Recently released blockbuster film Captain Phillips, starring Hollywood heavyweight Tom Hanks, has captured the attention of the nation. While the film portrays the actions of Captain Phillips as that of a hero, the actual crew of the Maersk Alabama tells a very different story. Several of these crew members are currently engaged in a legal battle with the ship’s owners, Waterman Steamship Corporation and Maersk Line, Limited. Details of the complaint filed in the District Court of Harris County, Texas, are as follows:
- The complainants in the “Captain Phillips” lawsuit in Texas are Maersk Alabama crew members Miguel Ruiz, Husain Salah, Mohamed Abdelwaham, Andrew Brzezinski, Mario Clotter, and Hector Sanchez.
- The crew members were taken hostage and held prisoner in the engine room of the ship by Somalian pirates on April 8, 2009.
- The Defendants, Waterman Steamship and Maersk Line, knew that the route the ship was taking was highly dangerous. Defendants received specific warnings not to sail the ship within 600 miles off the coast of Somalia. Despite this knowledge, Defendants instructed, approved, or consented for the ship to travel approximately 250 miles off the coast, placing the crew members in grave danger.
- The Defendants had control and supervision over all aspects of the ship, its equipment, and the performance of its duties.
- The Defendants opted for the ship to travel on this dangerous route because it benefitted them financially to do so.
- As a direct result of being placed in harm’s way by the Defendants, the crew members suffered serious physical, emotional, and financial harm.
The crew members are bringing their “Captain Phillips” lawsuit in Texas citing the Jones Act, maritime law, and general common law. They assert that the Defendants acted negligently by knowingly placing them in danger. As the employers of the crew members, the Defendants had a duty to protect their employees, which they failed to do. The crew members further argue that the Maersk Alabama was unseaworthy at the time of the attack. The Defendants had an obligation to provide the crew with a safe work environment. The ship, which lacked sufficient safety equipment or adequate security, was clearly not a safe place, as demonstrated by the horrific pirate attack that occurred.
Following the pirate attack, the Defendants have willfully refused to provide the crew members with the financial compensation that they are entitled to. As a result, crew members are now seeking maintenance and cure, interest, and other damages from the Defendants. To learn more about this lawsuit and other maritime offenses, contact the experienced Texas Jones Act attorneys at VB Attorneys.