Decision on Foreign Seamen Injured in U.S. Waters

Friday, January 21, 2005
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled that foreign seamen and their representatives must arbitrate their claims in a foreign country in accordance with their employment agreements, despite the fact that the deaths and injuries were incurred while the ship was in a U.S. port. In the instant case, plaintiffs or their decedents were crewmembers on the cruise ship NORWAY. One of the ship’s boilers exploded, killing six and injuring four crewmembers. All crewmembers had signed employment agreements providing that claims for death or personal injury would be arbitrated in the Philippines, where the crewmembers had entered into the agreements. The court held that the arbitration provisions in the employment agreements were enforceable under the United Nations Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards and its U.S. implementing legislation. Bautista v. Star Cruises, No. 03-15884 (11th Cir., January 18, 2005).

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