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September 8, 2015

Fire Erupts aboard Carnival Cruise Ship

carnival-liberty_fire-erupts.jpgOn Labor Day, Monday, September 7, 2015, an engine-room fire erupted aboard the Carnival Liberty, a cruise ship carrying over 3,300 passengers and 1,100 crew. Authorities, including the U.S. Coast Guard, are still investigating the cause of the fire, which remains unknown. Various media reports have stated that the fire ignited in the ship's aft engine room while the ship was moored at the pier in St. Thomas, USVI. It is reported that the ship's crew was able to extinguish the fire with the ship's carbon dioxide and Hi-Fog fire suppression systems. No injuries have been reported as a direct result of the fire.

As of Tuesday morning, the ship had not resumed its scheduled itinerary sailings in the Caribbean to ports in Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and St. Maarten. The ship left from San Juan, Puerto Rico on September 6, 2015 and was originally scheduled to return to San Juan on September 13th. Carnival released a statement claiming that all hotel services on the ship, including air conditioning, elevators, toilets and galleys, were fully functional. However, experts and authorities are still assessing the nature and extent of the engine-room fire.

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June 3, 2015

Caribbean Cruise Lines Allowed to Challenge Better Business Bureau's "F" Grade in Court

Florida Carribean Cruise.jpgAfter receiving an "F" grade from the Better Business Bureau of Palm Beach County (BBB), Caribbean Cruise Lines filed a complaint against the consumer protection organization alleging defamation and violation of Florida's Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FUDTPA). The trial court dismissed both claims finding the letter grade is pure opinion which is protected by the First Amendment and therefore cannot a claim for deformation cannot stand as well as the cruise line did not have standing to bring a FDUTPA claim. Caribbean Cruise Lines appealed the decision.

In a multiple paged opinion, the Florida appellate court affirmed the trial court's dismissal of the defamation claim but reversed the dismissal of the FDUPTA claim. The appellate court, without making a determination as to whether the BBB violated the Act, found the trial court erred in its legal finding that Caribbean Cruise Line had not standing to sue. "Standing" is the legal principal that affords a person or company the right to bring a lawsuit. The BBB argued that only consumers of BBB's services have standing, and since the cruise line cannot be a consumer of its services, has no standing to bring a claim. The appellate court found this to be an incorrect statement of law. In doing so, it compared a previous version of the statute which read, "In any individual action brought by a consumer who has suffered a loss as a result of a violation of this part, such consumer may recover..." with the current version which reads "In any individual action brought by a person who has suffered a loss as a result of a violation of this part, such person may recover..." The appellate court reasoned that by rewording the statute, the Florida legislature no longer intended FDUPTA to apply to only consumers, but to other there persons and legal entities who were damaged and could prove the elements of the claim as well. As such, Caribbean Cruise Lines has the right to challenge its "F" grade placed by the BBB and remanded the case back to the trial court for further proceedings.

Caribbean Cruise Lines is headquartered in Ft. Lauderdale and operates cruises from Palm Beach County Florida to the Bahamas. The company made widespread headlines last year when its cruise ship, the Bahamas Celebration, ran aground Free Port causing several hundred people to be evacuated.

May 21, 2015

Boston Based NCL Norwegian Dawn Cruise Ship Runs Aground

Norwegian Dawn Grounding.jpgHow does a modern cruise ship run aground? That is what maritime investigators will be trying to sort out over the coming months in the case of Boston based Norwegian Dawn grounding on a charted reef off the Bermuda coast. The liner had just left King's Wharf on Hamilton Island to start its last leg of its voyage back to Boston when it grounded. Though no reports have been made as to the exact number of people who were aboard, the Norwegian Dawn can carry more than 2,000 passengers and up to 1,059 crew members. What makes this grounding noteworthy is that this ship is not a rust bucket in its last stages of useful life owned by a nearly defunct shipping company. On the contrary, this cruise ship is equipped with sophisticated electronic navigational and steering equipment as well as depth recorders which sound warnings when entering dangerously shallow waters. Again, how does a modern cruise ship run aground?

