We all read about the horrific conditions passengers were subjected to when the cruise ship named Triumph caught fire. The ship was days at sea without power, and sewage flowing all over the ship. For some reason it took several days to get the ship back to port, and all the passengers had to endure days of horrible conditions.
Carnival at first made a small offer to everyone, nothing close to what should be paid to compensate the passengers for what they were needlessly subjected to.
Following the disaster, and Carnival’s insulting offer, it was first reported Carnival didn’t want to reimburse the government for the expenses incurred in coming to the rescue, and towing the ship back to safety. Faced with adverse publicity, Carnival did an about face and agreed to reimburse the government for the expenses.
Now, faced with lawsuits arising out of the incident, and there being clear liability on the part of Carnival, Carnival is seeking to dismiss the lawsuits, arguing passengers agreed to no class actions and to arbitration. Of course, passengers do not really agree to any such thing. These are simply provisions put in a take it or leave it passenger ticket, which is considered a contract of passage containing binding terms and conditions, one of which is a prohibition against bringing a class action, and one of which is the passenger must submit certain claims to binding arbitration.
We have constantly urged these provisions are unfair, and slanted in favor of the cruise ship companies. These provisions are not bargained for. The provisions are designed to shield cruise ship companies like Carnival from liability.
Cruise ship companies enjoy way too many privileges and benefits under maritime law, many of which have been gained through lobbying Congress and getting favorable laws enacted.
With the recent trend of serious incidents involving cruise ships, we all have been alerted to the need for stricter laws governing cruise ship companies. Hopefully, Congress will act out of concern for the safety of our citizens, and not continue to act out of concern for their big financial donors, the cruise ship industry. Millions are spent by the cruise ship companies each year lobbying Congress for protection of the already existing favorable laws, and to seek passage of even more favorable laws designed to take away people’s rights.
Our firm will continue to be leaders in the fight against the cruise ship industry and assist those who are harmed at sea due to a cruise ship accident.