The Florida maritime and cruise injury and assault attorneys of Brais Brais Rusak have been retained to represent a female minor passenger in a claim against Holland America (“HAL”) who alleges she was violently sexually assaulted and raped on board Holland America’s Veendam cruise ship by a crew member on January 15, 2017. The Brais Law Firm, with the help of local Seattle counsel Charles Moure filed suit on behalf of the minor child on December 13, 2017. The brutal details of the sexual assault and rape are detailed in the Complaint.

The fifteen-year-old child, her grandmother and a cousin boarded the vessel on January 4, 2017 for a two-week cruise. During the cruise, the child and her family became acquainted with Gede Sukrantara, a twenty-six year old waiter from Bali, Indonesia who would often make small talk with the group when they would visit the Lido deck.

Throughout the cruise, the child participated in the CLUB HAL YOUTH PROGRAM, which is advertised by Holland America as its youth activities program, offering “an array of entertaining events for kids and teens ages 3-17, supervised by a full-time, professionally trained staff.”  Holland America represents that “safety is [its] primary concern and policies are in place for effective supervision.” Our client participated in the CLUB HAL YOUTH PROGRAM often under the supervision of the same female youth staff member.

During the cruise and prior to the sexual assault and rape, the child reported to a youth staff member, while in the presence of another Holland America crew member, that a Lido crew member was being flirtatious with her and inquiring about her age. The Complaint alleges that rather than report the crew member to supervisors or act to protect the minor child, who was obviously uncomfortable with the crew member’s behavior, the youth staff member told the child to tell the “flirtatious” crew member that she was 13 years-old. The minor child was told to understate her age in an apparent effort to dissuade the Holland American crew member from making further inappropriate advances and leave her alone.

According to the Complaint, the next night, on January 15, 2017, the child participated in a CLUB HAL YOUTH PROGRAM event. After the event ended, the child went to the Lido deck for a snack. While at the Lido deck, SUKRANTARA began to make small talk with the minor.  After some time, she left the Lido deck and headed to the Sky Deck. On her way to the Sky Deck, she stopped at a restroom designated for women located near the CLUB HAL area. Unbeknownst to her, SUKRANTARA followed her to the women’s restroom. As the restroom door was closing the HAL crew member pushed on the door and forced his way in, locking the door after him.  In the restroom, SUKRANTARA pushed the young girl against the wall. She yelled at him to get off her, to get out of the restroom and to leave her alone. SUKRANTARA refused and continued his assault.  SUKRANTARA then threatened to tell everyone that it was her idea and that she was “easy to get” if she did not stop yelling. SUKRANTARA then started to forcefully kiss the minor and touch her body under her clothing. The young locked up her body, refusing to allow SUKRANTARA to touch her private parts. SUKRANTARA removed his shirt as he pinned her against the wall. He then continued with his attempts to kiss her and rubbed his hands over her body. The child repeatedly told him to get off her, to stop and that she did not want to engage in any sexual activity with him. The Complaint alleges SUKRANTARA then asked her to take him to her stateroom. The minor refused again asking if she could leave. SUKRANTARA then tried to push her over the toilet in an attempt to vaginally penetrate her with his penis. The child yelled “no” and tried unsuccessfully to escape the restroom. SUKRANTARA once again pushed her against the wall and then tried to push her to the ground while she resisted. In the ensuing struggle, SUKRANTARA succeeded in positioning her in the corner of the restroom and while there forced her mouth open whereupon he inserted his penis inside her mouth.  The child attempted several times to get up but he kept pushing her down. After minutes, SUKRANTARA ejaculated into the child’s mouth and onto her face and clothing. Continue reading Florida Jet Ski accident attorneys handle many different types of personal watercraft injury cases. These cases range from negligently conducted Jet Ski tours to improper personal watercraft design. In this case, we represent a person who was injured while operating a Jet Ski in Biscayne Bay off Miami Beach. While our client was operating the Jet Ski, a yacht producing a large wake crossed in front of the personal watercraft. Our client’s Jet Ski struck the wake causing it to lurch up striking him in the face and shoulder. This accident caused significant personal injuries to his face, neck, arm and hand. He was taken to an area hospital and was admitted for three days.

