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gavel-300x200The Supreme Court of the United States has concluded that a seaman may not recover punitive damages for an unseaworthy condition on a vessel regardless of how egregious the conduct of the ship owner was in creating the condition.

In a crushing blow to the rights of seaman injured while working on a vessel, and to the family members of any seamen killed on a vessel, the Supreme Court of the United States decided to protect the interests of shipowners who often force seamen to work in in dangerous conditions despite their obligation to provide a safe work environment and seaworthy vessel.

bahamas-300x225I have often written about the problems with shore excursions during a cruise, and the dangers a passenger may face. The most recent bus crash that occurred in the Bahamas happened during a Carnival Cruise Line shore excursion. Four people were seriously injured during this bus accident, which involved a single vehicle incident, the bus itself flipping over. This has happened in previous cases we have handled and is typically a result of the unsafe practices and procedures the shore excursion companies are engaging in.

The crash involved thirty-two passengers from the Carnival Ecstasy ship. The bus was on an excursion in Eleuthera. According to news reports, Eleuthera Adventure Tours Limited operated the tour bus involved in the accident. Four passengers were airlifted to Florida for further treatment.


Yes, a corporation can be found guilty of a crime, not just an individual. Often times, while representing an individual in a case against the cruise ship company to recover for injuries suffered by a passenger or crew member, the cruise ship defense attorneys will ask if the plaintiff has ever been convicted of a felony. This evidence is relevant in the case because it has been determined that any felony convictions involving dishonesty are relevant to the credibility of the individual. In this instance, it is a corporation, Carnival Corporation, who is the convicted felon. Carnival was convicted in 2016 for environmental crimes on the Princess cruise ships under their umbrella and ended up paying $40 million as part of a guilty plea, plus they were placed on a 5 year probation. It was not the first conviction for Carnival Corporation for dumping oily waste into the ocean. It was actually the third conviction for the same crime of dumping oily waste into the ocean since 1998! Hard to believe, but true!

In the recent charges of violating its probation, Carnival Corporation reached a deal with prosecutors regarding the charges, which included dumping plastic into Bahamian waters and then falsifying records. Clearly acts involving dishonesty! In fact, federal court judge Patricia Seitz is so concerned with the violation of the probation and this continued conduct that she has required Carnival Corporation executives, including chairman Mickey Arison, as well as the president Arnold Donald, to appear before her on June 3rd. It will be interesting to see how the judge addresses this convicted felon who persists in this illegal conduct.


In yet another tragedy involving cruise ship passengers injured or killed while on a shore side excursion, it has been reported that two seaplanes, also known as floatplanes, crashed in a mid-air collision near Ketchikan, Alaska yesterday afternoon. There were a total of 16 people on board the two planes, ten having since been accounted for. At least four passengers were killed and the search is still ongoing for two others that are still missing.

The floatplanes were carrying cruise ship passengers from the Royal Princess cruise ship operated by Princess Cruises, which is based in Los Angeles, California. The Royal Princess cruise ship was visiting Ketchikan on its way from Vancouver, B.C. to Anchorage Alaska. Princess Cruises offers excursions with the floatplanes to its passengers which can be found on its website and in its promotional materials.


Many people do not know that Carnival Cruise Lines, the largest cruise ship company in the world, is actually a convicted felon. In 2016, the Miami-based Carnival Corporation, pled guilty to 7 felony charges in relation to an eight yearlong conspiracy of illegally dumping oil and covering up the illegal activity. Carnival paid a $40 million fine as a result, which was the largest ever criminal penalty assessed for the deliberate violation of vessel pollution laws. In addition to this fine, Carnival was placed on 5 years of probation.

Carnival, which reported a profit of $3.2 billion in the year 2018, has been found  to still have ships that are illegally discharging sewage, gray water, oil, and food waste in the year after they were convicted of illegal dumping and lying to authorities. The massive cruise line has also  been found to have burned heavy fuel oil imports and waters close to the shores around the world, which are all illegal.

As a maritime attorney who’s been handling catastrophic injuries and death cases since 1983, I have always been an advocate to overturn the archaic law referred to as the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA), which places severe limitations on the amount of money family members can receive when a loved one is killed on the high seas aboard a vessel, including cruise ships. There is simply no basis to restrict recovery in cases involving DOHSA aboard a ship.

A similar restriction applied in cases of airplane crashes resulting in deaths was amended by Congress to remove the pointless limitations on recovery involving airplane crash cases. However, Congress has always refused to do the same for Death on the High Seas cases involving ships, including cruise ships. It has been believed that the main reason is the strong lobbying efforts of the cruise ship industry, which is known to spend millions of dollars in lobbying and contributions each year. The Death on the High Seas Act is another example of favorable laws that the cruise ship companies enjoy that results in denying victims of personal injuries and deaths on cruise ships.

25-year-old Casey Holladay was on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, the Mariner of the Seas, enjoying time with his friends and girlfriend when, in an instant, the fun-filled vacation was tragically cut short.  Casey ended up at the Ryder Trauma Center in Miami, FL, undergoing major pelvic surgery, having sustained multiple pelvic fractures and a dislocated shoulder after falling over 20 feet to the deck of the cruise ship.  The injury occurred while he was suspended in the air in a bungee harness on board the cruise ship in a popular attraction called the Sky Pad. The Sky Pad is described by the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line in their literature as an “out-of-this-world bungee trampoline experience.” Continue reading ›

doctor-300x225A recent case involving  Holland America cruise line being sued by a passenger from Illinois illustrates how important it is that a passenger know what may happen if faced with a medical emergency during the cruise. The cruise ship companies often promote their medical facilities and medical staff on board their cruises as being of the highest standard. It has become a marketing tool for them, representing to the public that they have qualified emergency room doctors on board their ships to deal with medical emergencies, and medical supplies and facilities in compliance with standards of the American College of Emergency Physicians.  A passenger may get the false sense of security that the medical staff on board the cruise ship can adequately handle medical emergencies. Often times, the medical staff does have some background in emergency room medicine as required, but really are not specialists capable of properly diagnosing and treating true medical emergencies. Continue reading ›

A federal jury in the Southern District of Florida ruled in favor of Royal Caribbean in a Nebraska family’s lawsuit alleging negligence that resulted in a passenger falling overboard to his death. The jury also denied the family’s claim of negligence on behalf of the cruise ship company when they failed to promptly initiate an adequate search and rescue for the overboard passenger.

gavel-300x200In addition, family members of the deceased passenger filed for false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress when they were allegedly wrongfully detained in their cabin by a security guard posted at the cabin door.  Both of these claims were also rejected by the jury, resulting in a complete victory for the cruise ship company, in this case Royal Caribbean International.

Over-Service of Alcohol Continues to Contribute to Cruise Ship Accidents 

We have repeatedly written about the ongoing safety issues present onboard cruise ships due to the over serving of alcohol and inadequate security presence. The cruise ships provide unlimited alcoholic drinks to passengers, which results in excessive consumption of alcohol during cruises. An intoxicated passenger becomes a danger not only to him or herself, but to others on board the ship. Many of the reported sexual assaults and crimes happening on board cruise ships have been related to the over serving of alcohol.

Continue reading ›

waves-300x225There has been another report of a possible murder on board a cruise ship, this time involving a 52-year-old American woman onboard the Royal Princess, a Princess Cruise, headed for the Caribbean. According to news reports, the woman plummeted from an upper deck of the ship onto a lifeboat.  Witnesses had seen the woman struggling with another man right before this happened. This is not the first report of a murder onboard a cruise ship. In fact, earlier this year, a passenger was arrested for murdering his girlfriend aboard the Carnival ElationContinue reading ›