. You may reach our lawyers by calling our toll free phone number or writing by clicking our contact link.

April 11, 2014

Carnival Sunshine's Pool Deck Unreasonably Slippery?

Carnival Sunshine Slip Injury.jpgWe have received multiple calls from passengers who have slipped and fallen on the Carnival Sunshine cruise ship in recent months. The Sunshine was launched in 1995 under the name Destiny. The ship was in service since 1995 before being refitted, renamed and relaunched as the Sunshine in May 2013. It appears when the ship was being refitted, the coating placed on the Lido / Pool deck made the deck unreasonably slippery. The popular cruise forum "Cruise Critic" has a post reviewing the Sunshine under the title "Problem Ship". The entry states many people were observed slipping and falling when entering the pool deck. This is remarkable given the ship was relaunched less than a year ago. This law firm has handled a multitude of passenger slip and fall cases occurring on cruise ships and have learned the main causes of these accidents are improper selection of decking materials, improper application of coatings and lack of maintenance. As the Carnival Sunshine has recently been refitted, the likely reason for the slip and falls appear to be an improper decking material selection and/or improper application.

Once Carnival is made aware of an unreasonably slippery deck, it incumbent upon the cruise line to make the deck safe. If it doesn't rectify the unsafe condition, it may be held liable for any accidents resulting from people slipping. Given the high amount of slip and falls on the Lido / Pool deck, Carnival is obviously aware of the problem. It is perplexing why the largest cruise line in the world hasn't fixed the problem. The Sunshine is currently making weekly sailing from New Orleans to the Western Caribbean and Mexico. If you have slipped or have seen someone slip on the Carnival Sunshine, we ask that you please contact us so we could better represent our clients.

April 7, 2014

Royal Caribbean Passenger Flown to Miami Children's Hospital

Royal Caribbean Coco Cay Injury.jpgThe Coast Guard responded to an emergency concerning an infant passenger from the Royal Caribbean Enchantment of the Seas while the ship was calling on the private Bahamian island Coco Cay. It is reported the 10-month-old passenger was experiencing breathing difficulty Sunday prompting the rescue. The ship's medical personnel stabilized the infant before flying with the baby to Miami. The child arrived at Miami Children's Hospital Sunday night. The child's respiratory condition is unknown at the time of this report.

The Enchantment of the Seas is currently making weekly sailings from Cape Canaveral, Florida to the Bahamas. Royal Caribbean's age policy for the subject cruise is that a child must be at least 6 months old as of the first day of the voyage.

April 3, 2014

Knee Injuries Caused by Slippery Cruise Ships

Slippery Cruise Ship Knee Injury Lawyer.jpgThis law firm received several calls a week from passengers who have injured their knees from slipping on a cruise ship. There is a very specific reason why this happens.

Cruises are supposed to be fun. Cruise lines spend millions upon millions of dollars outfitting their ships with attractions designed to entice people to vacation with them instead of other places. Unfortunately, accidents happen. Often times these accidents could be avoided if the cruise lines place a little more emphasis on safety than bringing more and more passengers to their ships.

Exterior decks are an area aboard cruise ships which are particularly dangerous. Each ship has a lido deck which features the main pool, hot tubs, bars, buffets and stages. These decks are made of smooth steel that is treated with chemical coatings which are supposed to provide traction. Given the high amount of people walking theses decks day in and day out, the protective coating breaks down leavening nothing but smooth steel. Once this coating breaks down, the slickness of the deck is akin to ice. The breakdown of the coating, however, does not happen uniformly. The areas which experience higher concentration of foot traffic and where the coating is thinly or misapplied break down faster. This proves very dangerous as a person can walk without problem, sometimes for long distances, then hit an slick patch causing him or her to fall without warning. It would be better if the whole deck was slippery because the passenger would know quite quickly that he or she is dealing with a slippery condition. Instead, the passenger is lead to believe the deck is reasonably safe until he or she hits the ground.

