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Injured_Fisherman_ClaimA Federal court recently found determined that a jury is to resolve an injured fisherman Jones Act negligence and unseaworthiness claims .

Facts of the Case

This case involves a personal injury sustained by a professional fisherman aboard a vessel engaged in scalloping.  When fishing for scallops, the vessel the fishermen worked aboard drags along the sea floor two dredges, one on the starboard side and one on the port side.  Every hour, the dredges are winched up and their contents (which includes scallops, bycatch, rocks, and other debris) are dumped on the aft deck in what is known as “the pile.” The dredges are then lowered back to the seafloor, and the crew uses the next hour to pick the scallops out of the pile, deposit them in the shucking house, and return the rocks and bycatch to the sea.  Although the vessel has a non-skid surface on some of the deck, there is an area of the stern deck where the dredges and chain bags are regularly landed that does not. According to the defendants, that is due to the heavy abuse that part of the deck takes, which would cause the coating to wear off in a matter of days.

jetskichannelmarker-300x203A 19-year-old young woman, identified as Sarah Flanagan of League City, Texas was killed when the personal watercraft she was operating on Choctawhatchee Bay was struck by a 30-foot boat operated by 76-year-old Johnny Pope of Shalimar, Florida.

Per news reports, Flanagan was visiting Destin, Florida from Texas and had rented the personal watercraft she was operating.  At the time the accident occurred, she was riding with a group of people.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s initial report, the two vessels collided at a 90-degree angle and upon impact, Flanagan was thrown from the watercraft. A person accompanying Flanagan jumped in the water, pulled her onto his personal watercraft and took her to a nearby marina where he met EMS.  Flanagan suffered extensive head injuries and was pronounced dead at Fort Walton Beach Medical Center.  At this time the report does not indicate who was at fault.  Per FWC, there were no signs of impairment in either operator.

Picture by WPTV
The Florida Fish and Wild Life Commission are investigating the death of a male diver that occurred Tuesday early afternoon in North Palm Beach.  Per reports, Luis Alberto Gorgonio-Ixba was working on a 164-foot Westport yacht docked at Old Port Cove Marina cleaning the vessel’s hull when a forward thruster was turned on pulling him face-first when the propellers were engaged. Details of the accident are not yet known and investigators are in the process of gathering witnesses statements.  At this time, Mr. Gorgonio-Ixba’s death has been ruled an accident but the investigation is still underway.

According to an anonymous caller who contacted the Palm Beach Post, she saw Coast Guard boats and other emergency workers rushing to the scene.  Then a man dove into the water and came up a few minutes later yelling”I’ve got him, I’ve got him.”

Mr. Gorgonio-Ixba was a resident of West Palm Beach and was originally from Mexico.  He is survived by two young daughters.  We extend our deepest sympathies to Mr. Gorgonio-Ixba’s family and loved ones.

Rivero-19-Killed-in-Boating-Accident-300x199Chance Rivero, a 19-year-old Vero Beach resident was killed Saturday night when the boat he was a passenger of hit a channel marker, ejecting him from it and into the water.  Per the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation the boat, the 17-foot Carolina Skiff was carrying six people on board, heading north in the Indian River Lagoon, when it struck an Intracoastal Waterway channel marker a mile south of the Alma Lee Loy Bridge.  After the impact, Rivero was thrown into the water and the boat was able to turn around and pull him out of the lagoon.  Michael Ketcham, 20, was also injured in the mishap sustaining lacerations on his spleen and other potential internal injuries.  Although the accident is still under investigation, it appears to be alcohol related.  We extend our deepest condolences to Rivero’s family and loved ones and wish Ketcham a speedy recovery.

 

The Carnival Sensation, a 855 foot cruise ship, returned to the Port of Miami Sunday Morning after a passenger fell ill.  The ship started its voyage the day before was approximately 90 miles from port when a crewmember alerted the Coast Guard and Miami-Dade Fire Result of the medical emergency.   The Sensation arrived near the Port of Miami where the passenger and two family members attempted to disembarked onto a rescue boat.  However, the sea conditions where too rough in open waters.  The cruise she then entered Government Cut, where the transfer took place in calmer waters.  After the passenger disembarked, the cruise ship returned to its scheduled voyage. There has been no update on the passenger’s condition.

Media has reported two separate medevac situations involving the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Grandeur of the Seas occurring over a two week period.  The first incident occurred on March 29th and involved a 70-year-old male passenger who experienced abdominal pains.  Upon reporting the incident to the Coast Guard, a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter along with a C-130 aircraft departed from Air Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina.  The air team met the cruise ship approximately 150 miles Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.  The passenger was hoisted onto the helicopter then taken to New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, NC.

The second incident occurred on April 8th.  This time an 80-year-old male passenger collapsed while the cruise ship was near the Maryland coast.  Coast Guard Station Annapolis launched a 45 foot cutter to intercept the cruise ship.  The passenger, his family and ship medical personnel boarded the rescue boat and were transferred to the Coast Guard Station where emergency response crews were waiting.  Upon arriving ashore, the man was transferred to Anne Arundel Medical Center.  Maryland State Police assisted in the rescue.

