31 Juillet 2008

CRUISE LINES

NCL asked to pay more for deadly boiler blast

 

 

After a 2003 boiler explosion on the SS Norway at the Port of Miami, Norwegian Cruise Line paid more than $13 million to settle civil claims brought by victims.

Now, in the wake of the cruise line's guilty plea to a criminal charge of gross negligence, some victims and their families believe they deserve more.

The blast occurred when a boiler ruptured, releasing 20 tons of 528-degree water that vaporized, scalding to death eight crew members and seriously injuring 10 others. No passengers were hurt.

NCL in May pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of operating the vessel in a ``grossly negligent manner that endangered the lives, limbs and property of the persons on board.''

Victims want U.S. District Judge Federico A. Moreno to award them restitution for past and future lost income. Six injured crew members and the families of six deceased crew members have asked for more than $6 million combined.

NCL opposes the victims' claims, saying the amounts it paid to settle civil claims were meant to cover all claims. Any additional payments would amount to a ''double recovery,'' NCL says in court papers filed last week.

An NCL spokeswoman declined to comment because the case is pending.

''They paid that money to settle civil cases,'' responded Miami lawyer Ross B. Toyne, who represents four injured crew members and the estates of the six who were killed. ``Now in the criminal case, they want that money to serve as restitution.''

In criminal cases, restitution is a penalty imposed on a defendant for harm caused a victim.

Miami attorney Brett Rivkind, who represents two Nicaraguan crewmen, said the victims would have recovered far more from NCL had the cruise line's criminal conduct been known when the civil claims were settled.

NCL maintains that if it has to pay any restitution, monies it paid to settle the civil claims should offset any additional payments. It calculated it should only have to pay $844,000 to 10 victims combined, if it indeed has to pay restitution.

Toyne contends only a small percentage of the proceeds from the settlement of the civil claims should be used to offset restitution. He has calculated his 10 clients should receive almost $5.1 million. Rivkind seeks to recover more than $1 million for his two clients. A hearing is set for Aug. 13.

The size of payments made by NCL to resolve the civil claims varied. The family of a Jamaican crew member who was killed received $7 million, more than half of what NCL paid in settlements to all victims, Toyne said. The 10 Filipino crew members represented by Toyne received about $2.5 million in total. Rivkind's clients received a combined $1.9 million.

The Filipinos filed civil lawsuits against NCL, but a federal judge ruled the cases had to go to arbitration in the Philippines. Victims were only entitled to a $50,000 death benefit plus $15,000 per child under Philippines' laws that regulate overseas employment, Toyne said.

The payments made by NCL to the Filipinos, which ranged from $200,000 to $350,000 per victim, actually were more than what it had to pay under the country's laws. But Toyne believes the cases would have gone to court rather than arbitration if it was known at the time the injuries resulted from criminal behavior. As such, he considers the amounts paltry.

In addition to the amounts it has already paid in the civil claims, NCL wants other payments used to offset any restitution. That includes $157,000 paid to the victims from a relief and memorial fund established by NCL. It said the restitution law mandates all compensation must be considered when considering an application for restitution.

Meanwhile, Toyne also is seeking to recover $181,000 for the Public Health Trust, which governs Jackson Memorial Hospital, and $161,500 for Miami-Dade Fire Rescue for costs associated with tending to the victims after the explosion. The amount Jackson Memorial seeks represents a 20 percent discount it gave NCL for promptly paying for medical services. Toyne is making the request because Jackson and Miami-Dade Fire Rescue were unware the injuries occurred because of criminal conduct.

NCL responded it doesn't owe restitution to either. ''To compensate here as restitution is akin to compensating a law enforcement agency for expenses incurred in apprehending a criminal,'' NCL said in its court filing.

1 Août 2008

CRUISE LINES

NCL asked to pay more for deadly boiler blast

In the wake of Norwegian Cruise Line's guilty plea to negligence in the 2003 explosion on the SS Norway, some want the company to pay more restitution.