These types of slips and falls often times result in knee injuries as a knee usually hyper-extends during the fall. The most common type of injuries are meniscus or ligament tears. Sometimes these injuries are treated with pain medication and physical therapy. Other times, surgery is necessary. In the most severe cases, a knee replacement is required.

If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of sustaining a knee injury due to a slippery cruise ship deck and would like to know more about your legal options, feel free to call our Florida Board Certified Maritime Attorneys who will be more than happy to speak with you.

March 26, 2014

Brais, Brais & Rusak Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit on Behalf of Florida Deckhand's Family

Shaun Cheney.jpgThe Florida maritime attorneys of Brais, Brais & Rusak brought a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a family whose loved one drown after falling overboard from the tug boat. On the morning of September 13, 2013, Shaun Cheney was preparing the tugboat Brittany Beyel and barge for a crossing to the Bahamas. As part of his duties, Shaun was required to participate in the repositioning of the tug and barge from the Beyel Brothers' Merritt Island facility across the Canaveral Barge Canal. While crossing the canal, it was noticed that Shaun was missing. He was last seen by a fellow deckhand securing a line to a stern cleat. Although being aware Shaun was missing, the decision was made to first dock the tug before starting a search and rescue mission. When the search of the area did occur, Shaun could not be found despite being a good swimmer. Tragically, Shaun's body was found on the bottom of the canal the next afternoon.

Beyel Brothers Accident Lawyer.gifMarine employees are protected by the federal Jones Act and maritime law for the negligent acts and unseaworthiness of the vessel they are tasked to work aboard. Under this law, Shaun's employer, Beyel Brothers, was required to develop safety protocols, post a lookout to alert the captain and crew of an accident, have a sufficient amount of life vests aboard the vessel and immediately effect a search of the area when it becomes known that crew member fell overboard. Based upon our investigation, Beyel Brothers failed to comply with the law. Maritime law recognizes seamen work is hard and often times dangerous. As such, unlike land-based law, marine employers are liable no matter how slight the connection between the wrongful act and death of a worker.

If you have information about this tragedy, we like to hear from you to better assist Shaun's family. You may call us toll free at (800) 499-0551 or click this link to write to us.

March 26, 2014

Injured Man Medevaced off NCL's Norwegian Gem

A man was medevaced off the 965-foot cruise ship Norwegian Gem yesterday. The ship's master radioed the Coast Guard reporting 35-year-old Brent Killian was in medical distress and in need of assistance. A MH-60 rescue helicopter was dispatched and met the cruise ship approximately 180 miles east of Nags Head, North Carolina. The rescues team transported Killian to Coast Guard Air Station located at Elizabeth City wherein he was then taken by ambulance to Albermarle Hospital. Killian's condition is currently unknown. The Norwegian Gem is operated by the Miami based cruise line NCL. The 2384 passenger cruise ship is currently making weekly sailing to the Bahamas from New York. Below is actual Coast Guard footage of the rescue at sea.

March 25, 2014

Protecting the Rights of Cruise Rape Victims

Cruise Rape Attorney.jpgRape and other types of sexual assaults occur on cruise ships with regularity. These horrific events are often times not told to passengers. Cruise lines have a financial interest in not sharing the facts about crimes that occur on their watch involving their employees against people who pay them to vacation on their cruise ships. In fact, the cruise industry spends millions upon millions of dollars in advertising for the purpose of portraying cruises as a safe family vacation option. The lack of warning of the real dangers associated with cruising combined with the portrayal of safety gives regular people the false sense of security while cruising. This often leads to passengers letting their guard down which in turn leads to victimization.

Brais, Brais & Rusak has an established history of protecting women who were raped while on vacation. In a case handled by the firm against Norwegian Cruise Line, our lawyers argued the cruise line had a duty to warn its passengers about prior sexual assaults that occurred on its cruise ship so guests could be aware of the potentially dangerous atmosphere aboard the ship. As part of that litigation a Miami federal judge ordered the cruise line to disclose the number of reported sexual assaults on its ships within a period of 15 months prior to the subject rape. The information revealed was shocking as there were 23 prior instances of sexual assaults in little over a year! From this rather high number of sexual assaults occurring on NCL cruise ships during the months leading to our client's rape, the court concluded there was sufficient evidence to establish it was foreseeable to the cruise line that other passengers would be raped thus triggering the requirement of warning vacationers of the potential danger.

