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 »

Articles Posted in LMA in the News

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The Carnival Triumph cruise ship fire accident has sparked the attention and criticism of the maritime industry and media sources worldwide. Passengers and crewmembers were subjected to unsanitary conditions on the vessel and scarce food provisions, which Jason R. Margulies, experienced at Lipcon, explains is sufficient justification to file a suit.

On a recent interview with CNN, Mr. Margulies discussed Carnival’s negligence in failing to provide a safe environment for all onboard the Triumph, including placing everyone at risk for disease, and how victims have a right to seek legal counsel. Read the entire CNN interview here.

Then contact our firm if you were a passenger or crewmember aboard the Triumph. We have over 80 years combined cruise ship law experience and will work hard to protect your rights under the law.

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When it comes to cruise passenger rights and the damages they are entitled to for injuries or emotional trauma suffered at the hands of a negligent cruise operator, the line between what should be done by cruise companies to compensate passengers and what will they will actually provide victims is drawn.

As Carnival Triumph passengers make their way home following what many have called the cruise vacation from hell, it is important for all who were onboard following the cruise ship fire to understand what their rights are and what they are entitled to as far as recoveries.

According to a statement on Carnival’s website, the following compensation will be issued to Triumph cruise passengers: Full cruise refund, reimbursement for transportation expenses and certain onboard purchases, future cruise credit, and $500 per person.

Unfortunately, not everyone is satisfied with what the company has offered.

The question then remains: Do Carnival Triumph passengers have a right to seek more in damages than what the line is offering? According to Lipcon’s maritime accident attorney, Michael A. Winkleman, the answer is YES.

On an interview this morning on Fox Network’s Fox & Friends seen HERE, Mr. Winkleman discussed the rights of Triumph passengers to receive better compensation.

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Carnival Triumph passengers have been forced to endure horrendous and unsanitary conditions onboard the vessel since a fire erupted in the cruise ship’s engine room last Sunday. The ship has been slowly making its way to Mobile, Alabama, without power, sufficient provisions or working toilets.

As Carnival Corp.’s accident tally continues to rise, something must be done to improve maritime safety onboard vessels fleet-wide, as well as among other cruise industry liners.

Lipcon’s own trial and appellate attorney, Michael A. Winkleman, will be discussing the importance of cruise ship safety and passenger rights on America Live with Megyn Kelly on Fox News Channel tomorrow, Feb. 15, as the show’s maritime law expert.

The program is scheduled to air at 2 p.m. EST (Scheduling may be subject to change).

Mr. Winkleman is also expected to discuss the Carnival Triumph cruise ship fire accident on the network’s Justice with Judge Jeanine show, airing on Saturday at 9 p.m. EST.

Our maritime accident lawyers stress the importance for all cruise ship accident victims to know that they have a right to seek legal counsel for their pain and suffering. Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. has been representing both passengers and crewmembers injured or killed at sea since 1971, as well as those who have been denied their rightful benefits, including medical care, provisions and wages.

We work diligently to protect the rights of all who have suffered because of negligence and wrongdoing onboard a cruise ship, barge or personal water craft, and are available for consultation if you or a loved one were involved in a maritime accident or negligence incident.

Disclaimer:

Fox News programming schedules are subject to change. Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. does not assume responsibility for cancelled programming.

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Each maritime lawyer at our firm has represented many victims of accidents and injuries at sea, from boating accident victims to cruise ship injury victims to crewmembers who have been wronged by a negligent employer. Recently, our firm was recognized in the media for our work on a limitation of liability case, and we are pleased to announce that we resolved the injury claim in favor of the victim.

The case involved a passenger who was hurt in a motorboat accident. The victim was onboard a rented motorboat and was injured because of the vessel operator’s negligence. Although maritime accident victims may be entitled to large sums of compensation for their pain and suffering, an arcane law, known as the Limitation of Liability Act, allows owners to place a cap on the amount they will compensate victims.

When a limitation of liability case is filed, the owner of the vessel responsible for the collision can file action in Federal Court to limit their liability to the claimant to the total amount equal to the post-collision value of their vessel that was involved in the accident. In the event that the accident involves a vessel of little or no value, such as a jet ski or capsized vessel, the victim will not be able to obtain the recovery they deserve for their injuries. Not only will the victim have to suffer injuries caused by someone else’s negligence, but they will not even be able to recover costs from their medical expenses. Some of these maritime accident victims are unable to fully heal from their injuries, but the negligent vessel owners walk away from the case without any responsibility to the person they hurt.

In this limitation of liability claim, the boat operators filed an action to limit its liability in the incident to the asserted value of the motorboat, which in this case totaled $12,500. However, the injured victim’s damages amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars. After the limitation action was filed by the boat owners, the victim sought our help to defeat the limitation, which we were able to successfully resolve in favor of the passenger.

