Sailor sues over safety of pirated Maersk Alabama

Sailor sues over safety of pirated Maersk Alabama

This is a discussion on Sailor sues over safety of pirated Maersk Alabama within the Law Enforcement, Military & Homeland Security Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; Sailor sues over safety of pirated Maersk Alabama By JUAN A. LOZANO, Associated Press Writer 25 mins ago HOUSTON A member of the ...

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Thread: Sailor sues over safety of pirated Maersk Alabama

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    VIP Member Array Blackeagle's Avatar
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    Sailor sues over safety of pirated Maersk Alabama

    Sailor sues over safety of pirated Maersk Alabama

    By JUAN A. LOZANO, Associated Press Writer 25 mins ago
    HOUSTON A member of the crew on the U.S.-flagged ship hijacked by African pirates sued the owner and another company Monday, accusing them of knowingly putting sailors in danger. Richard E. Hicks alleges in the suit that owner Maersk Line Limited and Waterman Steamship Corp., which provided the crew, ignored requests to improve safety measures for vessels sailing along the Somali coast.

    Hicks was chief cook on the Maersk Alabama. Pirates held the ship's captain hostage for five days until the U.S. Navy rescued him.

    Hicks' lawsuit seeks at least $75,000 in damages and improved safety.

    Officials for Norfolk, Va.-based Maersk Line and Mobile, Ala.-based Waterman said their companies don't comment on pending litigation.

    Hicks asked that the two companies improve safety for ships by providing armed security or allowing crew members to carry weapons, sending ships through safer routes, and placing such safety measures on ships as barbed wire that would prevent pirates from being able to board vessels.

    "We've had safety meetings every month for the last three
    years and made suggestions of what should be done and they have been ignored," Hicks said. "I'm just trying to make sure this is a lot better for other seamen."

    Hicks also asked the two companies pay at least $75,000 in damages, saying he doesn't know if he will ever work on a ship again.

    "My family is not looking forward to me going back out to sea. But I'm not sure if I'm going back. I'm still nervous, leery. I might find something else to do, said Hicks, who has worked 32 years as a merchant seaman.

    "We think (the companies) should be more concerned about the personnel on their ships than the profits the companies make," said Terry Bryant, Hicks' attorney.

    Both companies do business in Texas, which is why the suit was filed in Houston, he said.

    Pirates took over the Alabama on April 8 before Capt. Richard Phillips surrendered himself in exchange for the safety of his 19-member crew. The captain was taken on a lifeboat and held hostage for five days before U.S. Navy SEAL snipers on the destroyer USS Bainbridge killed three of his captors and freed him.

    Hicks said crew members have been trained on what to do if pirates or others threaten the ship.

    "We need more than training," said the 53-year-old who lives in Royal Palm Beach, Fla., and has two grown sons. "I never thought nothing like this would ever happen."

    Hicks said pirates had tried to board the ship two other times that week, but the Alabama had managed to outrun them. But on April 8, as Hicks was preparing food for the crew, the ship's alarm rang and the captain announced the ship was being boarded by pirates.

    Hicks and the other crew members went to their designated safety room, which was the engine room, and they waited there for more than 12 hours in 125 degree heat.

    "I didn't know if I was going to live or die," Hicks said.

    The crew managed to take a pirate hostage, wounding him with an ice pick, and attempted to use him to get back Phillips. But the bandits fled the ship with Phillips as their captive, holding him in the lifeboat until the SEAL sharpshooters rescued him.

    "He did a hell of a job saving us," Hicks said of Phillips.

    But Bryant said the Maersk Line and Waterman share the blame for putting the crew at risk.

    "We want to bring more attention to the shipping industry and the dangers in pirate-infested waters," he said.

    Sailor sues over safety of pirated Maersk Alabama


  2. #2
    VIP Member Array dukalmighty's Avatar
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    One thing about working in the US the company has a responsibility to provide a safe non-hostile working environment,they should call osha to write those pirates up
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    I usually hate these types a lawsuits, but this one I think has merit. If nothing else, I hope it will force the hands of these shippers to do something to protect themselves and their assets.
    "Just blame Sixto"

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    Cool

    If we were only able to bring back Thomas Jefferson.
    He wouldn't allow this piracy to continue.



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    I hope he wins. He should. And the companies should be held liable for any harm or duress the crew is put through if they are not doing all they can, including allowing the crew to be armed, to combat the possibility of being taken hostage and killed by pirates.

    And I think it is high time that the Navy gets serious and goes after and simply kills these scum bag pirates.

    In the days of Thomas Jefferson, there was put in place an international act called Hostis Genaris Humani (General Enemies of Humanity) which, was the title conferred upon Pirates in the 18th Century by the English jurist Blackstone. This title is also fitting for Islamic Jihadi's of whatever stripe or flavor. It was again used to describe the NAZI's on trial at Nuremburg.

