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Showing posts from October, 2013

Maritime Law--MLC Detentions Continue: Are You Ready?

As I have been blogging for the last year, the Maritime Labor Convention ("MLC") came into force internationally on August 20, 2013. Within two weeks, the first vessels were detained for non-compliance. On September 3rd during a port state inspection of the Liberia-flagged offshore supply vessel ATLANTIC CARRIER, the Danish Maritime Authority observed that the crew had employment contracts that were not MLC compliant. The vessel was detained for 24 hours while the issues were corrected and she was then permitted to leave port and continue her operations in the North Sea. ATLANTIC CARRIER: picture provided courtesy of Maritime Executive magazine Around the same time period, LIA M was detained in Canada. The crew complaints included unpaid wages; a collective bargaining agreement that failed to list the vessel's name, a date or a wage scale; crew with no money, no shampoo, toothpaste or other items; a crew member who had twice been refused access to a doctor; and crew members…

Maritime Law-Chasing Whistleblower Bounties

In August, I spoke to the North American Maritime Ministries Association on the topic of Legal Issues Affecting Seafarers and Ship Operators in Whistleblower Scenarios. You can read more about NAMMA here => NAMMA. Since this presentation, I have been asked to opine on other sorts of whistleblower scenarios. I recently noted that the Securities and Exchange Commission has just obtained a record $14 million whistleblower bounty for an in-house counsel whistleblower against his own company, which certainly may have some in-house counsel wondering if they should squeal on their clients. 

The Corporate Counsel magazine on October 14th cites a growing number of in-house counsel and compliance officers filing whistleblower-related claims against their own companies. I find this a disturbing trend, as these cases present a host of issues not present in an ordinary whistleblower claim, such as the plaintiff’s use of privileged communications, attorney work product, and confidential client i…

Maritime Law-What you need to know about the MLC

Given my work on the subject, the Professional Mariner magazine had me guest blog an article on the Maritime Labor Convention ("MLC"). It was incidentally posted on August 20, 2013, the implementation date for the MLC. You can find the complete article here => Professional Mariner Magazine.

I continue to be barraged by questions related to applicability of the MLC in given scenarios. The answer is simple, the MLC will apply to ships of all tonnages, whether publicly or privately owned, which are “ordinarily engaged in commercial activities.” The MLC does not provide a definition for what constitutes this quoted language and there has been some debate in yachting circles as to whether yachts are included. Some flag states have been publishing their narrow interpretation of this language as a way to encourage these vessel owners to change flags. However, this interpretation is not an answer to the “no more favorable treatment” clause which is a principle of the MLC.

So in o…

Maritime Law-Busy Week With New Decisions on Punies, Time Bars and Penalty Wages

This week bring us 3 new decisions which touch on the following issues in this order: punitive damages for unseaworthy vessels, time bars in salvage actions and penalty wages.

The first case is McBride v. Estis Well Service LLC, No. 13-30714 (5th Cir. Oct. 2, 2013). This case arose out of an accident aboard ESTIS RIG 23, a barge supporting a truck-mounted drilling rig. The principal issue was whether seamen could recover punitive damages for their employer's willful and wanton breach of the general maritime law duty to provide a seaworthy vessel. Like the doctrines of maintenance and cure, unseaworthiness was established as a general maritime law right before the passage of the Jones Act. Therefore, the Court reasoned that as punitive damages were available under the general maritime law and the Jones Act did not address unseaworthiness or limit its remedies, the court accordingly reversed and remanded, concluding that punitive damages remained available as a remedy for the genera…

Maritime Law--Boat Captain Sentenced in Fatal Parasailing Accident

The Virgin Islands Daily News reports that a U.S. Virgin Islands boat captain charged with causing the death of a woman killed while parasailing has been sentenced to 6-months of house arrest. The captain was also order to serve 1-year of supervised release, pay $1.4 million in restitution (along with the parasailing company) to the victims and perform 150 community service hours with the U.S. Coast Guard.

Police report that the captain took Bernice Kraftcheck and her daughter on a parasailing tour in 2011 amid heavy winds. The tow line broke, causing the women to fall into the water. The women were still reportedly attached to the parasail, killing Kraftcheck and seriously injuring her daughter. The captain pleaded guilty to operating the boat in a negligent manner and the parasailing company pleaded no contest to misconduct or neglect of a ship owner.

A complete copy of the article can be found here => Virgin Islands Daily News.

The new U.S. Coast Guard Captain of the Port for t…