CORAL GABLES, Fla. (Sept. 16, 2013) –A Miami-Dade Jury recently awarded plaintiff Vicente Fernandes $2.5 million in compensatory damages in a lawsuit against Celebrity Cruises asserting negligence, including failure to provide a safe environment and failure to provide adequate care, among other allegations arising under the Jones Act, Seaman Wage Act, and the General Maritime Law of the United States. The jury additionally awarded $50,000 in attorney fees as part of the damages.
Fernandes, 46, was working onboard the Celebrity-controlled vessel, Century, on Sept. 25, 2009, as an assistant stateroom attendant when he was viciously attacked by another crewmember while attempting to obtain towels from the linen keeper. There was shortage of linens onboard causing stateroom attendants to compete for the necessary linens before they ran out in order to properly carry-out their job duties. When Fernandes asked for more towels the linen keeper became upset and started verbally and physically abusing Fernandes resulting in a serious leg fracture that required immediate surgery with plates and screws. Due to the severity of the injury, Fernandes had to have surgery in Spain the next day while the ship was at port.
Fernandes, who worked for Celebrity Cruises for eight years, originally sued the company in 2011 in civil court in Miami Dade County on five counts including Jones Act negligence, unseaworthiness, failure to provide maintenance and cure, failure to treat and violations of the Seaman’s Wage Act.
According to the complaint, Celebrity sent Fernandes home following an initial surgery without maintenance (compensation for shelter and food) and cure (compensation for medical care, surgeries, therapy, medication, etc.) further aggravating his injury and causing additional pain and disability. As a result, Fernandes has a deformed right leg, cannot run or play sports, cannot assist his bedridden mother, cannot walk without taking breaks, and is in constant pain. He also requires several additional surgeries.
“Mr. Fernandes has suffered severely as a result of Celebrity’s negligence and recklessness, said attorney Ervin A. Gonzalez, partner at Coral Gables-based law firm Colson Hicks Eidson and counsel for Fernandes. “This type of conduct cannot be tolerated and this verdict recognizes that. It hopefully sends a message to large employers about the wellbeing of their employees and will further enhance the safety of hardworking individuals.”
The jury deliberated for three days and delivered the verdict on Friday, Sept. 13, 2013 in the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court, Civil Division with Judge David C. Miller presiding. Fernandes was also represented by attorney Christopher Drury of Colson Hicks Eidson and Tonya Meister of Meister Law, LLC. The defendant, Celebrity Cruises, was represented by David Horr, Esq. and Eduardo Hernandez, Esq., with the law firm of Horr, Novak & Skipp, P.A.