January 2012 Archives

January 31, 2012

Cruise Passenger Arrested for Raping a Teenage Girl aboard the Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas Pleads Not Guilty

Royal Caribbean Cruise Passenger Rape Law.jpgAs we reported in the article Men Charged for Passenger Rape aboard Royal Caribbean Ship a 20-year Brazilian man and a teenage boy are accused of raping a 15-year girl during a cruise aboard the Royal Caribbean ship Allure of the Seas. Arrest reports state the boy lured the girl to his cabin under false pretenses then both men raped her after refusing to allow her to leave. The Brazilian national, Luiz Scavone, entered a not guilty plea at his arraignment Monday, January 30, 2012 on the count of lewd and lascivious acts on a minor. Scavone and his teenaged accomplice (name withheld from the public) await trial for their alleged sexual assault in Broward County Circuit Court.

January 29, 2012

The COSTA CONCORDIA Disaster and Injured Passengers' Lawsuits

Costa Concordia Injury Law.jpgIn the wake of the COSTA CONCORDIA disaster, there is much discussion on what rights injured passengers and the families of those unfortunate passengers who perished may have against the cruise line. The gamut of "advice" has run from excellent to downright wrong. Commentary by established Miami cruise accident attorneys has been both precise and well informed. The same cannot be said about some land based attorneys who haven't a clue about the many nuances of cruise line personal injury and wrongful death law. This article intends to separate fact from fiction, concerning those unfortunate passengers, seamen and crew personnel who were seriously injured or lost their lives aboard the ill fated COSTA CONCORDIA.

Where the Lawsuit Must be Filed?

Many commentators have tried to link the fact that Costa has a registered agent in Hollywood, Florida and that Costa's parent corporation, Carnival Corporation, is headquartered in the Miami, Florida as justification for lawsuits arising from this tragedy to be filed in Miami, Florida. In our opinion, this analysis is flawed. Costa, like every major cruise line, issues a ticket which explains the rights and obligations of the passengers. Costa's ticket has a forum selection clause that states personal injury and wrongful deaths occurring on a cruise which does not depart from or return to a United States port must be filed in Genoa, Italy. Specifically, the Costa ticket states:

Voyages That Do Not Depart from, Return to, or Visit a U.S. Port -
All claims, controversies, disputes, suits and matters of any kind whatsoever arising out of, concerned with or incident to any voyage that does not depart from, return to, or visit a U.S. port, or to this Contract if issued in connection with such a voyage, shall be instituted only in the courts of Genoa, Italy, to the exclusion of the courts of any other county, state or nation. Italian law shall apply to any such proceedings.

THIS "FORUM SELECTION CLAUSE" APPLIES TO AMERICAN CITIZENS. The United States Supreme Court in Shute v. Carnival required a passenger who lived in Oregon, and was injured during a cruise from California to Mexico, to file suit in Miami. This case is the foundation for the enforcement of forum selection clauses. In September of 2010, the Maritime Law Blog in an article entitled Injured Cruise Passenger Required to Sue Cruise Line in Paris reported on the Federal Eleventh Circuit holding of Seung v. Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Inc. In this case the Eleventh Circuit (the same court which will be reviewing any COSTA CONCORDIA case filed in the Southern District of Florida), held the trial court was proper in dismissing a personal injury claim by and an American citizen who was injured on a European cruise where the cruise ticket contained a Paris, France forum selection clause. The Eleventh Circuit paid no mind to the argument that the case could be filed in Florida because Regent Seven Seas Cruises, the owner of the cruise ship, maintains its corporate headquarters in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The court also rejected the argument that the injured woman did not have the financial resources and was too ill to maintain a lawsuit in France.

Attorneys filing CONCORDIA lawsuits in Florida will have an uphill battle convincing the court not to dismiss the claims based upon the Genoa, Italy forum selection clause given the prior decisions by the Supreme Court and Eleventh Circuit.

What Law is to Apply?

