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Charles R. Lipcon
Charles R. Lipcon is the firm's founding attorney and has been handling injury, cruise line sexual assault and wrongful death claims for over 40 years. Read More »
Jason R. Margulies
Jason R. Margulies is an experienced maritime lawyer and an active trial attorney handling personal injury, cruise line sexual assault and wrongful death claims. Read More »
Ricardo V. Alsina
Ricardo V. Alsina is an active trial attorney, handling personal injury, cruise line sexual assault and wrongful death claims. Read More »
Michael A. Winkleman
Mr. Winkleman is an active trial and appellate attorney handling all personal injury, cruise line sexual assault and wrongful death claims, as well as complex business disputes. Read More »

More Cruise Ship Crewmembers coming forward claiming Slavery

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A CRUISE BRUISE EXCLUSIVE

I had a neighbor decades ago, who was scared to death of her husband. She had good reason to be scared, he had beaten her to a bloody pulp more than once, and threatened her with death more times than I can count. I lived next door and could hear the wild accusations that he would make and the resulting beatings. He watched her every move. She couldn’t go to the store without him, couldn’t talk on the phone or write letters without him screening them.

She was a frail little thing, with two tiny kids, and he could have snapped her like a twig anytime the mood would strike. I stayed out of her affairs, as she requested, until one day I could no longer take the screaming, pleading and begging for help. She was up against the kitchen wall, a butcher knife to her throat, screaming for somebody to call the police because he was going to kill her. So, I did.

When the police arrived they could see the scene through the window, drew their guns and kicked in the door, screaming at him repeatedly to “drop it”. Long story short, she refused to press charges, he stayed in the house that night and I was the villain. I have never been able to understand that.

I understand her decision to not have him locked up, it is a pattern of partner abuse mirrored millions of times in this country. I just don’t understand how calling the police when begged to do so, made me the bad guy.

I will say, with two small children at her feet, lacking a high school education, no car of her own, and no income of her own, it is easy to see how she would feel trapped after many years of systematic abuse.

I am telling you that story, because it mirrors, in many respects the latest letter I have received from a Carnival Cruise Line crew member. The letter is so sincere, so filled with emotion, pleading for help, that I have once again made an exception for posting a story on this site. I am using my rules for posting sexual abuses cases, in this case, equally as appauling and disgusting. Abuse by any name is still abuse.

There is enough personal identifying information in this letter, that there is good reason for the crew member to be fearful that I might post it all and the crew member would be doomed. I feel so strongly that this crew member is at risk, I will not even post whether the person is female or male.

This is the fifth crew member to come forward in the past few days, all of them saying they are working for Carnival Cruise Lines. Some, seem more complaining than pleading for help. But, all are inspired by the case of Lady Africa and her bravery to make public her dire situation.

From what I can see, they have every reason to complain. But, complaining and pleading for help while out lining human rights violations are two very different things.

Crew Member #5 Contacts Cruise Bruise

Crew member #5 says that the ship has refused to give back their passport too as with Lady Africa as they call her and say they have been trapped on the ship for many months. Contracts are suppose to be for only a few months. What is going on here?

In addition, though crew member #5 gives a full name, the ship name, length of employment on the ship, country of origin, and a complete history of their family, they are terrified to give an email address.

The letter reads, “. . . some people tell me even my guest tell me get lawyers here to take action. . .”

Crew member #5 says in addition to holding the passport and refusing to let the person off the ship, they also have the email addresses crew members use, and monitor their activity. So, this person has asked to have a response posted here.

The final question posed in the email asks, “Is there some way to get justice if I have no money for lawyer in this country [America], also no B2 visa?

To that I answer, “Yes”. The conditions, wages, hours worked and intimidation the crew members are saying they suffer under, are not only illegal in this country, they have resulted in employers getting jail time.

It is a crime in the U.S. to work people in double shifts without breaks, seven days a week, to not pay them overtime, to force them to work in job positions they did not agree to, to hold them hostage in the employer’s place of business, and forbid them to leave. Without their passports these crew members might as well be shackled to their employer’s sweat shop work tables.

Now, let me come back again to another story recently posted. The towns in this country that beg for cruise industry ports-of-call, and refuse to join together to force the industry to fly the American flag and employ people under American labor law standards are assisting in the slave labor trade of some cruise lines. Shame, shame, shame on them.

It is high time the citizens living in these American ports, find a backbone, stand up for human rights and demand their elected officials refuse deals with any ship not flagged in the U.S. This industry can not afford to leave our seas, and sail away from the millions of passengers who live in the U.S. and would be lost if they left our ports.

We can bomb foreign countries to end abuse of those who can not defend themselves, while spending billions of American tax payer dollars to do so. But, we can’t write legislation to force passengers ships in our ports to fly the American flag and offer basic labor protections? I’m absolutely disgusted.

I am appealing to all cruise ship passengers, boarding from American ports to refuse to sail on these ships, write your legislators and insist on laws to better protect crew members, and to find it in your heart to take action for crew member #5 and the others, so they might enjoy the same human standards in the work place that you and I enjoy.

Say “no” to cheap cruises and say “yes” to a better standard of living for those who work as slave labor on those cheap cruises. Embark on your own personal crusade for these victims, and create such a fuss, these victims voices will not remain muffled in the belly of ships.

At minimum, I give permission to every webmaster, around the world, to post this case, word for word, so we can let EVERYONE know these people need our help. Enough is enough. It is time to speak out.

Two crew members ( 1 2 ) have gone missing at sea this month alone. One from the same ship “Lady Africa” says she was enslaved on. We can only imagine why. Was it desperation after an inability to continue to endure these substandard employment practices? We will never know.

Crew member #5, you know this story is about you, though I do not call you by your name or nickname.

I urge you to contact me with your email address, so I can begin to help you. I promise you that your email address will be kept in complete confidence by the legal professional I contact on your behalf. You asked me to give you hope, and I am reaching out to you, offering it now. I am giving you one chance, in this single, one time, posting to change work conditions for yourself and all the crew members also suffering.

If you can not give your email for fear of retribution, at least contact me again and give me permission to send a copy of your complete letter to a specialized attorney who will work for you without charge unless the attorney can get your back wages for you and help you out of your dire situation.

I assure you that you will not pay the attorney if their team can not help you, and IF they can get you paid back wages and compensation, they will deduct their fees from the money you collect. Don’t worry, you can get help without any money up front.

UPDATE: February 27, 2008 : 0100 hours

Cruise Bruise has received contact from a maritime attorney. The attorney says they can investigate Crew Member #5 claims, and other crew member claims by depositioning all the crew members within the same department, without revealing who made the original complaint. You will be protected.