We previously reported about another instance of a major cruise line absolutely disregarding the law, and attempting to cover up their intentional violation of international laws involving contaminating the waterways. This past Wednesday, a United States District Judge sentenced Princess Cruise Lines, owned by Carnival Cruise Lines, to pay $40 million dollars in penalties, which is the largest penalty ever imposed for crimes involving deliberate pollution by a vessel of the waterways. Princess Cruise Lines, as other major cruise lines have in the past, was found to have illegally dumped overboard oil contaminated waste, and then attempted to cover up the violations by falsifying official records.
As I have stated before, intentionally disregarding the law, and lying to authorities in order to cover up the violations, is not a first to the cruise ship industry. In the past, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian Cruise Line pled guilty to felony charges of also illegally polluting the waterways and falsifying official records to cover up the violations of the laws. In this most recent example of another major cruise line disregarding the law and lying to authorities, U.S. District Judge also ordered that $1 million be paid to the British engineer aboard the Princess Cruise ship who first exposed the illegal dumping of waste into the waterways. He initially reported the illegality to the British maritime and Coast Guard Agency, who then provided the evidence to the United States Coast Guard.
Princess cruise lines reached an agreement last December to pled guilty to the seven felony charges stemming from illegally dumping oil contaminated waste at sea and then intentionally covering up the violations. Thus, Princess is another cruise line with felony convictions, making it a felon. As I have said before, if an individual testifies in a court of law, a prior felony conviction involving dishonestly may be used to attack the witnesses’ credibility. I see no reason why these felony convictions of the major cruise ship companies should not be admissible in a court of law to attack the credibility of the cruise ship companies when they come into court and make representations as to how safe their cruise ship is, and testify about their safety records. How can we trust that the representations made by the cruise ship companies, who are convicted felons, are indeed truthful?
We have warned that the public should not take as necessarily true representations made from cruise ship companies regarding the safety of their vessels. In fact, recent legislation, the Cruise Ship Vessel Safety and Security Act, and recent legislation being proposed at this time, the Cruise Passenger Protection Act, is legislation that is designed to require more truthful disclosures on the part of the cruise ship industry to the public can be more aware of safety issues aboard cruise ships. Public awareness of these type of issues occurring onboard cruise ships is critical to the public making informed decisions regarding their travel plans.
Our firm recently has been hired by the family of Drs. Larry and Christy Hammer, who tragically died in a fire in their cabin aboard a river boat during an Amazon River cruise. The American company touted the vessel as complying and exceeding safety regulations, being a state of the art ship, leading the public to believe the ship was safe to sail on. The Hammers’ death, as reported by the Peruvian Navy in their findings of fact following the investigation of the fire, revealed that there were false representations made regarding the safety aspects of that cruise. Again, just because the companies are making representations regarding the safety aspects of the ship and representing that there are safety records, does not mean the information has been verified by any independent agencies. The public must act accordingly.
The British engineer will receive $1 million dollars for exposing the illegal activities of the cruise ship company. This is a very useful law which does provide compensation to whistleblowers for violations of certain laws, including laws involving polluting the waterways. This law is very important because it encourages someone like this British engineer to expose a cruise ship company that decided to intentionally and deliberately disregard the law, and intentionally act to cover up the violations. We applaud this man, and his well-deserved compensation, which resulted in penalties against this corporation of $40 million, and hopefully a warning to the company and other cruise ship companies not to engage in similar conduct in the future.