Assuming the court invalidates the Genoa, Italy forum selection clause and keeps the claim in the United States, the next issue is what law is to apply. Again, many non-maritime attorneys have taken the view that since Carnival owns Costa, American maritime law will apply. Despite what has been said by some commentators, as shown above Costa's ticket incorporates the law of Italy as the law, which will govern the dispute.

Courts have found choice of law provisions enforceable in maritime contracts especially where one of the contracting parties is from the country of the selected law, the voyage departed from and was to return to a port governed by the selected law, the injury or death occurred within the waters governed by the foreign law and the subject vessel was registered and flagged under the selected law. In the situation of the COSTA CONCORDIA disaster, Costa is an Italian company, the voyage was between two Italian Ports, the shipwreck occurred in Italian waters and the vessel is Italian flagged. A court deciding the issue will most likely enforce the Italian choice of law clause despite the fact that Costa is owned by a company headquartered in Miami, Florida.

Difference Between United States and Italian Personal Injury Damages
United States Maritime law allows for an injured cruise passenger to receive compensation for lost earnings, medical bills as well as pain and suffering. The Unites States Supreme Court in Atlantic Sounding v. Townsend has recently held injured persons are allowed to bring claims for punitive damages under maritime common law. The Maritime Law Blog recently reported that a Florida Federal court applied Townsend to allow the possibility of punitive damages by a passenger against a cruise line in the article Punitive Damages Available for Cruise Passenger Personal Injury Claims.

Like United States maritime law, Italian law allows for the recovery of pecuniary losses (danno patrimoniale), which is loss of income and medical expenses arising from the injury and for two forms of non-pecuniary damages: injury to the victim's personal integrity (danno biologic) and pain and suffering experienced as a result of the harmful event (danno morale). The one major difference between United States and Italian maritime law is that Italian law does not allow for punitive damages. The Italian Supreme Court in 2007 stated in the Corte di Cassazione decision, "tort law aims at re-establishing the economic integrity of persons who sustained a loss suffered... the objective of punishment and of sanction is alien to the system and for the purpose, the examination of a wrongdoer's conduct is irrelevant." As such, Italian jurisprudence does not allow for punitive damages in personal injury or wrongful death claims no matter how egregious the conduct. Consequently, should the court apply Italian law to the COSTA CONCORDIA cases, punitive damages will not be recoverable.

Limitation of Damages

Costa's ticket also seeks to limit its liability for its non-United States voyages in accordance with the Athens Convention. Specifically, Costa's ticket provides:

Notwithstanding any provision of this Contract or law to the contrary, as to any voyage occurring wholly outside the United States, the Carrier claims the benefit of all restrictions, exemptions and limitations of liability set forth in the "Convention Relating to the Carriage of Passengers and Their Luggage by Sea of 1974" as well as the "Protocol to the Convention Relating to the Carriage of Passengers and Their Luggage by Sea of 1976" ("Athens Convention"), and the "Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims" of 1976 ("LLMC Convention") which limit the liability of the Carrier for death of or personal injury to the Passenger to no more than 46,666 Special Drawing Rights ("SDRs") as defined therein, and all other limits for damage or loss to personal property. The value of 46,666 SDRs is equal to approximately U.S. $70,900 at the time of printing of this Contract...

The Athens Convection, though never formally ratified by Italy, is a part of the law of the European Union which Italy is a member. The dollar limitation of the Athens Convention is, however, not absolute. In situations where the conduct leading to injury was intentional or reckless, the limitation clause may be deemed unenforceable. It can most certainly be argued that the actions of the COSTA CONCORDIA's captain were reckless which may break the limitation provision.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the COSTA CONCORDIA problem is very complex. The survivors and the families of those who perished in the disaster should be very careful and very selective in following the advice being put forth in various media. For those passengers, crew and seamen affected by this terrible event we strongly recommend you contact a qualified maritime attorney to discuss your rights.

