Articles Tagged with Florida cruise ship accident attorneys

When you are on a cruise, you are often miles out into the ocean, far away from land. While on the cruise you may be engaging in extreme sports, eating foods you aren’t used to eating, walking on rocking floors, and being in close contact with thousands of other passengers in a closed environment. With the chances of injury or illness being high, you would think that ships were equipped with medical facilities and personnel that were prepared to deal with any kind of medical emergency. Think again.

Medical Facilities on Cruises

In fact, there is little regulation about what kind of medical facilities must be on board, and medical personnel may be licensed in countries that are not as stringent as the licensure requirements in the U.S.

Earlier this month, Florida Today published a story discussing the recent arrest of a Disney Cruise Line crew member who has been charged with two counts of lewd or lascivious molestation and one count of false imprisonment of a 13-year-old female cruise passenger. Our cruise ship lawyers  have been watching this case closely for additional details to emerge. Under federal maritime law, cruise ship companies are subject to strict liability claims for rape, sexual assault and any crime committed by their employees. In other words, cruise ship companies are legally responsible for the criminal acts of their crew members.

Details of this latest crime is still emerging. However, Canaveral Port Authority Police were notified of the allegations shortly after Disney’s Dream cruise ship docked at the terminal following a four-day journey to the Bahamas. Police arrested 36-year-old Ahmed Sofyan, a resident of Jakarta, Indonesia.

According to police, Sofyan lured the minor into an unoccupied cabin and touched her inappropriately. During the encounter, the victim attempted to escape, and even asked to leave several times, but Sofyan wouldn’t let her leave. Sofyan ultimately let the girl go, and when confronted by police, admitted that he knew his conduct was wrong and that the girl was only 13 years old.

Earlier this month, our Florida cruise ship accident lawyers saw a report on ABC News that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has launched an investigation into an incident aboard a cruise ship which left one child dead and another hospitalized.

According to spokesman David Couvertier, FBI officials met Norwegian Cruise Lines Breakaway when it docked in Port Canaveral, Florida on February 4. Couvertier stated that the Breakaway was in international waters near Cape Lookout, North Carolina when a four and six year old boy were pulled from a swimming pool aboard the ship. The four-year-old boy died and the six-year old has been hospitalized at a North Carolina medical center.

The Breakaway is an 18-deck ship with a passenger capacity of 4,000 and has five waterslides, two swimming pools, and four hot tubs. According to a passenger, quoted in a CBS article, that witnessed the incident, there were no lifeguards on the pool deck and none of the crew present knew CPR. In a posting on its Facebook page, Norwegian maintained that the Breakaway’s emergency medical team responded to the ship’s pool deck and quickly administered CPR. The post claimed, “After extensive efforts, the younger child could not be revived.”

Early this morning, British news outlet Gazette Live, reported that an elderly couple from Teeside, England, had been violently assaulted by a fellow passenger, whilst cruising on Thomson Cruises Thomson Celebration in January. According to the report, the woman suffered “serious spinal injuries,” while her husband incurred “serious facial injuries,” both requiring treatment at a hospital. Apparently, the couple’s attacker was permitted to leave the cruise shortly after the incident, and the cruise line did nothing to detain him. Cleveland, England Police are investigating what they are referring to as a “serious unprovoked assault”, but have not yet made an arrest.

As our Florida cruise ship accident attorneys have discussed before, preventing and controlling crime on board ships is one of the biggest problems that the cruise ship industry faces. Every year, dozens of cruise ship passengers fall victim to physical and sexual assaults onboard cruise ships at the hands of crew members and other passengers.

Back in December, this blog discussed an assault on a 14-year-old passenger aboard Carnival Cruise Line’s Imagination by a security guard. According to the victim of the alleged assault, the guard chased him into a stairwell and slammed him into a wall after witnessing the teen try to sneak into the ship’s nightclub. In July of last year, a 19-year-old man from Kentucky was charged with raping an 18-year-old aboard the Carnival Dream. These are just a couple of the dozens of crimes that are committed against cruise passengers each year.

Wednesday, Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas arrived back in a New Jersey port after passengers suffered one of the largest gastrointestinal illness outbreaks on a cruise ship in 20 years.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) officially issued a cruise ship illness outbreak alert for the ship, on which  630 of 3,071 passengers (20.5 percent), and 54 of 1,166 crew (4.6 percent), reported falling ill with symptoms of vomiting and/or diarrhea. The CDC still has not officially announced the cause of the illness, but our Florida maritime accident attorneys are waiting with anticipation for a discovery.

According to the CDC, one of its Vessel Sanitation Program epidemiologists and environmental health officers, along with another independent epidemiologist, boarded the ship while it was in port at St. Thomas, and travelled with the ship back to port in New Jersey. The CDC team conducted an investigation and environmental health assessment in an attempt to determine the cause and origin of the outbreak. The CDC team is supposed to continue the investigation through the boarding of new passengers for the ship’s next voyage slated to begin tomorrow.

Our Florida cruise ship accident attorneys use this blog to discuss the rights of cruise ship passengers in the event they are injured by the acts or omissions of the cruise ship industry and its employees.

But what happens when one of those employees becomes injured due to the negligence of a cruise company? Working as a crew member aboard a cruise ship can be a particularly risk job, as cruise crew are consistently exposed to dangerous situations and conditions that can cause serious injury, illness, or death.

