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Maritime Law-Crewmember Brawl Leads to $2.5 Million Verdict Against Celebrity

Recently, a jury delivered a $2.5 million verdict against Celebrity Cruise Lines for the injury to a crewmember resulting from a brawl aboard the CELEBRITY CENTURY while she was on a European cruise and the incident occurred while the ship was off the coast of Spain. According to a Daily Business Review report dated September 16, 2013, the jury took 2½ hours to determine the award of $1.75 million in compensatory damages, $350,625 for medical expenses and $395,400 for lost wages.
The plaintiff claimed a fellow crewmember, the linen keeper onboard, got upset and started abusing him verbally and physically when he asked for sheets and towels. News has reported that the plaintiff was a cabin steward and much of his pay came from tips and thus, sheets and towels were necessary for the performance of his job. The injured crewmember claimed that his fellow crewmember threw him onto a trolley, fracturing his right leg. Reportedly, there were never enough towels to go around the vessel, so the attendants fight to get them. The aggressor was reportedly 6-foot-6 and 280 pounds, against the 5-foot-4, 140 pound plaintiff. Plaintiff's counsel reportedly stated "It was like Shaquille O'Neal throwing a jockey down on the ground"
As a result of his injuries, the plaintiff alleged negligence, unseaworthiness, failure to provide maintenance and cure, and failure to treat. The causes of action arose under the Jones Act, Seaman's Wage Act and the General Maritime Law of the United States. The plaintiff had surgery the next day after the ship reached port, where plates and screws were reportedly implanted into his right leg. The plaintiff was then reportedly sent home to Goa, India, with no compensation as required by law.
Pretrial sanctions struck defense pleadings for an alleged discovery violation involving the scheduling of depositions. Thus, this trial was held on damages only. As a result, the defense has already announced it will pursue an appeal of this decision, as the pretrial sanction put the defendant at an unfair disadvantage.
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