Photo Credit: The Sun

January 28, 2012

Carnival Cruise Passenger Falls to his Death Aboard the Fantasy

Carnival Fantasy Lawyer.jpgMultiple media sources are reporting a passenger aboard the Carnival cruise ship Fantasy fell to his death from one of the upper decks of the ship's atrium to the lobby level on January 27, 2012. The Carnival Fantasy was on a five day trip from Charleston to the Bahamas and was docket at Nassau when the tragic event occurred. The Bahamian authorities boarded the Carnival Fantasy to investigate the incident. Although the ship was cleared to sail by Bahamian authorities the next morning, the delay caused by the investigation caused Carnival to cancel the cruise liner's visit to Freeport. The victim's identity was not released but it was obtain that he was a 26-year-old passenger from South Carolina. Carnival Corporation is the parent company of Costa Cruises, whose Costa Concordia liner ran aground off the Italian coast this month, killing at least 17 and injuring several others.

January 26, 2012

Man Evacuated from Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Jewel of the Seas

Royal Caribbean Jewel of the Seas Accident Lawyer.jpgThe Coast Guard reports it medically evacuated a 37-year-old man from the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Jewel of the Seas approximately 25 miles west of Sanibel Island, Florida Sunday, January 22, 2012.

At 2:57 a.m. Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg command center received a request from the Royal Caribbean cruise ship concerning a man that was exhibiting heart attack symptoms and was in need of immediate medical evacuation. No accident was reported. A Coast Guard flight surgeon was consulted and a medevac was recommended. However, the surgeon concluded it would be too risky to fly the patient in a helicopter. At 3:30 a.m., a 41' Coast Guard utility boat crew from Station Fort Myers Beach, Florida, along with a local emergency medical technician (EMT), were dispatched to meet the cruise ship. The rescue team met the Jewel of the Seas at 6:10 a.m. and the EMT was able to safely transfer the man from the cruise ship onto the Coast Guard utility vessel. The man was medevaced to Coast Guard Station Fort Myers Beach where local EMS personnel took over and transported him to Lee Memorial Hospital. The man's condition is unknown at this time.

Photo Credit: U.S. Coast Guard

January 24, 2012

Florida Kayak Accidents, Injuries, Deaths and the Law

Kayak Injury Lawyer.jpgThe popularity of kayaking, and kayak fishing, has exploded in Florida. I have been a kayak angler for over nine years and have seen the sport grow from a few anglers pocketed in particular geographic locations to a statewide phenomenon. A few years ago, information about ocean kayak rigging and techniques was only available through trial-and-error or a close-nit network of fishermen. Today there are multiple magazines dedicated to kayak fishing and fishing shows often showcase the sport. There even is a national kayak fishing tournament where several hundred anglers participate each year. Though avid kayakers find the sport both challenging and rewarding, it is not without additional risk. The biggest man-made danger comes from the interactions between motor boats and kayaks. This is especially so in Florida where there are more registered motor boats than any other state. These two types of vessel operators must live in harmony in order to avoid accidents, injuries and deaths.

I have been involved with some close calls with motor boats whose operators were either not paying attention to where they were going or ignorant of the navigational rules. The photograph appearing at the top right tells such a story. My friend and kayak angling teammate Robinson Rodriguez (pictured above) and I were fishing off Ft. Lauderdale, Florida when I noticed a commercial sport fishing boat coming straight at me. The captain was on the bridge talking on his cell phone paying attention to what was going on in back of his boat and not where he was going. Amazed at the sheer negligence of a professional charter boat captain, I sounded my air horn. The noise got the captain's attention who immediately altered course. This was good for me but bad for Rob as the fifty plus foot craft was now heading right at him. The fishing boat notices Rob and again altered course missing his kayak by feet. The fishing lines the sportfish was trolling tangled with Rob's line. The sportfish then started dragging Rob for several yards without so much as slowing down until the lines came free. This is just one near collision of many I have experienced and Florida kayakers have several other stories. We were lucky that day and could have been seriously injured or worse if there was a collision.

