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Showing posts from August, 2012

Seaman Entitled to Attorney's Fees Under Florida's Offer of Judgment Statute

In ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISES, LTD., v. COX, 37 Fla. L. Weekly D2029a (Fla. 3d DCA August 22, 2012), the Third District Court of appeals held that the trial court properly awarded injured seaman attorney's fees pursuant to Florida's offer of judgment statute in his action asserting claims against cruise line for Jones Act negligence, failure to treat, maintenance and cure, unearned wages, and unseaworthiness. Given the short length of the opinion, I have copied it in its entirety (less the footnotes).   QUOTE (LAGOA, J.) Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (“RCCL”) appeals an order awarding seaman Byron Cox (“Cox”) attorney's fees pursuant to Florida's offer of judgment statute, section 768.79, Florida Statutes (1997), following a jury verdict in his favor in an admiralty case. We are compelled to affirm based on the authority of Royal Caribbean Corp. v. Modesto, 614 So. 2d 517 (Fla. 3d DCA 1992).
Cox filed the underlying action against RCCL after h…

North American Emissions Control Area Is Now Here

The North American Emissions Control Area ("NAECA") entered into force last August and included a one-year grace period to give the various enforcement agencies and the maritime community sufficient time to adapt to the new regulations. The grace period ended on August 1, 2012.

The NAECA covers nearly all coastal waters of the United States and Canada out to 200 nautical miles from their coasts. A chart of the area concerned is found below:

Photo taken from:

Within the ECA, ships and yachts of 400 gross tons and above are required to reduce harmful air emissions by adopting one of three approved alternatives:
1. Use fuel with a sulfur content that does not exceed 1.0 %;

2. Utilize an exhaust gas cleaning system approved by its flag administration in accordance with IMO guidelines; or

3. Adopt any other technological method that is verifiable, enforceable, and has been approved by its flag administration…

Bank Loses Its First Preferred Ship Mortgage Status

In the case of BRANCH BANKING & TRUST CO. of VIRGINIA v. M/Y "BEOWULF," 23 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. D285a (S.D. Fla.  June 7, 2012) (Hurley, J.), a bank filed an in rem admiralty action to foreclose a first preferred ship mortgage claimed by mortgagee bank on defendant vessel, which was assigned second identification number after execution of mortgage, documented under different name, and sold to third-party purchaser for value, all without notice to bank. The third-party purchaser for value claims competing ownership interest in defendant vessel as subsequent innocent purchaser for value. The court found that the mortgagee bank is not entitled to preferred ship mortgage status under Ship Mortgage Act because the mortgage was invalid to create a security interest in defendant vessel where mortgagor did not hold good and valid legal title to vessel on day he executed the mortgage. The court reasoned that only a valid mortgage is eligible for preferred status under Ship Mortga…

Speaking Engagement: Jones Act and 905(b) Claims

I am speaking next week at the 67th Annual Workers' Compensation Educational Conference in Orlando, Florida on the the topic of Jones Act Claims, 905(b) and Other Marine Injury Claims: Defenses and Damages. The partial agenda of the conference (as there are numerous breakouts) can be found here =>

If you are interested in this topic and have never been to this conference, it is a huge conference that provides lawyers, insurance adjusters, underwriters, medical providers and planners opportunities to collect the continuing education they require.

If you have any questions regarding this conference or are interested in receiving the outline for this presentation, please feel free to contact me at or

4th DCA Doesn't Allow Production of Records in Fee Request

The Daily Business Review reports recently that the Fourth District Court of Appeal granted a petition on August 14, 2012 to stop discovery of the billing records of a losing attorney who defended a driver in an auto accident case. Steven Dyda, who was injured, sued Balande Estilien and won at trial. Dyda then asked Palm Beach Circuit Judge Lucy Chernow Brown to require Estilien's attorney to produce all billing records in the case.
Estilien objected on relevance grounds, but Chernow Brown allowed limited discovery with an exception for privileged information. Dyda's attorney said the information was needed to reconstruct the time he spent on the case because he didn't keep time records on the contingency case.
The 4th DCA has issued a reminder that a trial court’s discretion to allow discovery of an attorney’s billing records is not unfettered. The Court held that the requesting attorney must show relevancy, need and undue hardship to find the information elsewhere. This …

Florida Gives Port Canaveral $24.4 Million to Complete Harbor Improvements

The Maritime Executive reports today that Port Canaveral will get $24.4 million in state funding to complete its harbor widening and deepening project to accommodate larger cruise and cargo ships. The money from the Florida Department of Transportation ("FDOT") will allow the project to be completed four years earlier than possible through the federal process.

During his recent visit to Port Canaveral, Florida Governor Rick Scott emphasized the importance of Florida’s seaports for increasing the state’s international competitiveness and for generating high-paying jobs. A FDOT study shows every $1 invested in seaports generates $7 to the state’s economy. The channel improvement project is expected to yield $11 for every dollar invested.

With this remarkable news, Port Canaveral should rethink its current practice of charging cruise passengers $20 a day to park in a spacious port terminal. For a cruise passenger taking a one-week cruise out of Port Canaveral, that is a parking…

Insurer's Duty to Defend Under Injury-In-Fact Theory

In the case of AXIS SURPLUS INSURANCE COMPANY v. CONTRAVEST CONSTRUCTION COMPANY, et al, 23 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. D279a (M.D. Fla. June 5, 2012) (Antoon, J.), the court found that in a declaratory judgment action filed by an insurance company, a commercial general liability insurer has a duty to defend insureds in an underlying suit for allegedly negligent construction and development of individual dwelling units and common areas of condominium community where property damage occurred during policy period.

The court reasoned that under injury-in-fact theory which provides that damage “occurs” at the moment that there is actual damage and date of discovery is irrelevant, the insurer has duty to defend where underlying complaint suggests that “property damage” at issue occurred at some point after buildings were completed but before discovery by expert inspections, which includes the time that the policies were in effect. The court also found that even under the insurer's strict inter…