Recently we were contacted by a passenger from South Carolina in need of assistance. This young woman was raped in a restroom by a male crewmember aboard the Bahamas Celebration on the way back to Florida from the Bahamas. This cruise ship is operated Celebration Cruise Lines headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It appears that Celebration is intending to mount a vigorous defense as less than 24 hours after giving notice of Brais, Brais & Rusak's retention by the victim, we were notified a law firm was hired to represent the cruise line. Our firm is used to such tactics by cruise lines. In an effort to help represent our client, if you were on the Bahamas Celebration between March 8 - 10, 2014 and have information about a passenger being assaulted by a crewmember, please contact our firm toll free at (800) 499-0551.

March 20, 2014

Carnival Splendor Cruise Passenger Medevaced En Route to the Bahamas

Coast Guard Rescue Cruise Passenger.jpgThe Coast Guard rescued a 66-year-old passenger aboard the Carnival cruise ship Splendor early yesterday morning. The cruise ship radioed the Coast Guard at 10:45 p.m. Tuesday that a male passenger was in medical distress. A MH-60 Jayhawak helicopter crew met Splendor at 1:30 a.m. the next mornign while the ship was near the North Carolina coast. It is unknown if the passenger suffered an accident aboard the cruise ship. The Splendor is currently making weekly voyages from New York to the Bahamas.

March 7, 2014

Passenger with Collapsed Lung Taken Off Disney Fantasy

Disney Cruise Collapsed Lung.jpgIt is being widely reported that a 21-year-old passenger was medically evacuated from the Disney Fantasy last Thursday after complaining of chest pains. It has been learned that the man had completed two scuba dives the day before. X-rays preformed aboard the cruise ship showed one of his lungs was 40% collapsed. Based upon this medical finding, the Coast Guard was notified and a helicopter crew was dispatched to take the ill passenger off the ship. The passenger was taken to Mariner's Hospital in Tavanier.

February 13, 2014

Cruise Ships and Norovirus

Cruise Norovirus.jpgThere has been much in the news lately about Norovirus outbreaks aboard cruise ships. The most noteworthy is the outbreak that occurred on the Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas where nearly 700 people were stricken by Norovirus. Princess Cruise Lines and NCL also had Norovirus outbreaks aboard their ships already this year. A casual observer may ask, why Norovirus and cruise ships go hand-in-hand? The answer is simple. Gastrointestional viruses are highly contagious. Cruise ships are floating cities where thousands of people touch common objects such as handrails, elevator buttons, door handles and the like. Infected people leave the virus on those surfaces and non-infected passengers touch the infected surfaces and the virus passes. Another reason why Norovirus flourishes on cruise ships is by the way cruise lines utilize their staff. A person who had a case of Norovirus can transmit the bug to others for two weeks or more after the symptoms subside. As a cruise injury attorney, I have read thousands of crew medical files. From my experience, cruise lines have an interest to keep their staff working and to return them back to duty as soon as possible so they could crew these massive floating hotels. The statistics from the CDC always report many more passengers as being infected than crewmembers. In the case of the Explorer of the Seas outbreak 634 (20.6%) passengers reported having the virus was only 55 (4.7%) crewmember reported symptoms. NCL's Norwegian Star outbreak is similar. In that case, ill passengers totaled 130 (5.61%) as opposed to 12 (1.15%) crewmembers. Likewise, Princess Cruise Lines' Caribbean Princess outbreak had 181 (5.8%) reported ill whereas the crew total was only 11 (0.96%). This means the cruise lines are most likely sending crewmembers back to work even though they still carry and could transmit the virus to others. These same crewmembers that have been found "fit for duty" by the ship doctors are making the passengers' beds, cooking and serving food for the buffets as well as making the drinks at the ship's bars. In other words, the cruise lines could be playing a large role in causing these outbreaks. Given cruise lines are money driven and the only way they make money is constantly operating their ship sick crew and all, I do not think we have heard the last of Norovirus outbreak on cruise ships.