After our client’s medical condition plateaued, our Florida Jet Ski accident attorneys filed a lawsuit against the yacht captain alleging a negligence count for unsafe boat operation and a negligence per se count for violating various navigational rules including failure to keep a lookout and maintain a safe speed. Negligence and negligence per se are different legal theories. To prove a negligence claim, the injured Jet Ski victim must show that the yacht captain acted in a way that a reasonably prudent captain would not have acted and such negligent acts were the cause of the Jet Ski accident. To prove a negligence per se claim, the Jet Ski victim must prove that the yacht captain violated a safety statute designed to protect the Jet Ski victim from harm. A negligence per se claim based upon failing to comply with a safety statute under maritime law, if proven, carries the presumption that the violator is a fault for the jet ski accident. This presumption is only rebutted by showing that the violation could not have been a cause of the Jet Ski accident. This is an extremely hard presumption to overcome.

The yacht captain filed a motion to dismiss the negligence per se claim arguing that it should have been commingled within the negligence count. The Court held in our favor finding that different legal elements must be proven to establish a negligence per se claim than that of a simple negligence claim. Based upon the legal finding, the Court held that it was proper to allege the two theories of liability in different counts and denied the yacht captain’s motion to dismiss.

Florida-Personal-Watercraft-Injury-ReleaseOur Florida personal watercraft injury lawyers were recently successful in convincing a court that a release was legally insufficient and, therefore, unenforceable.

Facts of the Case

Our client and her boyfriend were staying at the Hawk’s Cay Resort located on Duck Key in the Florida Keys.  During their stay, the couple wanted to rent a motor boat and go to one of the mangrove islands to have a romantic picnic. The resort has a marina and an on-site boat rental building. The person at the rental window told the couple that he would not rent them the motor boat due to their inexperience calling them “landlubbers” and suggested they rent canoes at the nearby Long Key Florida State Park.  The couple decided to go back to their room to figure out the location of the State Park that rents canoes.  Given the late hour of the day, they thought it was too late to rent the canoes and instead decided to “do the Jet Ski thing.” The boyfriend called the rental window to see if they could rent personal watercrafts and was told to come down right away.  They went back to the rental window, paid to participate in a guided tour and were given an activity release to sign.  They signed the release and began the tour.  The tour guide lead the couple under the Toms Harbor Cut Bridges to the Gulf of Mexico side of U.S. 1, around a mangrove island and then towards the Toms Harbor Channel Bridges just west of the Toms Harbor Cut Bridges. There are two bridges at Toms Harbor Channel.  One with vertical supports providing a wide passageway (newer bridge).  The second bridge is made up of arch supports providing a much narrower passageway (older bridge).   Before going under the Toms Harbor Channel Bridges and moments before the accident, the tour guide instructed the couple to follow him and to go fast.   While following the tour guide as instructed, our client lost control of the personal watercraft and collided with a concrete arch of the second Toms Harbor Channel Bridge.  The impact caused our client to suffer sever physical as well as a traumatic brain injury.

lifeguard-20343192-300x200Earlier this year, Royal Caribbean announced its implementation of a new water safety program fleet wide starting with Oasis of the Seas.  The program includes stationing of lifeguards trained by StarGuard Elite at every pool including Solarium, the adult-only area.  RCL will also offer a 15-minute water safety presentation during the embarkation-day open house session for its youth program, Adventure Ocean.

Additionally, the new program will include the introduction of water safety instruction signs throughout the ships, which include signage around pool areas and cabins encouraging parents to use the life jackets made available to children ages 4-12 since late 2015.

Amid mounting pressure, Norwegian Cruise Line announced last week its decision to hire lifeguards to its four largest ships—Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Epic by summer, 2017.  Norwegian expects to add lifeguards fleetwide by March, 2018.

