Carnival Cruises’ attempt to prohibit an injured American crewmember from bringing a lawsuit under United States law and having a jury decide his case has been defeated by the Brais Law maritime lawyers.
Over the past few years, Carnival and other cruise lines have been taking advantage of an obscure law called the United Nations Convention on the Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards. This treaty allows companies in certain situations to avoid jury trials of personal injury claims brought by their employees’ by burying arbitration / choice of law clauses in employment contracts. Cruise lines had great success in convincing courts to apply this international treaty to personal injury claims of Non-American crewmembers. Enforcement of these arbitration / choice of law clauses resulted in hundreds of crewmembers being compelled to arbitrate their claims before an arbitrator(s) under foreign law instead of having a jury decide their rights in a court of law under United States law. This is a big victory for the cruise lines as they can now avoid United States law which favors seafarers and avoid potential high jury awards even though the cruise lines are headquartered in the United States, operate their ships from United States ports and market to United States citizens. Amazingly cruise lines stand alone in being able to take advantage of this legal loophole as other domestic vacation resorts and hotels must follow United States labor laws.