Our years of experience representing maritime accident victims have taught us exactly what needs to be done to help those who have been wronged by a vessel operator’s negligence to obtain the justice they deserve, as well as the full amount of compensation they are entitled to. While vessel owners may try to limit the amount they will pay to victims, our attorneys here at Lipcon know better than to give up. These types of cases can be difficult to resolve, but our attorneys are actively involved in maritime litigation with cargo ships, tankers, motorboats, sail boats, cruise lines, and even jet skis, and have been able to recover damages for victims that exceed what they might otherwise be limited to obtaining.

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A UK television documentary that makers claim will shed new light on what goes on behind the scenes onboard a Southampton-based cruise line is garnering the attention of both movie critics and cruise line authorities.

Undercover reporters claim their footage from the Celebrity Eclipse demonstrates low standards are maintained for staff members. They claim the crew was forced to accept poor working conditions that are far below the legal minimum in Britain.

The 30-minute documentary aired Monday, October 1, on the British show “Dispatches,” but before the show aired, cruise line officials said they would take “swift action” should any subpar working conditions be uncovered.

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May 21, 2012–Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman principals and maritime lawyers Michael Winkleman and Jason Margulies, along with associate Eric Morales, represented Chief Mate William Skye in a lawsuit versus Maersk Lines Limited in a five-day jury trial held in the U.S. District Court Southern District Court Miami Division. The lawsuit derived from medical complications, specifically a heart condition known as Left Ventricular Hypertrophy. According to the lawsuit, Skye encountered this medical condition, as well as an adjustment disorder due to a strenuous and overtime-heavy work schedule.

While the jury didn’t find violations of the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), they did find that Skye was forced in to early retirement because of his working conditions aboard the Sealand Pride. Due to this, the jury awarded Skye ten years of compensation he will not be able to earn and also non-economic damages, together totaling $2.36 million in losses, and finding Maersk 25% responsible. You can read additional details about the case here

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According to reports a woman that was drugged and raped on a cruise that left from Miami on February 1st has now filed suit against the Carnival Cruise Line.

It is reported that the woman identified as Morgan Black a mother and piano teacher from Jacksonville who went on the Sixthman Music Cruise on the ship Carnival Victory.

Morgan’s suit claims she was drugged and raped by a fellow passenger the last night of the cruise, which was February 4th.

In her suit that is being presented by her attorneys Charles Lipcon of Miami, a cruise ship litigation attorney and Gloria Allred the attorney from California who has taken part in victims rights cases. The Carnival Cruise Line is being held responsible for neglecting to have security cameras in all of the common areas of the ship.

Lipcon, Morgan’s attorney has a published book that discusses these type of incidences that he states happens often and he estimated that he files approximately one suit a week for victims of cruise ships. [The books is called Unsafe on the High Seas and can be purchased here].

It is reported that the cruise line has made a statement that they would not comment on this case, as they have not seen the suit, however their priority is to keep passengers and the crew safe on their ships. They have security officers who are not in uniform on their cruises and many are retired police officers and other law professionals on board their ships.

This case was filed in the U.S. District Court in Miami on Thursday June 19th as a U.S. Senate subcommittee in Washington D.C. was hearing evidence as to the safety for passengers aboard cruise ships. Among those who testified was Kendall Carver whose daughter disappeared approximately three years ago from a cruise ship and is the president of International Cruise Victims.

While Carver stated he was pleased with the way this committee meeting went, part of the reason that these meetings are necessary are because of what advocates say is a non-existence of government involvement, vague jurisdictions and their corporate policies.

This was the first hearing held to discuss the safety of American passengers on cruise ships although there have been meetings on this issue by House Committee.

by Otto Smyth
cruiseshiplawsuits.blogspot.com

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Maritime attorney Charles R. Lipcon has been named Super Lawyer for the second year in a row. Only 5% of South Florida attorneys have been named to the list. Mr. Lipcon was selected through an extensive process of balloting, blue ribbon panel review and independent research.

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Seriously Outstanding
only 5% selected each year

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Five years after the deadliest cruise industry accident in more than a decade, Norwegian Cruise Line has agreed to plead guilty to criminal negligence in the SS Norway explosion.

Federal prosecutors on Friday charged Norwegian Cruise Line with gross negligence almost five years after a boiler explosion on the historic SS Norway killed eight crew members and seriously injured 10 others in the Port of Miami.

The U.S. attorney’s office said Norwegian agreed to plead guilty to the criminal charge, which alleges the cruise line operated the vessel in a “grossly negligent manner that endangered the lives, limbs and property of the persons on board.”

