The Source for Maritime Legal Information

A 5-year-old boy nearly drowned in a South Florida Apartment Complex pool.  The incident happened on April 14th at a new apartment complex on Paseo Boulevard in downtown Doral, a city within Miami-Dade County.  Paramedics responded and found the child in full cardiac arrest. Lt. Felipe Lay of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue said that when they arrived a person had already performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on the boy.  First responders, however, had to revive the child from unconsciousness.  The boy was transported him to Palmetto General Hospital for further care.  The police are investigating the incident.

Coast-Guard-Assists-in-Medical-Evacuation-of-71-year-old-Woman-off-Carnival-Ecstasy-300x200A 71-year-old woman slipped onboard the Carnival Ecstasy sustaining a head injury that required her to be medevaced.  The U.S. Coast Guard deployed a helicopter to assist in her medical evacuation.  The vessel was 75 miles off the Florida coast at the time and on its return to its home port of Charleston.

The passenger and an onboard nurse are reported to have been hoisted on to the hilicopter and were flown to a Florida hospital.  A passenger of the Carnival Ecstasy is recovering after suffering a head injury during the ship’s return to its home port of Charleston.

Copyright 2017 WCSC.

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.

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Photo: Facebook

Reco Scott a 32-year-old man from Decatur, Georgia on board the Carnival Liberty cruise ship while on his honeymoon is missing.  Mr. Scott married Angelijica Scott last Saturday before boarding the Carnival Liberty in Port Canaveral.  According to Carnival’s spokeswoman Jennifer De La Cruz, Mr. Scott “was observed jumping from a cabin balcony about at around 4:53 a.m. on Friday.   The ship was approximately 10 miles northwest of the Berry Islands in the Bahamas at the time of the incident.  The cruise ship was turned around and crew members launched a search of the boat.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard 7th District, a Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater MH-60 Jayhawck helicopter crew deployed to Great Iguana, Bahamas.  The Coast Guard Cutter Charles David Jr., Coast Guard Air Station Miami HC-144 Ocean Sentry airplane crews, the Carnival Liberty cruise ship and the Norwegian Jade cruise ship assisted with the search which lasted 29 hours and covered 1,064 miles.  The Coast Guard suspended its search on Saturday at about 6:00 p.m. extending its thoughts and prayers to the family and friends of Mr. Scott.

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A 26-foot boat sank with six men on board during a night fishing trip two miles off the coast of Fort Lauderdale Wednesday night.   A man on a charter fishing boat spotted something in the water and heard a man call out for help.  The man called the U.S. Coast Guard Station Fort Lauderdale via an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast.  The U.S. Coast Guard arrived on the scene with Broward County Sheriff’s Office at approximately 10:00 p.m.  By the time rescuers arrived four men had already been pulled from the water.

With the help of the BSO’s helicopter, the U.S. Coast Guard was able to rescue the other two men in the water.  One of the men was found unresponsive when he was pulled out of the water and CPR efforts were started immediately.  Unfortunately, the man was later pronounced dead at Broward Health Medical Center upon arrival.  The other five men who were rescued were also taken to Broward Health and are expected to make a full recovery.

It is unknown what caused the boat to sink but according to news sources the vessel vanished quickly beneath the waves, leaving the men adrift and treading water for about half an hour in waters approximately 70 feet deep.

14-Year-Old-Boy-Airlifted-Jet-Ski-Accident-300x17014-year-old Brendan Gil along with his father, Alan Gil and his older brother Ethan Gil were participating on a guided jet ski tour near the Caladesi Island State Park on March 30 while on visiting from Lafayette, Colorado.  According to investigators of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, Alan Gil made several rapid turns while operating his watercraft and turned into the path of his elder’s son watercraft colliding with the jet ski operated by his older son and on which Brendan was riding.   The collision resulted in all three individuals being thrown from the jet skis.  Brendan sustained serious, but not life-threatening injuries and was airlifted to Bayfront Health Hospital.  The accident is still under investigation and alcohol is not believed to be a factor.

Florida law regulates liveries and provides in part that “a livery may not knowingly lease, hire, or rent a personal watercraft to any person who has not received instructions in the safe handling of personal watercraft, in compliance with rules established by the commission pursuant to chapter 120.”  Those rules require instruction about the local characteristics of the waterway where the vessel will be operated” and/or “awareness of changes in weather or water conditions and proper responses to those changes” to name a few.

It is our experience that many accidents involving jet skis are the result of a lack of instructions and/or improper instructions being given by rental companies and tour guides to inexperienced operators.  In cases where we can prove that the statute regulating liveries and the rules promulgated thereunder have been violated we may be successful in establishing that the livery was negligent per se.