This article is intended to explain the proper interaction between motor boats and kayaks by discussing some of the more commonly violated navigation rules along with the civil liabilities should a collision occur.

Navigational Rules

Several of the maritime nations in 1972 formed a set of navigational rules designed to minimize collisions. The United States adopted these rules in 1977 and has become a part of our national law. Though there are slight differences between the inland and international navigation rules, this article will only discuss the international rules as they will apply to most meetings between kayaks and motors boats in the ocean and are very similar to the pertinent inland rules.

Keeping a Lookout - Rule 5

All vessels (kayaks and motor boats) must keep a proper lookout in order to make a full appraisal of the situation and of the risk of collision. This is easy for kayakers. By simply keeping the head up a kayaker can observe what is transpiring in the area. In fact, most often I am able to hear motor boats miles before they reach my area. Be vigilant and prepare to act if a motor boat starts to come too close. Motor boaters are required to look for all craft big and small. The operator and guests should share in the responsibility of keeping an eye out for other craft. This will significantly lessen the potential of a collision.

Maintaining Safe Speed - Rule 6

Navigational Rule 6 requires every vessel at all times to proceed at a safe speed so that proper and effective action can be taken to avoid collision as well as stop within a distance appropriate with the prevailing circumstances and conditions. It makes common sense to operate a motor boat at a slower speed in areas where other less maneuverable craft are typically found such as busy inlets, bays and close to the beaches. This is most often is violated by weekend boaters -- though I have witnessed professional captains run yachts at high rates of speed mere yards from swim buoys that line many of Florida's beaches. Violation of this rule in combination with not having a proper lookout often leads to collisions.

Monitoring Radar - Rule 7

Modern radars available to the public have advanced to detect small targets on the water including kayaks. The navigational rules are written in such a way that if a vessel is equipped with operational radar, it must be used. Should a motor boat outfitted with radar collide with a kayak, it is no excuse that the radar was not turned on.

Right of Way - Rule 18

Navigational Rule 18 requires power driven vessels to give way to a non-power driven vessel. Traditionally kayaks have been paddle propelled. Manufacturers have been recently outfitting kayaks with peddle drives. Motor boats bear the same legal responsibility when encountering kayaks no matter if the craft is paddle and peddle propelled. This means when approaching a non-motorized kayak, the power boat must give the kayaker the right of way. It should also be understood a sailboat operating its engines (even when the sails are also up) are considered motor boats in the eyes of the law and must abide by the Navigational Rule 18 as if it is a motor boat.

An important exception to this rule is if the motor boat is operating in a narrow channel or inlet. In such meeting situations, the kayak must give way to the motor boat if the motor boat will likely run aground if required to give way to the kayak.

The rules governing kayaks with motors are different. If the kayak is outfitted with a motor (even an electric motor), it must follow the same rules as motor boats. This means in a meeting situation, the vessel on the starboard tack, whether it is a kayak or motor boat, has the right of way.

No matter if the kayaker is in motorized or non-motorized kayak, if a motor boat is bearing down and does not show signs of altering course, the navigation rules require the stand on vessel (the kayak) to take all necessary means to avoid a collision. This is also simply common sense.

Civil Liability

Maritime law is particularly harsh to violators of safety laws including the aforementioned navigational rules. The Supreme Court as far back as 1873 set forth a rule of law that presumes the vessel operator at fault for a collision if, at the time of collision, the operator violated a statutory rule intended to prevent collisions. Most importantly, this presumption can only be rebutted if the operator shows not only that the violation might not have been one of the causes, or that it probably was not a cause, but that it could not have been a cause of the collision. This heavy burden is often not met.

Damages

Most kayakers stay within Florida territorial waters which are defend by the Florida Constitution as three nautical miles from the Atlantic coastline and nine nautical miles from the Gulf shore. Should a collision occur within Florida territorial waters resulting in personal injuries or death, Florida damages law will apply to the civil lawsuit to the exclusion of Federal maritime damages law.

