Cruise Lawyers To Senator Rockefeller: Overworked Cruise Employees Denied
U.S. Court Protection Cause More Accidents, Endanger American Consumers
MIAMI -- April 11, 2013
Cruise ship lawyers Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. weighed-in
this week on concerns raised by Senator John Rockefeller IV in his letter to
Carnival Corporation CEO Mickey Arison. Last month, Rockefeller wrote a very
publicized letter to Arison, following an engine room fire aboard the Carnival
Triumph. That incident resulted in a complete loss of power aboard the ship,
subjecting Triumph’s passengers to five days of reportedly horrid conditions
while the ship was towed from Mexican waters back to port in Alabama.
Rockefeller notes a disturbing trend of serious events on Carnival ships
within the past five years.
The maritime law firm offers up a possible explanation: Crew members face
longer working hours and declining working conditions because they no longer
have the protection of the U.S. court system.
“Sadly, we have connected the dots between an obscure legal maneuver made by
the cruise lines and the increase in shipboard accidents,” said Jason
Margulies, shareholder with the firm. “A few years ago, the cruise industry
started placing foreign arbitration clauses in its crew contracts. While it
may seem insignificant where disputes are resolved, we have drawn the
conclusion that because worker’s rights are no longer protected by U.S.
courts, dangerous conditions are not being properly defended and ultimately
the cruise passenger suffers.”
The cruise industry now forces its crew into foreign arbitrations when they
have an issue with their employer. In its letter, the maritime law firm
explains that: “Requiring crew to submit exclusively to foreign arbitration to
address wrongdoing which led to their injuries means that cruise lines escape
responsibility for decisions which lead to dangerous conditions for crew.”
Ultimately, the crewmembers who run and maintain the cruise ships are deprived
of the historic protections of U.S. law. The consequences can be significant.
The letter to Rockefeller references an arbitration in the Philippines where a
crewmember who was burned over 35% of his body was awarded less than $2,000
against his employer. The result, the firm explains, is that the cruise lines
removed any deterrent to cutting operating costs by subjecting crew to harsh
conditions – creating an overworked crew that is jeopardizing the safety of
“United States citizens fill the ships and the coffers of the major cruise
lines, but their own employees don’t have the protection of the U.S. court
system,” said Margulies. “As we saw with the Carnival Triumph, the
consequences are dire.”
The maritime firm’s letter to Rockefeller, also copied to New York Senator
Charles Shumer, concludes that, “This recent marked deterioration in crew
conditions as a result of the cruise lines no longer threatened with having to
directly answer for their actions in U.S. courts, we believe, directly
coincides with an increase in incidents which have risked the safety of the
U.S. cruising consumer.”
Links to relevant documents:
Letter from Senator Rockefeller to Mickey Arison:
Letter from Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. to Senator
Carnival Crewmember Contract containing foreign arbitration clause:
Study referenced in firm letter:
Bautista decision referenced in firm letter:
Lindo decision referenced in firm letter:
Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A.
Jason Margulies, 305-373-3016
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