February 7, 2014

Florida Boat Accident Victims Can Choose the Court in which Bring a Lawsuit

Florida Boat Accident Lawyer.jpgMost Florida boat accident victims do not know there is a law on the books which allows boat owners to sue them in Federal court! The goal of such lawsuits is to obtain a ruling that either exonerates the boat owner from wrong doing or limit the amount the injured in the boating accident could receive in compensation. The Shipowners' Limitation of Liability Act passed by Congress in 1851 allows just that. Most people are also unaware this federal law also allows the boat owner to pick the court where the lawsuit must take place. Let's assume you were injured in a boating accident and your lawyer files the case in the local state court. Under the Act, the boat owner's lawyer can file a lawsuit in Federal court which could be hundreds of miles from where you live. The federal judge will then order the state court to relinquish jurisdiction requiring you to re-file your case in the federal court where the boat owner selected.

The Purpose Behind the Act

The original purpose of the case was to promote American shipbuilding in a time where insurance was not common. The idea behind the law was Americans would enter the shipping business if there existed an incentive in place to limit their liability to the ship value should an accident occur. Times have changed and most boat owners have liability insurance. However, the law is still on the books. There is, however, good news for Florida boat accident injury victims. The Eleventh Federal Circuit Court has taken a very hostile view of this act calling it "hopelessly anachronistic". Through the years, the Eleventh Circuit issued multiple legal options which have eroded the competitive edge given boat owners by the Act. What has become known as the "Signal Claimant Exception" is one such instance.

Miami Boat Accident.jpg

The Signal Claimant Exception

The Signal Claimant Exception allows a Florida boat injury victim to proceed in state court despite the boat owner's federal action. In order to accomplish this, the injury victim must agree in writing to not collect on the state court judgment until the federal court decides the issue of whether the boat owner is entitled to be exonerated from wrong doing or allowed to limit the state court judgment to the value of the boat. Once this agreement is filed, the federal trial judge can stay the federal lawsuit and allowed the case to proceed in the local state court. After the state court trial, the federal case will be reopened wherein the federal judge can decide whether or not the owner should be exonerated from wrong doing or the state court jury verdict reduced to the value of the boat.

Expansion of the Signal Claimant Exception

Typically the Signal Claimant Exception scenario occurs when the Florida boat injury victim's lawyer files the state court lawsuit before the boat owner files the federal action. An Eleventh Circuit case decided this month addressed a situation where the boat owner filed the lawsuit first. That case involved a woman who was injured in a boat accident in Palm Beach County, Florida. The boat owner filed the federal action before the injured woman filed her state court lawsuit. The boat owner argued that since it "won the race to the courthouse" and filed first, it should get to decide where the trial should occur. The Eleventh Circuit rejected this argument. The published legal decision discusses at length the tension between the right of an injured person to select the location of where the case is to be tried and the right of a boat owner to have a federal judge decide issues of exoneration and/or limitation of liability. Relying on its long history of refusing to expand the rights of boat owners afforded under the Act, the Eleventh Circuit found the Signal Claimant Exception applies to situations where the boat owner files federal lawsuit was filed first.

The Florida Board Certified Maritime Lawyers of Brais, Brais & Rusak are keenly aware of the Limitation of Liability Act's nuisances. The law firm has handled several such cases involved Florida boat injury victims and have wrote comprehensive legal papers on the Limitation of Liability Act which were presented at maritime law symposiums. If you are a victim of a Florida boating accident and would like to learn more about your rights, fell free to contact us.