Typically there are three reasons: environmental, equipment failure, and human error. NCL (Bahamas) Ltd., the ship's operator which is based in Miami, blames the marine casualty on an equipment failure, more specifically, a malfunction of the steering system. The Norwegian Dawn is no stranger to equipment failures. In 2013, a power failure left the ship dead in the water for hours and in 2009 a power failure left the cruise liner without running water, air conditioning and working toilets. Though NCL blames the grounding on equipment failure, it fails to mention whether the navigational officers could have prevented the incident when they knew or should have known the steering system was not properly working. These issues will be investigated and a governmental report will follow.

More worrisome than the ship's checkered past regarding power failure are the reports of how the crew reacted in the moments after the grounding. The Associated Press reports that passengers observed some "crew members running around in a panic". This suggests a lack of training in emergency situations on the part of NCL. Lack of crew training was a significant contributing factor to the loss of life in the Costa Concordia disaster as several news outlets reported that the crew admitted they were not trained to evacuate passengers. It would stand to reason, that in the wake of such a maritime disaster as Costa Concordia, a major cruise line would conduct regular crew training for emergency situations.

Cruise lines owe their passengers the legal duty of reasonable care. This means performing periodic systems checks and emergency drills to determine whether the ship is sufficiently seaworthy to safely carry passengers and its officers and crew properly trained to act in a reasonable prudent manner when an emergency occurs. Time will tell if NCL met this legal standard.

Photo Credit: International Business Times

March 29, 2015

Passengers & Crew Evacuated as Smoke Billows from the Carnival Liberty

Carnival Liberty Passenger Evactuation.jpgMultiple news sources are reporting that passengers and crew members were evacuated off the Carnival Liberty when smoke emerged from the forward section of the cruise ship. The incident happened last Friday while the 10-year-old, 2,974 passenger cruise ship was docked in St. Maarten. The smoke billowing from the Carnival Liberty sent fire crews racing to the cruise terminal. A spokesperson from the cruise line stated the smoke was caused by an over-heated bearing. The ship left port as scheduled. No injuries have thus far been reported. The Carnival Liberty currently sails from San Juan, Puerto Rico. The cruise ship is scheduled to replace the Carnival Triumph in Galveston,Texas in March 2016. Readers may remember in 2013 the Carnival Triumph lost all power while in the Gulf of Mexico due to an engine room fire and was towed to Alabama for repairs.

March 18, 2015

Passenger Falls Off Galveston Based Cruise Ship

Carnival Triumph.jpgMultiple media sources are reporting that a passenger is believed to have died after falling off a Galveston based cruise ship operated by Carnival. On the evening of March 17, 2015 shipboard personnel aboard the Triumph were notified that a 57-year-old passenger fell overboard while the ship was off the northern coast of Mexico. CCTV video confirmed the passenger fell overboard. Cruise lines have a duty under maritime law to perform a search and rescue mission once it becomes known that someone, whether that person is a passenger or crew member, has fallen overboard. It is reported that the ship notified Mexican authorities and initiated a search and rescue operation. The next morning Mexican authorities found a body believed to be the passenger who fell off the cruise ship. The Triumph was returning to Galveston from a five day Mexican cruise.

February 13, 2015

Senator McCain's Efforts to Repeal Jones Act Fails

Photo Credit: J. Scott Applewhite Associated jpgLast month, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) sought an amendment to repeal the Jones Act. In a January 13, 2015 Press Release published on his website, Sen. McCain states, "I have long advocated for a full repeal of The Jones Act, an antiquated law that has for too long hindered free trade, made the U.S. industry less competitive and raised prices for American consumers." McCain concludes his statement by calling for his colleagues to "join in this important effort to repeal this archaic legislation to spur job creation and promote free trade." While the Arizona senator is quick to mention the alleged positives that come with repealing the Jones Act, with catch phrases like "job creation" and "free trade," his Press Release fails to address how repealing the Act will eliminate a means of compensation to a large class of employees known as "seamen." Masters, captains, officers, crewmembers, deckhands--to name a few--will all lose a right to sue their employers under a law that's been around for almost a century.

