A Federal appellate circuit court in Atlanta has ruled that a United States crewmember must arbitrate his personal injury claim. This case involved a lead trumpeter who worked for a Miami, Florida based cruise line based aboard a cruise ship whose home port is Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. At the time of the injury, the cruise ship sailed two routes. A Western Caribbean route which called on Haiti, Jamaica and Mexico and an Eastern Caribbean route which called on the United States Virgin Islands, the Bahamas and St. Maarten. No matter which route the cruise ship took, it always began and concluded the voyage in Ft. Lauderdale.
The crewmember brought his personal injury claim against his cruise line employer alleging that it failed to provide him with adequate medical care as required under the Federal Jones Act and the maritime employer’s obligation to provide an injured seaman with medical care. The crewmember allowed alleged the cruise ship was unseaworthy. The cruise line asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit and compel arbitration pursuant to the employment contract which required that all disputes, “be referred to and resolved exclusively by mandatory binding arbitration pursuant to the United Nations Conventions [sic] on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards.” The trial court dismissed the lawsuit in favor of arbitration and the crewmember appealed.