Norwegian is liable for at least $500,000 in criminal penalties for the deadliest accident on a U.S.-based ocean liner in more than a decade. The cruise line also has agreed to carry out safety inspections of its vessels with an independent consultant.

Coast Guard Rear Admiral Robert Branham called the May 25, 2003, explosion a “preventable tragedy.”

”Hopefully, this case will send a message to the maritime industry that marine safety should be the paramount consideration in maintaining their vessels,” he said in a statement.

The cruise line said Friday evening that it has cooperated with federal authorities since the explosion and will continue to do so. ”The safety and security of our passengers and crew has been and always will be of the utmost importance,” Norwegian’s statement said.

A National Transportation Safety Board report on the accident, quietly completed in November, showed NCL engineers had expressed concerns since the late 1990s about the condition of the four boilers that powered the elegant ship. The massive high-pressure boilers, each holding 20 tons of 528-degree water, had a history of cracks, leaks, corrosion and repairs.

”We must realize that we have reached a point where the operation of the vessel is not safe,” one unnamed NCL port engineer wrote in a 1998 e-mail to the company’s vice president of ship operations, the NTSB report said. The engineer cited ”numerous boiler tube failures” that were subsequently repaired.

PATCH JOBS

The NTSB found the primary cause of the explosion was the fracture of a weld on a seam of a high-pressure drum. The scalding water flashed into steam, swept through the engine spaces and some adjacent crew berthing areas and killed eight crew members while injuring nearly a dozen others. No passengers were hurt.

Investigators also found questionable welds and crack-repair efforts; inconsistent water chemistry that led to corrosion; inadequate inspections from both NCL and Bureau Veritas, an international inspection agency, and an operating schedule that exposed the aging boilers to extreme thermal stresses.

In January and July 2002, a year before the boiler burst, NCL port engineers e-mailed NCL management with concerns that the ship’s routes and busy schedules forced crew to fire up and cool down the boilers more rapidly than the operating manual called for.

The report was also critical of NCL’s handling of persistent cracks in the boilers, which first appeared in original welds in the 1970s. Cracks were ground down until boiler walls reached a minimum allowable thickness then built back up with weld repairs. The length and width of the welds, the NTSB found, probably accelerated pitting and cracking.

At some point, copper — an unacceptable metal for repairs — also appeared to have been deliberately applied to cracks on the boiler that exploded.

”The only explanation for the presence of the copper is that it was introduced to mask the crack, impede inspection and avoid necessary repairs,” the report said.

Investigators also found a lengthy gap in formal inspections, “even though it was known that they were susceptible to cracking and were in fact cracked in 1996.”

The report found that the header, the part of boiler No. 23 that failed, had not had a material test or appropriate visual inspection since 1990.

The cruise line was charged in an ”information,” not a criminal complaint or indictment. That means Norwegian executives and prosecutors negotiated the misdemeanor charge.

”Charges such as those today are necessary to show that companies operating and managing ships have a duty to take reasonable measures to assure the safety of all onboard — passengers and crew,” said U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta.

In addition, the NTSB noted that NCL had agreed to improve its fleet emergency response, safety measures and maintenance records. Though few ships, aside from Naval vessels, still rely on large high-pressure boilers for primary power, smaller low-pressure ones are routinely used to heat water or for other shipboard systems.

FAMILIES CAN’T SUE

Miami attorney Charles Lipcon, who represented many of the victims and is the author of the new book, Unsafe on the High Seas, praised the criminal charge.

”I’m pleased to see that the U.S. attorney stepped up to the plate and got involved,” he said. But he called it ”unfortunate” that the crew members and their families were not able to press civil lawsuits against Norwegian in federal court in Miami.

The dead and injured seamen were mostly Filipino. Their contracts with Norwegian called for settling claims in arbitration, so their lawsuits were dismissed from federal court in Miami. The cruise line negotiated settlements afterward.

A cruise industry representative called the criminal case a strong signal.

”We take safety very seriously as an industry, and we hope this gets resolved and look forward to a resolution,” said Michael Crye, executive vice president of the Cruise Lines International Association, a trade group.

The SS Norway had a storied past. It was launched as the SS France in 1960. At 1,035 feet, it was the longest passenger ship afloat and could carry more than 2,000. It was too long and too wide for the Panama Canal.

Deemed unprofitable in 1974, the ocean-liner was mothballed in France. In 1979, Norwegian Cruise Line bought it for $18 million — its value in scrap metal — and revamped it at a cost of $120 million. After a ”farewell cruise” to Europe in 2001, the SS Norway returned to Miami for seven-day cruises in the eastern Caribbean. It was among the last ocean-liners powered by high-pressure steam boilers.

It has been out of commission since the boiler explosion five years ago. The company has since sold it for scrap.

The Miami Herald
By JAY WEAVER AND CURTIS MORGAN