Contributors

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 »

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BelizeThough the threat of Ebola remains unclear on land in the United States, the horrific virus continues to cause problems for the cruise industry. Last week, the industry dealt with a mass panic aboard the Carnival Magic, aka the “Ebola Cruise”, caused by a Dallas hospital lab worker’s less than sound decision to board the ship (carrying over 2,000 people) after potentially being exposed to the virus at her job. (Thankfully, she tested negative for Ebola!) And now, the popular cruise port of Belize is reportedly giving cruise lines a bit of a headache after the island nation has decided to impose new and understandably strict measures for screening cruise passengers for Ebola.

According to an article from 7 News Belize, the nation’s Ministry of Immigration announced it will soon require cruise passengers to undergo screenings for Ebola at the Belize Harbor. However, rumor has it that the two cruise industry tycoons, Carnival and Royal Caribbean, have supposedly “threatened to pull scheduled cruises” from Belize as a result. What could possibly be the problem here?

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Ebola_virus_emIt seems like all anyone can talk about these days is Ebola. Sure, we can understand why. I mean, we are in the midst of the largest Ebola outbreak in history. And, there have been a number of Ebola-related cases (one of them fatal) in the United States. Let’s not forget the fact that Ebola is one of the deadliest viruses on the planet. Even for the very, very lucky few who recover from Ebola, the virus can still cause lifetime complications with health.

Naturally, it’s safe to say everyone’s pretty shaken up right now and worried about Ebola. The same goes for each maritime attorney at our firm. But while over 5,000 people have already gotten sick (mostly in West Africa), the fear and threat of becoming infected with Ebola is exponentially higher for travelers. There is no world-wide travel ban, which means that an infected person may board a plane, Greyhound bus, or even a cruise ship. Steps are being taken to prevent travel of those who might be infected. Still too early to know if this can help or not.

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Carnival MagicA few days ago, our maritime lawyers reported on the so-called Ebola Cruise, aka, the Carnival Magic. One of the passengers on board had worked at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas as a lab worker, where a patient died of Ebola, and made the not-so-wise decision to go on a cruise, potentially putting thousands of people at risk for infection.

Well, the ship has now returned to its homeport of Galveston, Texas. According to reports, the passenger eventually tested negative for the virus, but that doesn’t mean that what happened is okay or that something similar won’t happen again. And it sure doesn’t mean we should all just sit back, throw our feet up and call it case closed.

If a health care employee did not have the common sense to steer clear from others, knowing well that she had worked in the hospital where there was, in fact, an Ebola case, who’s to stop others from doing the same? Furthermore, who’s going to ensure cruise lines quarantine passengers (or crew members) displaying symptoms?

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Miami waterwaysBecause our blog is generally about people getting badly injured at sea, we thought it would be nice to mix it up a bit and focus on something positive about the water!

Miami is known for many things, including spectacular weather, incredible cuisine, and not to mention, fantastic nightlife. But perhaps one of the city’s greatest appeals is its seemingly endless number of waterways that make for amazing recreational boating trips. Eager water lovers can enjoy one of the city’s numerous bays, rivers, or even set off for a scenic cruise across the Atlantic Ocean.  So what are some of the best spots for boaters in Miami? Read on to find out some of our top choices. Continue reading →

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Ebola virusJust last week, we evaluated whether cruise passengers faced the risk of contracting Ebola while on a cruise ship. While it seemed that the risk wasn’t high, we wondered if the cruise lines had a protocol if this were to happen. Or better yet, did they have a protocol to prevent something like this from happening in the first place.  

Now, it is clear that one passenger on board the Carnival Magic may have been in contact with the disease. It was reported that the cruise line offered only $200 to each passenger and a 50% discount in future cruises in compensation to passengers who found themselves on this Ebola-cruise.

For passengers who bought into a week of rest, relaxation, and sunshine, but ended up cowering in fear in their cabins, this just doesn’t seem right.  It was reported that the cruise line also failed to keep the channels of communication open when it came to keeping passengers informed, raising red flags about how cruise lines may handle similar situations in the future. The National Post reported on the debacle, explaining that even when the captain initially publicized the quarantine, he failed to mention that it had anything to do with Ebola.