The Florida personal watercraft accident attorneys of Brais Brais Rusak have recently brought a lawsuit against a Miami area rental and tour company for negligent conduction of a WaveRunner Tour.  The facts surrounding this case involved a couple from New Jersey vacationing in South Florida.  They decided to take a Biscayne Bay personal watercraft tour and purchased such a tour from one of the many companies operating at the Bayside Marina.  After paying for the tour, the couple were directed the WaveRunners to start the guided tour.   Once on the water, it became apparent that the weather was deteriorating and the waves began to become larger and larger.  Though the bay waters were turning rough, the tour guide not only kept taking the couple out farther but started to separate himself from the couple riding behind.  In fear of getting left behind, the couple attempted to catch up to their tour guide.  While attempting to catch up, the WaveRunner struck a wave causing the wife to separate from the craft then slam back down on it.

The impact resulted in a fractured patella and torn meniscus.  The patella, more commonly known as the knee cap, is the triangular bone which protect the surface of the knee joint.  A meniscus is a piece of cartilage that cushions the knee which prevents the femur and tibia from rubbing against each other.  The wife underwent surgery for her injuries.

Court papers assert that the guide failed to provide the statutory required instruction before beginning the tour and failed to conduct the tour in a reasonably safe manner.  Under maritime law, a company that provides personal watercraft tours must follow statutory requirements including specific safety briefings before allowing their customers on the water.  Furthermore, the tour operator must provide a tour which is reasonably safe.  The lawsuit claims that the tour guide’s decision to take the couple in exposed waters of Biscayne Bay during rough weather coupled with the fact that he separated from the group fell below minimum legal standards.  The case is currently pending before the Eleventh Judicial Circuit in and for Miami-Dade County.

Miami-Finger-Injury-LawOur Miami personal injury attorneys are currently representing a college student who was severely injured when a kinetic horse sculpture’s head rotated down on his right middle finger pitching it between the sculpture’s head and neck.  On April 4, 2014, our client, his mother and cousin was visiting the Kenneth Meyers Park located in the Coconut Grove section of Miami.  It was the first time they visited the park.  Near the front of the park stood two brightly colored animal sculptures created by Fredrick Prescott.  One was of a giraffe and the other the horse.  Our client’s cousin, who is fond of giraffes, wanted to get closer have her photo taken with the sculpture.  Since there were no signs stating not to touch the sculptures or any barrier erected around the sculptures, the family thought it was safe to touch the sculptures who having their pictures taken.  While the cousin was interacting with the giraffe, our client’s mother suggested that he imitate petting the horse for a photograph.  As our client reached up and placed his hand on the bottom of the horse’s head, the head swung down pinching his middle finger against the horse’s neck.  The scissoring action of the horse’s head with the neck severed a portion of the young man’s right middle finger.

It was later discovered that the two animals were kinetic sculptures whose heads were designed to sway in the wind.  Unfortunately, on the day of the incident, there was no wind and the heads remained static until our client touched the underside of the horse’s head.  Given there was no warning signs or barriers, the family was unaware that the heads of the sculptures moved.

Our law firm brought a lawsuit against artist who designed and assembled the sculpture alleging he was negligent for failing to incorporate finger guards or at least providing labels on the sculptures warning people that parts move and to not touch the sculptures.  We also brought a lawsuit against the City of Miami alleging it was negligent for failing to place warning signs or barriers to access so that a reasonable person would know not to touch the sculpture.  The artist and City responded to the lawsuit denying their negligence and asserting, among other things, that they should not be held liable because the hazard was open and obvious.

Carinval-Cruise-Club-O2The Florida maritime lawyers of Brais Brais Rusak have been retained to represent a female minor passenger who was allegedly sexually assaulted and raped on board the Carnival Breeze on October 3, 2015.  The incident occurred when the child left the cruise ship’s Club O2 teen lounge and upon heading to a nearby elevator was surrounded by five adult men who forced her into the elevator, down a ship’s hallway and into a cabin of one of the men.  The men were able to target the child as their victim because Carnival failed to keep the unrelated men out of the Club O2 lounge earlier in the cruise.  On at least one occasion the men were told to leave of the Club O2 lounge, but by then it was too late and they simply waited outside the Club O2 lounge until their unsuspecting victim left the teen club.

