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Showing posts from July, 2011

New Economic Loss Rule Decision in Fifth Circuit

The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently overturned a decision by the Western District of Louisiana to dismiss a plaintiff’s demand for economic losses arising from a maritime tort for failure to satisfy the physical damage requirement of the economic loss rule, as set forth in the decision Louisiana ex. rel. Guste v. M/V TESTBANK, 752 F. 2d 1019 (5th Cir. 1985)(en banc), cert. denied, 477 U.S. 903 (1986). Under general maritime law, there can be no recovery for economic loss without physical damage to or an invasion of a proprietary interest. Robbins Dry Dock & Repair Co. v. Flint, 275 U.S. 303 (1927). In Catalyst Old River Hydroelectric Limited Partnership v. Ingram Barge Co., 639 F.3d 207 (5th Cir. 2011), the Fifth Circuit addressed the issue of whether a physical invasion of a proprietary interest and preparations to mitigate further damages are sufficient to satisfy the economic loss rule under general maritime law. In December 2007, two tug and barge units collided on…

Coast Guard Responds to Cruise Ship Collision in Port of Key West, FL

The Maritime Executive reports that the Coast Guard responded to a minor collision between two cruise ships in the Port of Key West Tuesday morning. No injuries, pollution or structural damage occurred during the incident. The CARNIVAL IMAGINATION was moored and the CARNIVAL FANTASY was mooring when the vessels struck stern to stern, causing minor cosmetic damage to both vessels. Alcohol and drug testing have been conducted on personnel in safety-sensitive positions in accordance with Coast Guard policy. The Coast Guard is investigating the incident. If you wish to contact me, you may do so at or

$1.25 Million Arbitration Verdict for Injured Crewmember

In Burzan v. Royal Caribbean Cruises, case no. 50-517T00024-09, arbitrators Patricia B. Diaz, Cindy N. Hannah and Jerome H. Wolfson award the plaintiff crewmember $1.25 Million for maintenance and cure, the cost of future surgery and all measures of compensatory damages awardable, including her legal costs related to the arbitration. At the time of her injury, the plaintiff was working aboard the JEWEL OF THE SEAS when another crewmember opened a door, which hit the plaintiff in the back on June 17, 2008. The plaintiff fell and received medical attention the next day.

The ship's doctor declared the plaintiff unfit for duty, but she continued working at her supervisor's insistence, aggravating her back injury. The plaintiff later received medical care in St. Petersburg, Russia and in Stockholm, Sweden, where she was misdiagnosed with a spinal fracture. The plaintiff had actually suffered a herniated disc and foot drop. The plaintiff was subsequently flown to her native Serbia …

Insured Not Entitled to Appraisal Where Coverage Denied

In OCEANIA I CONDO ASSOCIATION, INC. v. QBE INSURANCE CORP.,  23 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. D9a (S.D. Fla. May 20, 2011), Judge Patricia A. Seitz (Case No. 11-20578-CIV-SEITZ/SIMONTON) found that an insured is not entitled to appraisal, where coverage for a hurricane claim has been denied in its entirety because insurer has unequivocally stated that no coverage is available under policy and that policy is void. The judge further found that because the issue of whether claim is covered by policy is a question for judicial determination, when the claim has been denied in its entirety based on lack of coverage, appraisal is not appropriatebecause QBE has declared the policy void, there is no covered claim and therefore the parties cannot disagree over the amount of any covered claim.

Prior to this decision, there had been numerous insureds arguing that because the insurer assigned a claim number to the loss, investigated the loss, and initially acknowledged insurance coverage for the loss in a…

Lawyer Sued by Passenger Client for Delaying Lawsuit

The Daily Business Review reports that a Coral Gables lawyer has been sued by a former client who claims he waited too long to file her lawsuit against Carnival Cruise Lines. In her June 21 lawsuit filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court, Tania Pagliery said she hired Antonio S. Gonzalez to sue the cruise line for a slip-and-fall injury. She contends he promised to move the case forward but did not file a lawsuit, causing her case to be time-barred because no action was taken for more than a year after claims were made with the company. Ms. Pagliery alleges she was further aggravated when Mr. Gonzalez avoided responding to phone calls for months. Ms. Pagliery has hired maritime lawyer Jonathan Aronson to sue her former attorney.

This case emphasizes the fact that cruise line passenger tickets generally have a notice requirement and shortened time of one year to file a lawsuit. Blow that deadline and you blow your case. This case also emphasizes that clients seeking to claim against vessel …

Merrill Stevens Purchased for $6.63 million

Coconut Grove Bank sold the historic Merrill-Stevens boat yard on the Miami River for $6.63 million ($59.92 per square foot) to Marlow-Merrill-Stevens LLC. The property is a 111,386 square foot boat yard on 5.59 acres. There is no immediate report on what the new buyer intends for the property.

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Defense Verdict for Ship Managers Against Cruise Line

In Seven Seas Cruises v. V. Ships, case no. 09-CV-23411, the cruise line filed suit against their ship managers, V. Ships, alleging failures by V. Ships in maintaining 3 luxury cruise ships, the SEVEN SEAS NAVIGATOR, the SEVEN SEAS VOYAGER and the SEVEN SEAS MARINER, sailing for Regent Seven Seas Cruises. The cruise line claimed V. Ships breached technical management and maintenance service contracts, causing increased maintenance and repairs costs, as well as lost profits. The shipowner brough claims for breach of oral contract and breach of the warranty of workmanlike performance.

The court dismissed certain plaintiffs and claims, leaving $20 million in claims involving the NAVIGATOR and VOYAGER, which operate in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. The court found in favor of V. Ships, writing an extensive history of the cruise ships, the case and onboard management. Judge Ungaro noted the NAVIGATOR was a retrofitted Soviet ship that was rushed through an Italian shipyard in 2000. …