While this blog tends to focus on cruise injury claims involving passengers, seamen employees also can pursue personal injury claims while working aboard a cruise ship. While the language of the passenger ticket contract is used to curtail the rights of guests and tip the scales of justice toward the cruise company, certain provisions in crew member employment contracts achieve the same objective toward seamen on cruise ships. In this blog, our experienced cruise ship injury lawyers analyze a recent court decision that addresses the right of crew members on cruise lines to seek remedies in the U.S. Federal Court System despite a conflicting arbitration clause in the crew member’s employment contract.
The arbitration clause in the case presents a common scenario for many seamen employed on cruise lines because it required that legal claims between the employee and the cruise line be litigated in a foreign location under foreign law. Cruise lines rely on a treaty referred to as the New York Convention on the Enforcement of Foreign Arbitration Awards. This treaty authorizes cruise lines to force employees to submit personal injury claims to arbitration when a written contract contemplates foreign performance or litigation between citizens of two different states. However, the treaty indicates that a court of competent jurisdiction can determine if the arbitrator’s decision is unenforceable based on public policy. Continue reading →