The application of Florida damages law as opposed to Federal maritime damages law is most important in wrongful death cases. The Federal Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA) is very limited. Under DOSHA, the estate cannot recover pre-death pain and suffering and only actual dependents can make claims. In short, if the decedent does not have a spouse or dependent children, the value of his or her life is reduced essentially to burial expenses and lost earnings the decedent would probably accrue during his life. Moreover, punitive damages are not available under DOHSA no matter how egregious the conduct of the offending boat operator. Florida wrongful death law provides much more. Florida benefits include lost of the decedent's earnings, funeral expenses but also pre-death pain and suffering. Also certain survivors such as a spouse and minor children are entitled monetary damages for the loss of comfort and guidance they would have received from their deceased loved one. Moreover, given a recent ruling by the Supreme Court, punitive damages may also be available if the motor boat operator acted willfully or recklessly in causing the collision.

Florida personal injury law allows for compensatory damages in the form of payment of medical bills, lost wages as well as pain and suffering for those injured but not killed in a collision occurring within Florida waters. Furthermore, punitive damages may also be available in certain situations.

Conclusion

Kayakers and boaters must be aware of the navigational rules in order to safely share Florida's beautiful waters together. It is ever so important that safety should be in the forefront of everyone's mind who goes on the water. If not, accidents will happen and people will needlessly be injured or killed.

January 20, 2012

Boater Ran Over in Accident Near Key Largo, Florida

Floirda Boat Accident Lawyer.jpgKeyNet.com reports a vacationer from Canada nearly lost his leg in a boating accident on January 11, 2012 near Angelfish Creek, off North Key Largo. Thomas N. Davidson, 52, of Ottawa was ejected from a 16' Dolphin flats boat owned by Tom Davidson, 71, of Key Largo in a side creek off Angelfish Creek. After falling overboard, the boat circled back and ran over the younger Davidson causing severe lacerations to his leg.

The flats boat was observed circling by personal watercraft operators in the area who then noticed the injured Davidson clinging to mangroves. The watercraft riders transported Davidson to the Ocean Reef Club where he was initially treated before being medevaced by helicopter to Miami's Ryder Trauma Center. The boat later crashed into the nearby mangroves.

Bobby Dube, the officer with the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission who investigated the boating accident, commented, "This type of accident is a very good reason why boat operators should consider installing a kill-switch on their vessels." Davidson's condition is unknown at this time.

January 18, 2012

Passenger Medevaced off Norwegian Dawn Cruise Ship

Norwegian Dawn Passenger Injury Lawyer.bmpA cruise ship passenger aboard the Norwegian Dawn in need of medical attention was medically evacuated by the Coast Guard Monday, Jan. 16, near the Bahamas. A helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, Florida, safely hoisted the 75-year-old passenger from Canada and a ship's nurse from the cruise ship and transferred them to medical facility in Nassau, Bahamas. Medical evacuations from cruise ships are quite common.


January 18, 2012

Brais & Brais' Maritime Lawyers' Expertise Sought for an Article on the Ship Owners Limitation of Liability Act

Florida Boat Accident Lawyers.jpgBrais & Brais' maritime lawyers Keith Brais and Richard Rusak were asked by Florida Lawyers Mutual to contribute to an article showcasing the Ship Owner's Limitation of Liability Act. The Limitation of Liability Act enables vessel owners in certain situations to limit their liability for boating accidents to the vessel's value. Though intended to encourage American commercial shipping during a time where marine insurance was difficult to obtain, the loose language of the over 150 year law has been recently held to apply to recreational boat accidents. This little known and complicated area of maritime law routinely trips up general practice attorneys prompting Florida Lawyers Mutual, an insurance company specializing in legal malpractice claims, to address the Act in its quarterly publication.

