Fires in engine rooms can be deadly. They are a constant threat and the cruise line has to take every precaution to prevent. This same cruise line was investigated for criminal negligence when a boiler in the SS Norway exploded and killed and badly burned several philipino crew members. That incident years ago resulted in a civil case as well called Bautista v NCL.
And an engine room fire disabled the engines and onboard power generators of the Carnival Triumph. That fire resulted in the stranding of the Triumph for 4 days in the Gulf of Mexico. The toilets backed up and sewage went into cabins and hallways. That resulted in this cruise being called the Poop Cruise.
Crew members of foreign flagged ships like the Norwegian Cruise Line ship on which this fire occurred are required by their employment agreement to bring claims in arbitration. That means that if the crewmember signed an employment agreement, he or she cannot sue to enforce his or her rights under the maritime law. The crewmember is relegated to filing a demand for arbitration sometimes applying the laws of a foreign country. And neither the Miami, Florida based cruise line nor the crewmember has any connection to that country. And the laws of that country may not afford any real compensation to the crewmember.
We represent crew members in arbitration and in court. We have represented 2 crew members with back injuries where the cruise line refused to arrange recommended back surgery. One resulted in a successful arbitration award. The other resulted in a jury verdict of over $3.4M which was affirmed on appeal at Royal Caribbean Cruises v. Bakalar. The final judgment accrued interest on appeal and the cruise line paid just under $4M.
We got a verdict recently against a large liquor company, Pernod Ricard, for $4.5M. Pernod Ricard appealed as well. And that verdict was appealed as well. And that verdict was affirmed as well and the company ended up paying, with interest, more than $5M.