Launched in 1996, the Grandeur of the Seas is 915-foot cruise ship which has the capacity of carrying 2,446 passengers and 760 crew.  The cruise ship is conducting regular cruises from Baltimore, Maryland.  The current status of the two passengers are unknown at this time.

Crusie_Passenger_Falls_From_Balcony-300x169A Southern District of Florida judge has recently allowed a case concerning the death of a Carnival Cruise passenger to proceed to the jury.  This case involves couple who were passengers onboard the Carnival Dream.  The cruise was a round trip Mexican voyage leaving from and returning to New Orleans, Louisiana.  On the day in question, the couple were served 22 alcoholic beverages by the cruise line over the course of twelve hours.  Most of the drinks were Long Island Iced Teas which contained high amounts of alcohol.  The couple attended dinner where the husband was inebriated but did not slur his words or stumble.  After dinner the couple went to the ship’s casino.  At the casino bar, the husband fell off the bar stool.  About an hour after the fall in the casino bar, the couple bought a final round of drinks.  The decision was made to go to the ship’s nightclub.  The wife went into the club while the husband stayed behind to finish a cigarette.  He never arrived at the club.  He, instead, went back to the stateroom.  At about 1:00 a.m., the husband fell off the cabin’s balcony onto a deck below.  He died from his injuries.

The wife, as the personal representative of her husband’s estate, brought a negligence claim against Carnival Cruise Lines for its part in overserving alcoholic drinks which allegedly was the proximate cause of his death.  The cruise line filed a motion for summary judgment asking the court to find as a matter of law that it was not negligent.  Under maritime law, a cruise line owes its passengers the duty of reasonable care for their safety and well being.  As part of this legal duty cruise lines must take reasonable steps to protect an intoxicated passenger from danger.  Cases addressing this legal duty require a showing that the cruise line should have been aware that the passenger was subject to an impending danger from the over-service of alcohol.  As such, the behavior exhibited by the intoxicated passenger is relevant to whether a jury could find the cruise line was on notice.

The issue addressed in the motion is whether the husband’s actions leading up to his death placed Carnival on notice that he was at risk of falling off a cabin balcony.  The wife argued that Carnival’s drink servers and bartenders training requires them to observe behavioral sings of intoxication which should have alerted the cruise line to the husband’s intoxication.  The wife also testified at deposition that her husband showed visible signs of intoxication which included falling off a barstool.  The cruise line pointed to the facts that the husband did not slur his words at dinner and disputed the reason for him falling off the stool.

Knorr-Overboard-MSC-Divina-300x193Authorities are reporting a 74-year-old passenger on-board MSC Divina is missing and presumed overboard.  The man’s disappearance comes just days after a 22-year-old man and a 74-year-old woman went overboard the Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas and the Queen Mary 2, respectively.

According to reports, Mr. Jeon Pierre Knorr, a French citizen traveling with his wife stepped onto the room’s balcony for some fresh air at approximately 3:00 a.m. on Monday and did not return. When his wife got up several hours later, she realized he had not returned and reported him missing.

The circumstances of his fall, however, remain unknown.  Cruise ship officials searched the entire cruise ship and made callouts through the public announcement system with no success.

Passenger Overboard Asian Based Cruise ShipA 60-year-old Singaporean male passenger on-board the SuperStar Gemini cruise ship is missing after falling overboard near Babi Besar Island, located off the Malaysian south-east coast.  Mr. Wuan Poh Fatt was traveling from Singapore to Penang with five others.  According to on-board closed-circuit camera footage, Mr. Wuan fell overboard on Sunday, November 27, 2016 at 11:05 p.m. However, it was not discovered that he was missing until the next day when he failed to respond to announcements.  After a headcount confirmed he was missing, the ship’s Captain contacted Malaysian authorities who began a search of the area. According to the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, search and rescue operations are ongoing.

The SuperStar Gemini is a 1,750 passenger cruise ship operated by Star Cruises, an Asian based cruise line.  In October 2015, reports surfaced of a 30-year-old Indian national man who disappeared from the SuperStar Gemini while traveling in the Strait of Malacca. The man was traveling with his extended family and they too did not realize he was missing until the next day.  The cruise line claimed the man had committed suicide but the family strongly disputed that allegation instead suggesting he had been the victim of foul play due to a fight he had with one of the ship’s officers.

On average there are 20-30 overboard incidents each year.  Although technology exits to alert cruise ships of a passengers falling overboard, not all cruise lines make use of the technology.  Additionally, despite heavily promoting alcohol use, cruise ships often have minimal security personnel guarding the ship.

Capsized-boat-Bermuda-July-20-2016-2.jpgDuring a routine safety training drill in Bermuda four crew members of the Norwegian Breakaway were injured when the rescue boat they were lowering into the water as part of the drill broke from its tethering and was left hanging by a wire. The four men fell into the water and sustained injuries. The men were treated by ship’s medical staff and transferred to a local hospital, where one of the men passed away.

Authorities are investigating the incident. The ship is expected to depart Bermuda as scheduled and return to New York on July 24.

We extend our sincere condolences to the crew members’ families and wish the three injured seamen a speedy recovery.