The Jones Act provides a way for employee seamen to hold their employers civilly liable for their injuries, and in more unfortunate cases, death, when such was a result of the employer's negligence. The Act is especially important for seamen given the unique and continuous risks of serious personal injury and death they face on a daily basis. As many courts have noted, by passing the Jones Act, Congress gave seaman a means of obtaining compensation for their injuries, which were "sustained in an inherently dangerous profession." See Am. River Transp. Co. v. Phelps, 189 F. Supp. 2d 835, 849 (S.D. Ill. 2001) (citing Kelley v. Sun Transp. Co., 900 F.2d 1027, 1031 (7th Cir. 1990)).

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December 12, 2014

Oceania Cruise Ship Claims Three Lives

Oceania Insignia Fire.jpgAn engine room fire aboard the Insignia--a cruise ship belonging to Norwegian Cruise Lines' subsidiary, Oceania Cruises--claimed three lives yesterday morning. A total of five individuals were caught in the blaze, specifically, three contractors and two crew members. According to reports, all five were taken to a medical facility in St. Lucia, where the vessel was docked at the time of the accident. One eye-witness to the tragedy stated that one individual passed away before even making it to the dock. Two of the contractors and one crew member died as a result of their injuries while another crew member remains hospitalized. No passengers were harmed. To date, the cause of the fire remains unknown.

General maritime law and perhaps select Federal Statutes intended to protect maritime workers will govern the liability and damage aspects of any lawsuits filed by injured workers or the estates of loved ones lost in this tragedy.

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May 17, 2014

Seamen Have No Claim for Ailments Caused by Work Related Stress

Miami Jones Act Lawyer.jpgIn a rather shocking opinion, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has found seamen who develop ailments, including heart disease, cause by work related stress have no claim against their employers under the Jones Act.

The Jones Act provides seamen injured by the negligence of their employers a cause of action to recover money damages to compensate them for pain, suffering, disfigurement and lost wages caused by the injury. This Act was traditionally liberally construed in the favor of injured seamen. The recent case of Skye v. Maersk Line, unfortunately, has restricted the scope of the Jones Act. In that case, a chief mate developed left ventricular hypertrophy (a thickening of the heart wall of the left ventricle) as a direct result of excessive work hours and an erratic sleep schedule caused by the demands of his employer. The seafarer brought a lawsuit in Miami Federal Court arguing his employer caused his heart disease by negligently overworking him to the point of fatigue. The shipping company filed a motion requesting the court dismiss the claim as a matter of law arguing that no such relief in provided by the Jones Act. The trial court denied the motion and a trial was conducted. The jury found the shipping company 25% liable and awarded $2,362,299.00 to the injured seaman. The court reduced the award to $590,574.75 to account for the seaman's 75% comparative negligence. The employer appealed the decision.

The Eleventh Circuit analyzing the Jones Act and Supreme Court precedent discussing the Federal Employers Liability Act (a companion statute to the Jones Act) concluded seamen are only protected against the negligent conduct of their employers that imminently threatens them with physical impact. Based upon this legal framework, the Eleventh Circuit found injuries caused by work-related stress are not actionable under the Jones Act because an arduous work schedule and irregular sleep schedule are not "physical perils."

The final paragraph of the Eleventh Circuit's legal analysis sheds light on the outcome of the case. The court feared that by allowing such claims would "flood [the courts with] trivial suits, the possibility of fraudulent claims... and the specter of unlimited and unpredictable liability." This case is another example of the contraction of the Eleventh Circuit's treatment of seamen's claim. Such is a shame as courts historically viewed it was their duty to vigilantly protect seamen.

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 4, 2014

Cruise Slip and Falls and Shoulder Injuries

Cruise Slip and Fall Shoulder Injury Lawyer.jpgOur attorneys have represented many clients who sustained shoulder injuries after slipping and falling aboard cruise ships. The most common shoulder injury is a torn rotator cuff. The rotator cuff is a group of four tendons that join the shoulder muscle to the skeletal frame which stabilizes the joint and are responsible for upper arm and shoulder movement.

