Key Facts and Highlights of the Maersk Alabama Negligence Lawsuit

As Hollywood continues to promote the blockbuster film Captain Phillips, several members of the real crew of the Maersk Alabama are waging on with their legal battle against the ship’s owners, Waterman Steamship Corporation and Maersk Line, Limited. The ship was attacked by Somalian pirates on April 8, 2009, resulting in severe emotional and physical injuries to the crewmen. Unlike the story of a captain’s heroism that is portrayed in the film, however, the crew asserts that the Defendants knowingly and willingly placed them in danger in an effort save the company money. These crew members filed a negligence lawsuit over two years ago against Waterman and Maersk in Alabama and Texas, and the legal battle continues today.

Interested in learning more about the lawsuit filed by the crew members? The following is an overview of the complaint that was filed in Alabama by crew members Miguel Ruiz, Husain Salah, Mohamed Abdelwaham, Andrew Brzezinski, Mario Clotter, Hector Sanchez, Clifford Lacon, Jimmy Sabga, and Richard Hicks:

  • The Plaintiffs were crew members employed by the Defendants at the time of the pirate attack on the Maersk Alabama.
  • On April 6, 2009, the Defendants were warned to sail a minimum of 600 miles off the coast of Somalia due to known pirate activity in the area.
  • The Defendants and the ship’s captain chose to ignore these warnings, and instead sailed the ship within 250 miles of the Somalian coastline.
  • The Defendants had full knowledge and understanding of the danger the crew was placed in as a result of the decision to sail so close to shore, and willingly and intentionally chose that route in spite of those known dangers.
  • The Defendants did not provide the crew members with a security detail or other means of defending themselves against a pirate attack.
  • The Defendants chose to disregard the safety of the crew of the Maersk Alabama in an effort to increase company profits by choosing this more dangerous, but less expensive, shipping route.

Plaintiffs assert that Defendants’ actions leading up to the pirate attack directly caused their resulting injuries. These acts of negligence and unseaworthiness include:

  • Failing to listen to official warnings about pirates in the area.
  • Intentionally sailing into dangerous waters for their own financial gain.
  • Failing to provide enough security or a safe work environment for crew members.
  • Failing to provide the crew with sufficient warning of the dangerous, unsafe, and unseaworthy conditions they were going to encounter.

In addition, the complaint filed by the Plaintiffs lists several horrific physical and emotional injuries suffered by the Maersk Alabama crew members. These injuries include Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, sleep disorders, severe pain and discomfort, loss of function, and other physical and emotional injuries.

As a result of the Defendants’ disregard for safety, the Plaintiffs further claim that they have suffered significant financial harm. Plaintiffs have incurred medical, hospital, pharmaceutical, and other expenses related to their injuries. They were also unable to return to their jobs as crew members. Unfortunately, these financial losses are likely to continue to grow in the future. To date, the Defendants have not compensated the crew members for these losses.

As part of their Alabama negligence lawsuit against Maersk and Waterman Steamship, the Plaintiffs are requesting punitive damages, reasonable maintenance and cure, compensatory damages, and attorneys’ fees. The experienced Jones Act attorneys at VB Attorneys are helping these crew members fight for the recovery that they deserve. To learn more about the real story behind Captain Phillips, contact our office today at (877) 724-7800.


Brian Beckcom
Highest Possible 10/10 AVVO ranking. Husband. Father. Fisherman.