Arbitration Agreement Signed by Princess Cruise Lines Crewmember Keeps Her Jones Act Claim Out of Court

In yesterday’s post, we discussed binding arbitration clauses, exploring how corporations essentially use them as do-it-yourself tort reform to prevent class actions and to keep individual claims out of the courtroom. Many cruise lines include arbitration agreements in their employment contracts. In September, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling involving an arbitration agreement by Princess Cruise Lines.

In Doe v. Princess Cruise Lines, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals considered a district court ruling that denied the cruise line’s motion to compel arbitration. The plaintiff is a female crewmember who alleges fellow crewmembers drugged and raped her, further alleging her employer denied her appropriate treatment and interrogated and harassed her. The appeals court determined five of the plaintiff’s ten claims — those asserted under general tort law — fall outside the scope of the arbitration agreement, affirming part of the district court’s ruling.

However, the appeals court also reversed part of the lower court’s decision. It concluded the other five claims — those brought under the Jones Act, the Seaman’s Wage Act, and general maritime law, which, according to the court, arise from the plaintiff’s status as a seaman and would not be available to a passenger who suffered similar harm — are in fact subject to the arbitration agreement. The recent court decision means the plaintiff’s Jones Act claims will be decided not by a judge, but by an arbitrator.

Need to know how an arbitration agreement you signed might affect your Jones Act claim? A qualified Boston Jones Act attorney can review your case and work to protect your rights.

Latti & Anderson LLP – Boston Jones Act lawyers