In 1920, Congress adopted Section 27 of the Merchant Marine Act, referred to as the “Jones Act”, as a means of protecting the rights of crew members and maritime workers that fall under the legal definition of “seamen.” The Jones Act allows a seaman, that is injured as the result of the negligence of an employer or co-worker in the course of his or employment on a vessel, to recover for those injuries.

In July of 2010, Congress passed the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (“CVSSA), legislation designed to improve the security and safety of passengers aboard cruise ships carrying more than 250 passengers on a voyage embarking or disembarking from any U.S. ports. Adoption of the CVSSA was spurred by findings by Congress that “passengers on cruise vessels have an inadequate appreciation of their potential vulnerability to crime while on ocean voyages, and…lack the information they need to understand their legal rights or to know whom to contact for help in the immediate aftermath of the crime.” Our Florida cruise ship accident attorneys have been viewing the details of this closely.

In order to achieve its goals, the CVSSA required cruise lines to adopt a number of safety measures, including security peepholes on passenger cabin doors, security cameras, higher guardrails, and the distribution of safety information to passengers.

Despite these requirements, it would appear that, according to a recent report by the Government Accountability Office (“GAO”), the cruise industry is largely ignoring four important requirements of the CVSSA:

Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) issued a cruise ship illness outbreak alert for the Norwegian Gem, an over 3,600-passenger capacity ship in the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet.  According to the alert, during a November 13-25, 2013, voyage, 111 passengers and 3 crew members (4.55% of the total number of people onboard) reported being ill with symptoms of vomiting and/or diarrhea. The cause of the outbreak is unknown, but our Florida maritime accident attorneys are waiting with anticipation for a discovery.

The report states that Norwegian Cruise Line responded to the outbreak by increasing the ship’s cleaning and disinfecting procedures and collecting specimens from ill passengers and crew for testing at the CDC’s National Calicivirus Laboratory. According to the CDC, Vessel Sanitation Program officers are monitoring the outbreak, which will continue into the ship’s subsequent voyage.

The CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program (“VSP”) is designed to assist the cruise ship industry in preventing and controlling introduction, transmission, and spread of gastrointestinal illnesses, i.e. food poisoning, on cruise ships.  Despite the CDC’s best efforts, however, health violations are common occurrences on many cruise ships.  Improper storage, handling, and preparation of food onboard cruise ships is dangerous and can easily result in the spread of gastrointestinal illness.  Gastrointestinal illnesses can cause vomiting, dizziness, diarrhea, dehydration, and, in very serious cases, death.

According to two recent reports ready by our Florida cruise ship accident attorneys from both CNN and the Associated Press, Carnival knew that its now infamous Triumph ship posed a substantial risk of fire due to delays in the maintenance of its diesel engines and fuel lines, but allowed the ship to set sail anyway. More than 4,000 passengers and crew members became stranded aboard the Triumph in February of 2013 after a fire knocked out the ship’s power.  The ship drifted for four days without air conditioning, and only had limited lights, water, food and working toilets, before it was towed to Mobile, Alabama.

According to the AP article, Triumph’s captain, Angelo Los, admitted in a November 22nd, 2013, deposition that he had been notified by Carnival that there had been problems with the ships flexible fuel hoses leaking.  Los stated that he believed Carnival had known about the leaks since March of 2012.  When confronted with a “compliance notice report” dated January 2nd, 2013, that recommended that spray shields be installed on engines’ flexible fuel hoses, Los confesses that the suggested spray guards were only a makeshift measure to deal with leaking fuel lines and had not even been installed on the engine that caught fire.

In response to the allegations that it was aware of the Triumph’s safety issues, Carnival   stated, “The leak in the flexible fuel hose was a completely unexpected accident that took place. What ignited the fuel is unknown.”  Carnival referred to the spray guards as the “best practice to avoid fires.” Carnival also claimed that the compliance notice only referenced fuel lines above the engine room floor, whereas the leak that disabled the Triumph occurred on a fuel hose beneath the engine room floor.

Last month, our Florida cruise ship accident attorneys discussed some of the negative aspects of the ever-increasing size of cruise ships, including the fact that such megaships, by their very nature, have many more areas in which a passenger can become injured.  As mentioned in that post, with more entertainment venues comes a greater risk of injury to passengers, especially when cruises feature options such as on-board surfing and giant waterslides.  Some ships have several gigantic pools that too often go unsupervised by lifeguards.

One of the megaships that features such water entertainment options is the Carnival ship Victory, which is 893 feet long and has a capacity for 3,400 passengers and 1,000 crew members. The Victory has three large pools, all that include whirlpools, and a 214-foot-long waterslide. With such a massive amount of space to be supervised, it is no surprise that tragedy struck the Victory when 6-year-old Qwentyn Hunter of Winter Garden, Florida, drowned in one of the pools aboard the ship where no life guards were on duty.

According to a recent CNN story, Hunter was spotted underwater in a mid-ship pool by passengers as the ship was completing the final leg of a four-day journey. A ship DJ saw Hunter struggling in the water and another passenger guest then jumped into the pool to pull the boy out.  A crew member attempted to revive the unconscious boy, but was unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead shortly after.

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