The article entitled THE SHIPOWNERS LIMITATION OF LIABILITY ACT OF 1851: Over 150 Years Old and Still Creating Malpractice Risks for Attorneys discusses various nuances of the Limitation of Liability Act including the time in which a boat owner can invoke the protection of the Act, the shortened statute of limitations an injured person has to bring claim when the boat owner invokes the Act as well as various situations where the Act applies and does not apply.

Attorneys Brais & Rusak are Board Certified by the Florida Bar in the area of admiralty & maritime law and have previously authored a comprehensive article on the Limitation of Liability Act that was presented at the prestigious Southeastern Admiralty Law Institute annual maritime law seminar. Brais & Brais has extensive experience with the Limitation of Liability Act and are routinely engaged by injured parties to represent them when a boat owner invokes the Act's protections.

January 15, 2012

Costa Cruise Ship Concordia Shipwrecked Leaving Multiple Passengers Dead and Injured

Costa Injury.jpgThe 4,232 passenger cruise ship Costa Concordia grounded after it struck a rock formation near the Italian island of Giglio on Friday, January 13, 2012. At the time of this article, 5 people are reported dead, 17 missing and scores injured.
The Concordia was sailing from Civitavecchia to Savona when the shipwreck occurred. The vessel struck a rock at night tearing a 150 foot gash in its side and bottom. Water entering the cruise ship caused it to list dangerously to one side. Though badly damaged, the Concordia was able to maneuver to shallower waters in order to expedite evacuation efforts. Maritime investigators are still trying to determine exactly what caused the ship to run aground. Most amazingly is the Concordia sails that route every week. It is also interesting that no distress call was sent until after the evacuation was started.

The cruise ship's captain, Francesco Schettino, 52, has been detained by Italian police and is under investigation for manslaughter and abandoning the ship. Captain Schettino, an 11 year employee of Costa Cruises, claims the rocks the ship struck were not properly marked on nautical charts. He also claims he was the last one to leave the disabled vessel. First officer Ciro Ambrosio has also been detained.

Though the Concordia's passengers were mostly European, there were over 100 Americans on board. As the Concordia was on an Italian voyage and did not touch an American port during the cruise, United States law will most likely not apply to this disaster. Instead, the more restrictive Athens Convention will most likely govern any wrongful death and personal injury action stemming from this disaster. Unlike American maritime law which does not have damage caps, the Athens Convention limits cruise lines' liability to a maximum of approximately $71,000 for each person who died or was injured.

The Concordia's grounding is just the latest in a series of mishaps involving Costa cruise ships within recent years. In 2010, the Costa Europa violently struck a pier at Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt when the captain decided to dock the vessel in high winds instead of skipping the port like other cruise ships scheduled to dock that day. That unfortunate event injured 4 passengers and killed 3 crewmembers including spa workers employed by the Florida based Steiner company which manages spas for several major cruise lines. Also in 2010, the Costa Classica collided with a cargo ship in China's Yangtze River injuring three people.

Costa is a subsidiary of the Miami based Carnival Corporation. Costa primarily operates cruise ships in the Mediterranean but does sail from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and sometimes Miami, Florida in the winter.

Photo Credit: ABC News

January 8, 2012

Injured Woman on Cruise Medevaced from Emerald Princess

Cruise Injury Lawyer.jpgAn injured woman was medevaced January 6, 2012 from the Emerald Princess cruise ship off Nassau, Bahamas.

At approximately 1:30 p.m. the Coast Guard was notified that a person sustained a sever spinal compression and required medical assistance. An HC-144 Ocean Sentry fixed-wing aircraft crew from Air Station Miami, Florida was first to arrive and coordinated the evacuation with the cruise ship. Later a MH-65 helicopter crew met the Emerald Princess at approximately 7 p.m. and transported the 55-year-old to Nassau International Airport for further medical care.

The Emerald Princess was on a Caribbean cruise leaving from Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The injured woman's condition is unknown at this time.