February 6, 2014

Injured Cruise Passenger with Fractured Hip taken off the Carnival Splendor

Injured Passenger Carnival Splendor.jpgThe Coast Guard reports it has airlifted an injured cruise passenger who fell and broke her hip aboard the Carnival Splendor today. The 3,006 passenger cruise ship was off the New Jersey coast when the Coast Guard received the call that an at-sea rescue was necessary. A helicopter crew from Air Station Atlantic City hoisted the 84-year-old Canadian woman and transferred her to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center for further treatment. The injured passenger's condition is unknown at this time. The Carnival Splendor is currently making weekly voyages to the Bahamas from New York. This instance marks the second time this week the Coast Guard had to medevac an injured passenger from a Carnival cruise ship. On Wednesday the a passenger experiencing extreme abdominal pain was airlifed off the Carnival Fascination.

February 6, 2014

Holland American Cruise Passenger Dies after Accidental Fall

Holland American Trip Injury Lawyer.jpgA Hawaiian medical examiner ruled the death of a passenger who fell aboard a Holland American cruise ship an accident. James Harte of Salt Lake City, Utah died last week at hospital in Oahu, Hawaii four days after falling aboard the Veendam cruise ship. The autopsy revealed the fall caused a cranial cerebral injury which resulted in the passenger's death. No foul play is suspected. It is unknown at this time what caused the man to fall or the area of the cruise ship the accident took place. The Veendam is currently making Panama Canal crossings between San Diego, California and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

February 6, 2014

Injured Cruise Passenger taken off Carnival Fantasy

Carnival Fantasy Passenger Injury.jpgCarnival Cruise Lines confirms an injured cruise passenger was medically evacuated off the Carnival Fantasy yesterday. The 855-foot cruise ship was returning to Charleston, South Carolina on its last leg of a five-day Bahamian cruise when the call for help went out. A helicopter crew from Air Station Miami met the Fantasy off the Florida coast and airlifted the man and a ship's nurse to Cape Canaveral Hospital. Though the exact injury is unknown, a Coast Guard press release states the 27-year-old passenger was having severe abdominal pain.

February 5, 2014

Dissatisfied Employees at Sandals' Royal Bahamian Spa Resort Poised to Strike

Sandals Royal Bahamian Spa Resort Strike.jpgBahamian newspapers are reporting that there is a possibility of a labor strike at the Sandals' Royal Bahamian Spa Resort & Offshore Island. Seemingly at the heart of this labor dispute is Sandals alleged actions of firing three pregnant maids and workers who join the union. Trade Union Congress president, Obie Ferguson, stated 90% of the resort's workers took part in a strike vote last week. Sandals Resort's public relations officer Stephen Hector claims the number is lower and disputes that the company knew the maids were pregnant when they were terminated. Sandals subsequently offered to hire back the maids.

In an effort to downplay the image of a "disgruntled and downtrodden workforce" portrayed by the union, Sandals claims only 187 employees or 25% percent of the workforce voted for the strike. Mr. Hector also went on records as saying, "we are astonished by the union's ongoing efforts to destabilize the resort's 720-strong workforce and undermine our efforts to drive tourism in the Bahamas." From this statement, on can come away with the opinion that Sandals is just fine with 25% of its staff being dissatisfied with the way they are being treated as long as the company keeps bringing tourists to the Bahamas. However, Mr. Hector does state, "At Sandals, we do not shy away from our responsibilities and we recognize that the 187 team members who felt compelled to vote for a strike is 187 too many. We will work hard to ensure that we offer those team members along with the workforce as a whole a comfortable and inspiring place to come to work each day."

It is interesting to note, Sandals has decided to keep the Royal Bahamian Spa Resort open for business should the strike occur. Setting the labor dispute aside, it is unclear what, if any, impact a strike cause on American tourists' safety and well-being. There are many questions that have yet to be answered. Will Sandals hire non-union replacement labor or operate with a reduced staff? Will Sandals employ extra security guards to protect American vacationers from any potential violence that may erupt from the strike?

If you are currently staying or working at the Sandals Royal Bahamian Resort, we would like to know your opinions on the overall mood of the staff. You may leave a comment below or join the discussion on the Brais, Brais & Rusak Facebook page.