The Club O2 lounge is advertised as a dedicated lounge aboard Carnival ships for children ages 15 to 17 to “hang out and do stuff like watch movies, listed to music from this decade, play sports and video games, join karaoke jam sessions . . . maybe even have a pool party or two, all with other high schoolers ages of 15 to 17.”  Carnival states on its website, that Club O2 is designed specifically for 15-17-year-olds, which means no kids and no adults.  It is further described as a safe and comfortable environment for teen cruise passengers.  Carnival notes that “as legal adults, 18-year-olds are not permitted to participate in or use the Club O2 facilities or any other Youth Program facilities.”

Based on the above description, parents, like our clients, reasonably believe that Carnival has in place measures to keep out persons not supposed to be in the Club O2 lounge. At the very least, parents believe that Carnival has a person at the door of the lounge confirming the ages of the guests attempting to enter the lounge and that they are there for legitimate purposes.

Florida_Tug_Boat_Accident_Law-188x300The Florida maritime lawyers of Brais Brais Rusak successfully obtained an Order dismissing a counter-claim brought against their client by a tug and barge company.

On March 9, 2016, the firm’s clients were fishing in the Indian River when their boat’s outboard engine broke down.  The two men were able to navigate the disable fishing boat along the shore next to the Beyel Bros.’ tug and barge facility located in Ft. Pierce, Florida.   Beyel Bros. dispatched a small Jon Boat to tow the disabled fishing boat away from its facility and to a nearby boat ramp.  While in the process of towing, a Beyel Bros. tugboat backed down on and collide with the fishing boat.  The collision caused firm’s clients to be ejected into the water and the boat to overturn.  The men suffered personal injures as a result of the boating accident.

Brais Brais Rusak filed a lawsuit in a Florida Federal court alleging the tug and barge company’s employees were negligent by towing the fishing boat in the path of the backing down tug as well as the failing to keep a lookout posted on the tug to observe the fishing boat under tow.  The tug company filed a counter-claim against the fishing boat’s owner for what is known contribution.  A contribution claim is a legal theory where a defendant may seek re-payment against a contributing tortfeasors for the amount paid in damages beyond the percentage of fault attributed against the defendant in causing the accident.   In order to be successful, the Defendant must show that the injured party’s harm emanated, at least in part, from a duty that the would-be contributor breached.

Cruise-Pool-Drowing.jpgThe Florida Board Certified Maritime Attorneys of Brais Brais Rusak have been retained by the family of a child who died from complications caused by a near drowning incident aboard Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas cruise ship. We are honored to have the opportunity to help this family in their time of need.

The incident occurred on June 30, 2016 as the Anthem of the Seas was leaving the Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, New Jersey. The child, along with his brother and other children, entered into the children’s pool located in the H20 Zone on the 14th deck. A cruise ship attendant was posted within the H20 zone and appeared to be looking after the children. Though there was a cruise ship attendant in the area, the child was allowed to take off his life jacket, leave the children’s area and enter the much deeper main pool. The child, who could not swim, sank to the bottom and was underwater for an estimated eight to ten minutes. He was removed from the water and shipboard medical staff preformed resuscitation efforts. A pulse was established and the child was medevaced by the Coast Guard to Staten Island University Hospital in New York. Tragically, the boy died two days later.
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WaveRunner-Accident-Miami.jpgOur Florida Board Certified Admiralty & Maritime lawyers have brought a lawsuit against a Miami Beach WaveRunner rental company for its violation of boating safety laws which contributed to our client’s injuries. The complaint filed in Federal court alleges that our client was a part of a group of people who rented a yacht along with WaveRunners from the concessionaire. The concessionaire supplied the yacht captain. During the course of the day, the yacht passengers took turns operating the WaveRunners. Our client was given no training on how to properly operate the personal watercraft. The yacht captain had a practice of operating the yacht in close proximity to the people riding the WaveRunners. The yacht, given its size, produced a significant wake. While our client was operating the WaveRunner, the yacht gave off a wake that was parallel to the path our client was heading. Having little of no time to maneuver away from the wake, our client hit the wake causing him to be thrown into the air and land hard onto the personal watercraft.
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