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HandcuffsJust a few weeks ago, a former Holland America cruise ship worker confessed to brutally beating, raping, and attempting to throw a passenger overboard. Our firm reported on the disturbing cruise ship rape and attempted murder incident, which happened on February 14 aboard the MS Nieuw Amsterdam. The assailant, a 28-year-old Indonesian man, obtained a key to the victim’s stateroom and waited in the balcony area of her cabin until she returned to her cabin. Once she was inside, the crew member proceeded to attack her.

While on trial, the perpetrator claimed he that the passenger had incited him prior to the incident by insulting his mother and calling him names. This was his excuse. After stewing over the alleged exchange all day, the crew member then decided to plot the attack and upon entering her room, lunged at the victim, striking her with a laptop and a curling iron, and even attempting to strangle her with a telephone cord. After raping the victim, he then tried to throw her overboard from the cabin’s balcony. Miraculously the woman escaped, but this horrific crime serves to further highlight the lack of safety for passengers on cruise ships.

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Security guardEach maritime attorney at our firm can tell you that a wide range of crimes have occurred aboard cruise ships over the years, including sexual assault, battery, theft, and even homicide. Some crimes involve other passengers, while others involve the crew members themselves. Many crimes on ships could be prevented if cruise lines were to invest a greater amount of funds into improving onboard security, such as hiring trained security officers and ensuring surveillance footage is constantly monitored. Unfortunately, we’ve seen crime after crime happen without cruise lines doing much to stop them or prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.

Though some incidents may happen to quickly to be stopped, despite a cruise line’s best effort to keep passengers safe, some cruise ship crimes are so severe and shocking that we are left wondering if the ship had any type of security system or personnel onboard. Recently, we’ve come to learn about one such type of crime that is rumored to have occurred aboard a Costa Cruises vessel.

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Ebola_virus_emWith Ebola having killed over 3,000 people in west Africa, and having killed one victim already in the U.S., some cruise line passengers may wonder whether traveling might put them at risk. Given the fact that cruise ships are filled with small, confined spaces and up to thousands of people in one sailing, they are often a breeding grounds for diseases.

The maritime lawyers here at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. have seen a wide range of outbreaks affect cruise passengers, but by far, the most frequently reported of all infectious disease incidents are associated with Norovirus, a gastrointestinal illness that is extremely contagious. The fact that cruise ships offer such close quarters, once Norovirus starts spreading, an outbreak becomes likely, resulting in ship quarantines and sick passengers. Additionally, the fact that cruise ships often maintain subpar sanitation, the likelihood with which a virus can spread is exacerbated.

So, given the fact that disease can spread quickly on board a ship, are cruise passengers at greater risk for contracting Ebola? Yes and no.

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Life jacketsFor many of us, enjoying a relaxing day out on a motorboat, tinny, or jet ski is the ideal perfect day. When we think of going out on the open waters, whether for fishing, scuba diving excursions, or sightseeing, we don’t usually equate the activity with tragedy. Though the possibility of getting into an accident is very real, the notion that we’ll be the ones suffering a boating accident is not a very prominent one.

While recreational boating should be an enjoyable pastime first and foremost, it’s important to remember that accidents can – and often do – happen. Most boating accidents happen in the blink of an eye and can involve both experienced and novice sailors alike. Even the most prepared of boaters can become caught in a sudden storm or rogue wave, or can be the victim of another individual’s negligent actions, such as boating while under the influence of alcohol or speeding.

Because there is no guarantee that a collision or capsizing tragedy will not occur, each boating accident lawyer at our firm can attest to the fact that it is always better to live by the motto, “better safe than sorry.”

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CaboLast Saturday, the Star Princess cruise ship called on Cabo San Lucas, Mexico to deliver supplies to residents after the area was devastated by Hurricane Odile. According to news reports, the Princess Cruises’ ship brought bottled water, milk and paper products, among other supplies.

“The residents of Cabo San Lucas form one big hospitality community that regularly welcomes our ships’ guests. We want to return that hospitality by giving back to them as they work to recover and prepare to receive visitors once again,” said Princess President Jan Swartz.

Though we applaud Princess’ decisions to assist the devastated city, we can’t help but wonder where this same sense of urgency and consideration was when another Carnival Corp. vessel, the Carnival Triumph, was in need of assistance?

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