Rotator cuffs are often torn on cruise ships when the passenger is holding onto a handrail and slips on a slick deck or stairway. The mechanics of falling backward and twisting the shoulder many times causes the tendons making up the rotator cuff to tear and/or separate from the bone. If left untreated, a person may permanently lose the ability to fully rotate their arm. Treatment of rotator cuff injuries often begin with anti-inflammatory medication and physical therapy. If the problem persists, surgery is normally scheduled. Depending upon the injury's severity, the orthopedic surgeon may opt to repair the torn ligament(s) with an arthroscopic procedure. This type of surgery involves the insertions of a small camera, called an arthroscope, into the shoulder joint. The camera displays pictures on a television screen which helps the surgeon guide miniature surgical instruments used to repair the tendons. An arthroscopic procedure is usually performed on an outpatient basis. If the tear is large or complex, the surgeon may have to cut through the muscle and repair or reattach the ligaments in what is called an open procedure.

Rotator Cuff Tear from Crusie Accident.jpgSlip and falls are common on cruise ships. Being that cruise ships see hundreds of thousands of people a year, the anti-slip/skid properties of the deck and stairway coatings break down. The breakdown of the decks protective coating when combined with liquid cause people to slip and fall. The slipperiness of decks is measured by their coefficient of friction value. The coefficient of friction is ratio of the force that maintains contact between an object and a surface and the frictional force that resists the motion of the object. The lower of coefficient of friction value, the more slippery the surface. An expert engineer in recent case handled by our attorneys tested a cruise ship's deck when our client fell. The expert found the area of the deck had a coefficient of friction value of 2.0 - the same as ice!!!

If you suffered a shoulder injury due to a slip and fall on a cruise ship lido deck and want to know more about your legal rights, feel free to contact our Florida Board Certified Maritime Attorneys for a free consultation.

January 7, 2014

Princess Cruise Worker Falls off the Grand Princess

Fall on Grand Princess.jpgThe Coast Guard reports a worker for Princess Cruise Lines has fallen off the Grand Princess cruise ship. The 34-year-old Filipino national was last seen Monday alive Monday night at 10:25 and is said to have gone overboard later that night or early Tuesday morning. The Coast Guard was notified and preformed a search along with the cruise ship and nearby cargo vessel. At this time, he has not been found. The cruise line claims the on board CCTV footage shows the crew member jumping off the ship. The Grand Princess was on a 15 day Hawaiian cruise leaving from San Francisco, California.

This instance is the latest in a recent rash of people falling from cruise ships. The Maritime Law Blog has previously reported on a 26-year-old man fell off the Royal Caribbean Adventure of the Seas on December 28th, a 65-year-old man fell off the Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas on December 31st, a 88-year-old passenger fell off the Holland America Veendam on January 3rd. If you know anything about these incidents, feel free to contact us or leave a comment.

January 3, 2014

Malfunctioning Doors aboard Carnival Cruise Ships are Causing Injuries

Carnival Passenger Injuired from Door.jpgOur cruise injury lawyers have been retained by several Carnival cruise ship passengers who were injured due to malfunctioning doors. These cases are spread throughout the fleet and involve cabin balcony, restroom as well as automatic sliding doors. A cruise line such as Carnival has a legal duty to every passenger to exercise what is known reasonably care under the circumstances. This means the cruise line does not have to provide an accident free ship but must take reasonable precautions to protect passengers from danger. Concerning doors, reasonable precautions would include performing routine maintenance, periodic inspections and, if the door was observed malfunctioning, erecting a barrier until that door is fixed. It is our experience that such precautions are often overlooked and fixes are slow aboard cruise ships. This is why accidents are so prevalent.

As you can imagine, injuries from malfunctioning doors can be traumatic. Our law firm has represented passengers who have had severed fingers, broken necks and torn ligaments due to doors malfunctioning aboard Carnival's cruise ships. If you had an experience with a malfunctioning door aboard a Carnival cruise our attorneys would like to speak with you. Your information will help up better serve our clients and hopefully reverse the course of door injuries occurring on Carnival's ships. Contact options can be found by clicking this link.

