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Maritime Law Archives | Farah & Farah


By Farah & Farah on May 3, 2017

When El Faro, a commercial shipping vessel, left Jacksonville heading to San Juan, Puerto Rico on September 30, 2015, no one knew it would never return.

The El Faro drove into the path of Hurricane Joaquin and sank in the Bermuda Triangle taking with it 33 crew members. There were no survivors. 

When the storm swerved, the ship had no recourse and could not escape its 130 mile per hour winds. El Faro lost propulsion and power leaving it at the mercy of Mother Nature, like a cork in the sea.

Its final resting place is 15,000 feet at the bottom the ocean. 

The wife of one of the crew members has turned her grief into action.

Rochelle Hamm wants to make sure this doesn’t happen to any other vessel and crew.

Ms. Hamm is calling for the stricter regulation of maritime vessels.

She calls it the Hamm ALERT, named for her husband, Frank, who was lost at sea. 

In her Change.org petition, she asks Congress to give oversight to an impartial third party so one captain’s bad decision can be overridden.

El Faro left port as storm Hurricane Joaquin was building to a Category 3 storm.   

Ms. Hamm says the ship should never have left port and a third party could have determined the potential for harm at sea, not unlike an air traffic controller oversees safety in our nation’s skies.   

Her petition requires all commercial vessels to have Coast Guard-approved enclosed lifeboats and survival supplies. On El Faro, the lifeboats were antiquated, open and subject to the winds and waves. 

The 500-page transcript released by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), tells the story of the ship’s final hours. The crew members openly questioned the captain’s decision to try and outrun the storm.

Frank Hamm’s last words. “I’m goin’ down!” he cries as his feet slip underneath him.

“I’m a goner.”

Mrs. Hamm’s mission has taken her to visit Florida Senators Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson. So far she has more than 11,000 signatures supporting the Hamm ALERT which will be included in recommendations by the NTSB and U.S. Coast Guard. 

Recently, her husband’s helmet washed ashore on a Florida beach.

Ms. Hamm carries the green helmet that says “Frank,” that compels her to complete this mission, turning her pain into a purpose with power.

Posted in: Maritime Law

Missing Jacksonville Cargo Ship Sank in Hurricane Joaquin

By on October 5, 2015

The cargo ship El Faro left Jacksonville on September 29 for a routine trip to Puerto Rico, carrying nearly 400 shipping containers and another 300 automobile trailers. Two days later, contact with the ship was lost as Hurricane Joaquin slammed the Caribbean with winds over 130 mph. In the last communication from the ship, the crew reported that El Faro was taking on water and tilted 15 degrees, but that the situation was still “manageable.” When the ship set sail, Joaquin was still just a tropical storm. Read the rest »

Posted in: Maritime Law

Carnival Corp. Changes Its Tack, Says It Will Repay Government For Rescues

By on April 19, 2013

Florida Cruise Government ReimbursementSenator Jay Rockefeller (D-WVA) was less than thrilled with the response he received to a letter that he sent to global cruise company Carnival Corporation. Rockefeller asked if Carnival was planning to reimburse some $4.2 million the Coast Guard and Navy spent rescuing the crippled Carnival Triumph in February and the Carnival Splendor in 2010.

Carnival’s senior vice president of corporate maritime policy penned an answer that vaguely insinuated that the cruise line giant had no obligation to pay for the rescue operations. “Carnival’s policy is to honor maritime tradition that holds that the duty to render assistance at sea to those in need is a universal obligation of the entire maritime community, “ he wrote. Read the rest »

100 Cruise Passengers Sickened by Stomach Virus

By on February 14, 2012

A stomach virus sickened nearly 100 passengers on a Princess Cruise Line that docked in Miami where another ship contained passengers who also complained of gastrointestinal illness. In all, TBO.com reports 92 passengers and 13 crew on the Ruby Princess were affected by stomach pain, diarrhea, and vomiting. The ship returned to South Florida on Sunday, February 5. The Crown Princess arrived at the dock Saturday, February 4 at Port Everglades. The passenger sicknesses are not believed to be related. As is customary, the ships must be disinfected in the cabins and public areas before they can embark again.

Florida has more cruise terminals than any other state, all of which accommodate millions of passengers who embark for a cruise every year. Passengers should read closely the fine print on the back of the ticket to understand their rights. Experience an injury on a cruise ship, such as a premises liability or slip and fall, and the passenger may find that the cruise operator can avoid liability and accountability. The major cruise operators are registered to foreign countries and therefore do not have to abide by U.S. regulations. Doctors are not employees of the cruise ship, so it is recommended to buy additional insurance in case you have a medical mishap onboard and want to seek medical attention back in the U.S. Read the rest »

Teen Loses Part of Leg in Lakeland Jet Ski Accident

By on April 29, 2011

Easter Sunday, April 24, a 14-year-old teenager’s leg was partially amputated during a jet ski accident on Lake Gibson in Lakeland. Bay News 9 reports two teenage girls, ages 14 and 15, were on WaveRunners driving side by side when one of the teens turned into the side of the other watercraft and right over the seat section, amputating a portion of the rider’s leg below the knee. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) responded to the scene of Lake Gibson and said it happened around 2:30 p.m. about 150 yards offshore.

Our condolences go out to the young girl for this tragic accident. Read the rest »

Refund For Cruise Passengers After AG Lawsuit

By Eddie Farah on November 6, 2008

Passengers traveling on one cruise line have a refund coming thanks to Florida’s Attorney General.

Bill McCollum filed a lawsuit this week against Imperial Majesty Cruise Line. The company is alleged to have added a fuel surcharge of $20 to $30 secretly onto customers’ bills. Most people thought these were government fees.

Many customers complained to the AG office alerting him to the practice. Customers said they had no idea they would be asked to fork over extra money until their arrived for their cruise. Read the rest »

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The attorneys of Farah & Farah in Jacksonville, Florida have experience with personal injury, medical malpractice, product liability, workers’ compensation, social security, injury and negligence lawsuits. Eddie Farah and our team of Jacksonville attorneys are proud to represent working people and families throughout the country.

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