PEDRO PORTAL / EL NUEVO HERALD FILE, 2003

Abdi Comedia received $262,500 in settlement from NCL. Comedia now is asking for $476,010 in restitution for lost past and future income. NCL opposes having to pay any restitution. But if it has to pay restitution, NCL says it should be $88,345. Photo was taken at a May 27, 2003 press conference.

After a 2003 boiler explosion on the SS Norway at the Port of Miami, Norwegian Cruise Line paid more than $13 million to settle civil claims brought by victims.

Now, in the wake of the cruise line's guilty plea to a criminal charge of gross negligence, some victims and their families believe they deserve more.

The blast occurred when a boiler ruptured, releasing 20 tons of 528-degree water that vaporized, scalding to death eight crew members and seriously injuring 10 others. No passengers were hurt.

In May, NCL pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of operating the vessel in a ``grossly negligent manner that endangered the lives, limbs and property of the persons on board.''

Victims want U.S. District Judge Federico A. Moreno to award them restitution for past and future lost income. Six injured crew members and the families of six deceased crew members have asked for more than $6 million combined.

NCL opposes the victims' claims, saying the amounts it paid to settle civil claims were meant to cover all claims. Any additional payments would amount to a ''double recovery,'' NCL says in court papers filed last week.

An NCL spokeswoman declined to comment because the case is pending.

''They paid that money to settle civil cases,'' responded Miami lawyer Ross B. Toyne, who represents four injured crew members and the estates of six who were killed. ``Now in the criminal case, they want that money to serve as restitution.''

In criminal cases, restitution is a penalty imposed on a defendant for harm caused a victim.

Miami attorney Brett Rivkind, who represents two Nicaraguan crewmen, said victims would have recovered far more from NCL had the cruise line's criminal conduct been known when the civil claims were settled.

NCL maintains that if it has to pay any restitution, monies it paid to settle the civil claims should offset any additional payments. It calculated it should only have to pay $844,000 to 10 victims combined, if it, indeed, has to pay restitution.

Toyne contends only a small percentage of the proceeds from the settlement of the civil claims should be used to offset restitution. He has calculated his 10 clients should receive almost $5.1 million. Rivkind seeks to recover more than $1 million for his two clients. A hearing is set for Aug. 13.

The size of payments made by NCL to resolve the civil claims varied. The family of a Jamaican crew member who was killed received $7 million, more than half of what NCL paid in settlements to all victims, Toyne said. The 10 Filipino crew members represented by Toyne received about $2.5 million in total. Rivkind's clients received a combined $1.9 million.

The Filipinos filed civil lawsuits against NCL, but a federal judge ruled the cases had to go to arbitration in the Philippines. Victims were only entitled to a $50,000 death benefit plus $15,000 per child under Philippines' laws that regulate overseas employment, Toyne said.

The payments made by NCL to the Filipinos, which ranged from $200,000 to $350,000 per victim, actually were more than what it had to pay under the country's laws. But Toyne believes the cases would have gone to court rather than arbitration if it was known at the time the injuries resulted from criminal behavior. As such, he considers the amounts paltry.

In addition to the amounts it has already paid in the civil claims, NCL wants other payments used to offset any restitution. That includes $157,000 paid to the victims from a relief and memorial fund established by NCL. It said the restitution law mandates all compensation must be considered when considering an application for restitution.

Meanwhile, Toyne also is seeking to recover $181,000 for the Public Health Trust, which governs Jackson Memorial Hospital, and $161,500 for Miami-Dade Fire Rescue for costs associated with tending to the victims after the explosion. The amount Jackson Memorial seeks represents a 20 percent discount it gave NCL for promptly paying for medical services. Toyne is making the request because Jackson and Fire Rescue were unware the injuries occurred because of criminal conduct.

NCL responded it doesn't owe restitution to either.

''To compensate here as restitution is akin to compensating a law-enforcement agency for expenses incurred in apprehending a criminal,'' NCL said in its court filing.


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