December 18, 2013

NCL Passengers Beware: Illness Outbreak aboard the Norwegian Gem

Cruise Illness Lawyer.jpgThe CDC has issued a cruise ship illness outbreak alert for the Norwegian Gem. The report states that during the November 13-25 voyage 111 passengers and 3 crew members reported being ill with vomiting and/or diarrhea. In response to the outbreak NCL, the operator of the Norwegian Gem, increased cleaning and disinfecting procedures as well as collected stool specimens for testing by the CDC. The cruise ship currently makes weekly voyages from New York City.

How Cruise Ship Illness Spreads

Being that thousand passengers and crew members interact for extended periods of time in confined spaces aboard the cruise ships like the Norwegian Gem, gastrointestinal illness can spread rapidly. In cases of Norovirus, a person can remain a carrier for two weeks after the symptoms have passed. Cruise line practices also fuel outbreaks. It is routine procedure for many cruise lines to send their crew members back to work after illness symptoms have disappeared. This means crew members who are still carrying Norovirus often times unwittingly pass the virus along to passengers while serving food and handling objects in the cabin and common areas.

Our Law Firm's Experience Representing Ill Cruise Passengers

Besides becoming violently ill, some people experience other serious health issues that stem from being infected with Norovirus. This law firm has represented passengers who suffered heart attacks, significant infections and even death caused by the taxation to the body Norovirus causes. If you had a life altering event caused by Norovirus contracted from a cruise, our cruise illness attorneys would like to speak with you.

November 22, 2013

Carnival Crew Member Luggage Handling Injuries

Cruise Luggage Injury.jpgCarnival crew members, particularly assistant cabin stewards, have tremendously hard jobs. On embarkation days, their work duties include turning over mattresses, changing linens, hauling garbage and handling heavy luggage for several hundred passengers within a few short hours. Such an excessive work load has resulted in several back and shoulder injuries.

On embarkation days these crew members are required to frequently lift suitcases onto and from a trolley then into a luggage cage. The same procedure, but in reverse, is repeated for luggage of embarking passengers. A cruise ship like the CARNIVAL VICTORY carries 2,758 passengers. This behemoth hotel on the sea typically arrives in the turn-around port early in the day. Disembarking passengers are generally off the ship by 11:00 AM. Embarking passengers are generally all on board by 2:00 PM, latest 4:00 PM. The evening prior to arriving in port passengers are instructed to place all luggage, except carry-ons outside their cabins. In actual fact, Carnival does not enforce any real restrictions with respect to the number, size or weight of luggage being brought on board the vessel by passengers. It is also a known fact that some pieces of luggage could weigh as much as 100 lbs. Even assuming each bag did not exceed 50 lbs., the weight carried by assistant cabin stewards during the hours leading up to the vessel's arrival in port between passengers disembarking and embarking on the ship is staggering. For our purposes let's assume the 2,758 each bring along 2 weighing 50 pounds. This equals 275,800 pounds of luggage for just the disembarking passengers. Multiply this figure by the passengers coming onto the ship it equals 551,600 pounds these crew members must carry in a day!

This figure, however, does not account for the number of times each piece of luggage is actually lifted by the assistant cabin stewards. Each bag is minimally lifted once to be placed onto a smaller rolling luggage trolley, a second time to be placed into a larger luggage cage maneuvered by forklifts, a third time when luggage coming on board the vessel is removed from the luggage cages and placed on the smaller luggage trolleys, and a fourth time when the luggage is removed from the smaller luggage trolleys into a passenger's cabin. Therefore, assistant cabin stewards aboard the CARNIVAL VICTORY lift over several short hours 2,206,400 pounds of luggage on a typical disembarkation/ embarkation day in port.

While unloading and loading suitcases weighing anywhere from 40 to 110 lbs. many cabin stewards suffer back and shoulder injuries. Our cruise injury lawyers represent multiple assistant cabin stewards who were injured from the overly strenuous lifting activities associated with embarkation day. If you suffered an injury lifting luggage for Carnival, we would like to talk to you about your experience.

