For the past six years, cruise lines such as Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Norwegian (NCL) have attempted to require their crewmembers who get hurt on the job to forgo the right to jury trial and compel them to have arbitrators decide what compensation they deserve. Most times the cruise lines bury this jury trial waiver / arbitration provision in the employment contract’s fine print. Worst still, cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean and Celebrity, have language in the employment contracts that references the terms of collective bargaining agreement are incorporated into the employment agreement. The problem is the seamen have no representation in the “union” who negotiated the collective bargaining agreement and are often not given a copy of the collective bargaining agreement. As such, many seafarers have no idea they are waiving their jury trial rights.
The purpose of this article is to provide a brief summary on the cruise lines’ efforts in compelling crewmember personal injury claim to arbitration and the recent order obtained by Brais & Brais remanding a seafarer’s case to a Miami, Florida State court for jury trial.