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Crewmember Claims Not Falling Within Arbitration Clause

In DOE v. PRINCESS CRUISE LINES, LTD., 23 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. C439a (11th Cir. September 23, 2011), the Eleventh Circuit held that the trial court did not err in holding that a crewmember's claims for false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, spoliation of evidence, invasion of privacy, and fraudulent misrepresentation do not fall within scope of arbitration provision, where those claims contain allegations that do not arise from, do not relate to, and are not connected with parties' crew agreement or services performed by plaintiff as bar server. The Eleventh Circuit reasoned that such claims are not the immediate, foreseeable result of performance of parties' contractual duties or plaintiff's services as cruise line employee and are not within scope of arbitration clause, where claims involve factual allegations about how cruise line and its officials treated plaintiff after learning that she had been raped, including allegations that she was kept on the ship against her will, that she was prevented from getting medical attention off the ship, that her rape kit was destroyed in incinerator, and that her confidentiality as rape victim was intentionally violated. 

However, the Eleventh Circuit also found that the district court erred by denying the cruise line's motion to compel arbitration on remaining five claims which fall under either Jones Act or general maritime law applicable to seamen, or Seaman's Wage Act, because those claims arise directly from plaintiff's undisputed status as a “seaman” employed by cruise line and the rights that she derives from that employment status, and as a result fall within scope of arbitration provision.

If you are interested in receiving a complete copy of this decision, please feel free to contact me at Houck Anderson at mailto:mmotero@houckanderson.com or miamipandi@comcast.net.

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