    The end result was, anyone who wanted to could hunt down and hang from the yard arm, keel haul, or otherwise just kill pirates. This is still in place but we seem to be far to civilized now to do what so obviously needs to be done.

    And, in case anyone forgot (or didn't know) piracy is why we have a continuously operational and active Navy. Originally, we RAISED armies but MAINTAINED a Navy. This was because of the need to combat piracy on a fairly continuous basis. So, let's set the US Navy loose on these little thugs and let them do what they do best, kick butt on the high seas!
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    Senior Member Array BamaSteve's Avatar
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    The problem with arming the crew goes back to possible mutiny doesn't it? I heard something of that a while back. Armed security might be a good option though.
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    IIRC there were some Marines in a place called Tripoli and that had something to do with piracy.

    Maybe our Merchant Ships need the Marines aboard again to protect American commerce? As far as the lawsuit, I hope he wins, as this one has merit from what I know of the situation. I'll admit, I don't know much though.

    IMHO we need to stop being so "civilized" and take care of what needs to be taken care of. I never thought I'd say that Obama did the right thing, but I do believe it was his approval that allowed the Snipers to shoot. In this case he did much better than his democratic predecessors, Jimmy "Peanut Farmer" Carter and William "Slick Willy" Clinton. I do respect him for that.

    I won't vote for him, even if he was the last canidate on earth, but I can at least respect, and agree with this one decision.

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    I don't think that a $75,000 lawsuit is going to change any company's mind. They already prefer to pay 'millions' instead of arming their ships in the first place. OMO

    (I would like to see the shipping companies hand out sniper rifles and offer $75,000 for each 'pirate scalp' taken, but that isn't going to happen either.)
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    Senior Member Array MR D's Avatar
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    the 75k is the minimum to gain federal jurisdiction in the courts (there are other requirements too) I am sure that he is probably asking for lottery type numbers... not a paltry 75k

    IANAL - I did not complete law school...but I do remember some of my "Federal Rules of Civil Procedure" course...


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    75K minimum

    Quote Originally Posted by MR D View Post
    the 75k is the minimum to gain federal jurisdiction in the courts (there are other requirements too) I am sure that he is probably asking for lottery type numbers... not a paltry 75k

    IANAL - I did not complete law school...but I do remember some of my "Federal Rules of Civil Procedure" course...

    You are right. That is the minimum damage needed to get into Federal Court (last I heard a few years back).

    Without seeing the particulars, there is no way to know if this is being done to make money or if it is being done to make a point.

    There is a point to be made. The company knew of the danger, trained for the event, prepared for the event, but did so in an insufficient manner perhaps.

    I don't know if my next comment applies to the specific incident, however I read that some of the companies are refusing to take very simple steps that would make boarding impossible or very difficult such as removing ladders and hanging concertina wire.

    In most other cases the ships are Liberian registry and the crews are Asians and the poor folks have no protection and no one cares what happens to them. Least of all, the shipping company or the insurance company. At least the suit will make it clear that our companies have to take better steps--e.g., hire armed guards, make the vessel difficult if not impossible to board, better coordinate with the Navy vessels in the area, travel in convoys.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackeagle View Post
    "We think (the companies) should be more concerned about the personnel on their ships than the profits the companies make," said Terry Bryant, Hicks' attorney.
    While clearly the purpose of a business is to provide a service/product and make money in the process, GOOD companies also have reasonable concern for the welfare of their employees.

    While no one can prevent ALL risk, there are clearly certain risks that have a higher probability of occurring, and should be planned for.

    A chem plant in AL should have safety procedures for an explosion caused by operator error, improper procedures for using the chemicals, etc. That is reasonable. They stand little chance of having a 747 fall on them. It COULD happen, but statistically very unlikely. To not plan for the first is negligence. To not plan for the second, not so much.

    Ships off Somalia should have reasonable, effective plans for dealing with pirates. Icebergs? I'm guessing not so much.

    My company and I plan for hurricanes in FL, where I live.
    We don't have plans for snow emergencies. Heck, I barely know what snow is.
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    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    Sailor sues now. Why now, of all times? It has been unsafe for a long, long time. If unarmed and blind, it's unsafe. Nearly every ship is that way. $75K in damages ... for what, emotional distress? It won't change a thing.
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    Now, because he was harmed now

    Quote Originally Posted by ccw9mm View Post
    Sailor sues now. Why now, of all times? It has been unsafe for a long, long time. If unarmed and blind, it's unsafe. Nearly every ship is that way. $75K in damages ... for what, emotional distress? It won't change a thing.
    He was harmed now. There was no cause of action before because he had suffered no harm.

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    Ex Member Array United93's Avatar
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    I hope he wins.

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    Distinguished Member Array phreddy's Avatar
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    We keep hearing how they can't arm sailors because of the possibility of mutiny, isn't that a lot like saying we shouldn't have guns because we might rob someone? There are laws against mutiny with very serious penalties. Also, in this day and age companies can do background checks and pyschological tests that would minimize the risk.

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