January 6, 2012

Norovirus Outbreak on New Orleans Based Norwegian Cruise Line Ship Spirit

Norwegian Spirit Norovirus Lawyer.jpgThe Centers for Disease Control CDC reports the Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) cruise ship Spirit experienced a Norovirus outbreak during the December 18-25, 2011 voyage. During that time, 94 passengers and 14 crew members reported to have symptoms Norovirus symptoms including vomiting and diarrhea. On Christmas day CDC inspectors boarded the cruise ship in New Orleans to conduct a health assessment and evaluation of the outbreak. Stool specimens sent to the CDC lab in Atlanta confirms the outbreak was caused by Norovirus.

The majority people who come down with Norovirus recover in a few days. There are instances, however, where Norovirus can cause significant health risks and can even lead to death. Those most susceptible to life threatening complications from Norovirus are young children, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems. Those infected can still pass Norovirus for several days after symptoms of the illness subside. This is why cruise ships are often a hot bed for Norovirus outbreaks. Sick crew members return to duty after the symptoms subside and handle food, dishes, and utensils all the while spreading the virus. Norovirus and other gastrointestinal illnesses are so prevalent in the cruise industry the CDC set up the Vessel Sanitation Program. This program monitors cruise ships which return to port with outbreaks. Given the closed nature of cruise ships, cruise passengers should wash their hands before every meal and after visiting common areas such as elevators, casinos and lounges.

The cruise ship injury lawyers of Brais & Brais have significant experience litigating cases involving passengers who were hospitalized or died from contracting Norovirus on cruise ships. If you were hospitalized from contracting Norovirus on a cruise and wish to learn more about your legal rights, feel free to contact our Florida Board Certified Admiralty and Maritime attorneys.

January 5, 2012

Men Charged for Passenger Rape aboard Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship

Royal Caribbean Cruise Passenger Rape Law.jpgFt. Lauderdale, Florida: Law enforcement arrested Luiz Scavone and a unnamed boy for the alleged rape of a teenaged passenger aboard the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Allure of the Seas. Court documents allege Sacvone and an unnamed teenage boy sexually assaulted a 15-year-old passenger on the last night of a 10 day cruise. Police charged the suspects with lewd and lascivious battery. Arrest papers state the boy met the victim at the cruise ship's teen dance club called Fuel and invited her to a party. The victim stated she thought she would be meeting friends, but when she arrived at the boy's cabin, Scavone, was there. The girl told them she had a curfew and tried to leave. Shortly thereafter both males raped her. The victim reported the sexual assault immediately to Royal Caribbean ship officials.

Scavone appeared before the Broward County Court on January 4th wherein bond was set at $10,000. The Judge also ordered he be outfitted with a GPS monitor if released from jail. Though bond was given, the Federal government placed Scavone on an immigration hold where he cannot be released from jail.


CBS4's Coverage of the Case


January 3, 2012

Cruise Passenger Sexual Assault Victim Hires Brais & Brais' Attorneys

Cruise Passenger Sexual Assault Lawyer.jpgA cruise ship passenger who was sexually assaulted aboard the Norwegian Sky retained the maritime attorneys of Brais & Brais to represent her in a claim against Norwegian Cruise Lines. On the morning of April 11, 2011, a crew member approached Brais & Brais' client, made inappropriate remarks about her body, followed her around the cruise ship and forcibly perpetrated a sexual assault. The trauma of the attack is profound and long lasting. This is the second time in recent months a passenger retained Brais & Brais in regard to a sexual assault aboard a NCL cruise ship.

Cruise lines are strictly liable under maritime law for a sexual assault committed by a crew member against a passenger. This means the cruise line is responsible for damages even though it had no way of stopping the crew member from attacking the passenger. So strong is the law, courts have even held cruise lines responsible for passenger sexual assaults and rapes by crew members occurring on land at various ports of calls.

If you would like to learn more about law as it relates to cruise ship sexual assault, feel free to contact the Florida Bar Board Certified Maritime lawyers of Brais & Brais.