November 8, 2013

Punitive Damages Awardable to Injured Crew Members

Injured Crew Member.jpgThe United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently held crew members may seek punitive damages in personal injury claims if they can prove the ship owner's misconduct in causing a ship to become unseaworthy was willful, wanton or reckless. This decision is one of an emerging trend to provide injured maritime workers with a wide range of damages as well as to fashion a way to dissuade employers and ship owners from engaging in reckless conduct which is likely to result in injury.

Historical Background

Maritime law historically afforded ill and injured crewmembers only two causes of action against ship owners and employers. If a crewmember became ill or injured while in the service of the ship, the employer and the ship's owner owed him room and board ("maintenance") and medical care ("cure") without regard to fault, and, if not provided, the crewmember had a claim against them for "maintenance and cure." If a crewmember was injured by a ship's operational unfitness, the seaman had a cause of action for "unseaworthiness." Maritime law did not provide crewmembers with a separate cause of action for personal injury resulting from employer negligence, nor did it permit wrongful death or survival claims on behalf of seamen killed during the course of their employment. To remedy those gaps, Congress in 1920 enacted the Jones Act and the Death on the High Seas Act. Congress, however, specifically limited the damages available to those that would compensate the injured seaman for pain and suffering, lost wages and medical expenses. By limiting recovery to "Compensatory" damages, Congress precluded seamen injured by their employers' negligence or died on the high seas from seeking punitive damages.

Supreme Court.jpg

The Supreme Court's Landmark Decision

Courts interpreting Congress' intentions in passing the Jones Act and the Death on the High Seas Act for the most part concluded the decision to legislate into the area of maritime personal injury and wrongful death law damages foreclosed any right of a maritime worker to claim punitive damages in every available legal cause of action. This all changed in 2009 when the Supreme Court issued its landmark decision of Atlantic Sounding Co., Inc. v. Townsend finding a sick or injured seaman can seek punitive damages for the ship owner or employees willful and wanton failure to provide maintenance and cure. Supreme Court found punitive damages have historically been available in general maritime lawsuits before Congress passed the Jones Act. The Court reasoned Congress knew punitive damages were available in other seamen causes of action at the time of enacting the Jones Act and could have simply wrote into law that such damages are no longer available in any claim brought by a crew member. Since it did not, the Supreme Court found the Jones Act and Death on the High Seas Act does nothing to seamen's historical right to seek punitive damages against their employers for the failure to provide maintenance and cure.

Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals New Orleans.JPG

Townsend Expanded

Now that the Supreme Court decided punitive damages are available as part of maintenance and cure claims, courts were left to decide whether punitive damages were likewise available in other pre-Jones Act and Death on the High Seas Act maritime claims. The Fifth Circuit decided such an issue in McBride v. Estis Well Service. In that case one seaman was killed and three were injured when the derrick aboard the barge they were working aboard toppled over. The deceased seaman's estate and three surviving seamen sued their employer for negligence under the Jones Act and unseaworthiness of the barge under general maritime law. They also sought punitive damages against their employer under general maritime unseaworthiness claims. The employer / ship owner wanted to stipulate to liability and settle the claims, but the punitive damages claims prevented such settlement. The trial court was then asked to decide whether punitive damages were even available to crew members. The trial court decided such damages were not available. This order was appealed. The Fifth Circuit followed Townsend's reasoning and found like maintenance and cure: 1. unseaworthiness was an established maritime legal claim before Congress enacted the Jones Act; 2. injured crew members historically were able to pursue punitive damages under general maritime law; and, 3. the Jones Act fails to address the claim for unseaworthiness in its text or limit its historical remedies. As such, the Fifth Circuit concluded punitive damages are available to injured seamen post the Jones Act's enactment.

If you were injured while working aboard a ship and would like to discuss your legal rights, feel free to contract the Florida crew injury maritime lawyers of Brais Brais & Rusak for a free consultation.