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Search-For-Missing-Man-Overboard-Carnival-Victory-Continues-300x200The U.S. Coast Guard and Cuban search and rescue authorities are searching for a missing 23-year-old man who went overboard the Carnival Victory cruise ship 33 miles northwest of Pinar Del Rio, Cuba.  Brandon Paul is the Floral City, Florida resident who is reported to have gone overboard the cruise ship from the eighth deck yesterday at approximately 3 a.m.  The ship was sailing from Key West, Florida to Cozumel, Mexico on a four-day cruise.

Carnival is reported to have launched a search boat and contacted the Seventh Coast Guard District Command Center, which directed a search plan and cutter to the area.  As of six in the evening the search continued without success.

The Carnival Victory is a thirteen-deck cruise ship and the eighth deck, from which Mr. Paul fell contains passenger cabins, most of which have balconies.

Bodies-of-Men-Missing-Found-in-Florida-waters-300x169Jie Luo, a 21-year-old Colorado State student went missing March 14 after he and four others decided to go swimming jumping off a chartered yacht.  Luo and the four other swimmers were part of a group of 16 college students sailing on a charter boat in the Pass-A-Grille channel near the Gulf of Mexico while on spring break.  Due to a strong current and strong winds, Luo could not get back on the boat and the boat’s first mate, Andrew Dillman, 27-years-old, jumped in the water attempting to rescue Luo while the charter captain assisted the four other swimmers.

Unfortunately, both men were swept away by the current and went missing.  Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office searched for the missing men for days until calling off the search on March 19.  Shortly after, boaters found the men’s bodies south of where they originally went missing. Dillman’s body was found March 20 and Luo’s March 22.  We extend our sincere condolences to their families and loved ones.

cruise-excursion-dunns-river-falls-jamacia-300x225This case concerns a passenger who participated in a seven-day cruise aboard the Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas cruise ship.  The passenger booked a shore excursion through Royal Caribbean to Dunn’s River Falls while the ship called on Jamaica.  The local guide was employed by the excursion company told the passengers to hold hands while ascending the falls. Unfortunately, the passenger slipped and fell when a girl whose hand he was holding slipped.  The fall resulted in the passenger fracturing his leg and sustaining other injuries.

The passenger filed a lawsuit in the Southern District of Florida alleging that he was instructed by the tour guides at Dunn’s River Falls to hold hands with the other hikers and that he fell because the girl whose hand he was holding slipped. He claimed that Royal Caribbean was liable for the accident because  the cruise line either knew about or should have reasonably foreseen the danger associated with having passengers hold hands as they climbed Dunn’s River Falls and should have warned him about this danger.

In response to the passenger’s claim, Royal Caribbean filed a motion requesting that the Court dismiss the lawsuit arguing that: (1) the dangers associated with Dunn’s River Falls are open and obvious; (2)  there is no evidence that the practice of handholding caused fall; and (3) even if handholding caused the fall, there is no evidence that the cruise line knew or should have known that handholding was a dangerous practice. The passenger countered Royal Caribbean’s motion by pointing to evidence that the cause of his fall was a result of the handholding policy and submitted affidavits showing the cruise line’s employees knew the handholding policy posed a danger to its passengers.

Cruise-Arbitration-Agreement-300x200The major cruise lines insert a provision into their crewmember employment contracts requiring any dispute between them and their seamen employees, including personal injury claims, to resolved at arbitration. Often times these employment contracts require the arbitration to occur outside the United States and to apply foreign law. This means that if a crewmember is injured on the job, he or she will have to bring an arbitration claim in a myriad of foreign locations, but not in the United States and not under United States law. The reason cruise lines are forcing their crewmembers to foreign arbitration is because it is more likely that the arbitrators, who are compensated by the cruise lines, will favor the cruise lines position and will be reluctant to give the injured seamen high money awards.

A treaty called the New York Convention on the Enforcement of Foreign Arbitration Awards allows the cruise lines to compel personal injury claims to arbitration where there is a written agreement to arbitration between citizens of two different countries or where the contract contemplates foreign performance. However, after the parties arbitrate, the treaty provides that a court of competent jurisdiction can review the arbitration award and vacate or find it unenforceable on various grounds including public policy.

A recent case filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida challenges such an arbitration award. In that case, the crewmember brought a claim against a cruise line for an injury sustained by the medical malpractice of the doctor selected by the cruise line to fulfill its obligation to provide medical care to the seaman. The employment contract required the seaman to arbitrate his claim in Monaco under Panamanian law. The arbitration went forward in Monaco and the seaman’s claim was dismissed under Panamanian law. The crewmember filed an action in the Southern District of Florida asking the Federal Court to vacate or, alternatively, refuse to recognize the award the arbitration award.