Landmark Cases

Members of the maritime law firm of Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. have successfully presented and argued a number of landmark cases. Most of them are in the area of admiralty and maritime law and deal with claims by passengers or seafarers.

What is a Landmark Case?

A landmark case or court decision is one in which new precedents are established, a new or substantially new legal principle is introduced or the law itself is substantively changed. Such a decision may signal the start of a shift in the law that can have broad and significant impact on future cases.

Handling a landmark case is challenging for cruise ship lawyers because it represents an attempt to “make new law” or to change existing laws. Courts are not legislative bodies and do not favor changing established trends or interpretations of the law. Courts are bound by a legal principle called, “stare decisis,” which is Latin for “to let the decision stand.” Judges are obliged to respect the precedent, or the legal message, of prior decisions.

Landmark case decisions are extremely rare and most law firms are lucky to have been involved in even one landmark case. They primarily occur at high level courts of appeals when appeals of legal matters from lower courts have reached conflicting or inconsistent conclusions. Landmark cases are rare in maritime law, because this area of the law is well-established and derives its roots in the English common law of the sea. Many principles or maritime law have been established for hundreds of years.

Landmark Cases

  1.  

    First Asbestos Trial Against Cruise Line Yields $3.6 Million Awarded to Estate of Shipboard Electrician

    Landmark Cases


    CARAFFA v. CARNIVAL CORPORATION, Case No. 06-00964 CA 42 (11th Judicial Circuit in and for Miami-Dade County, Florida)



    PROCEDURAL POSTURE: Estate of deceased Italian shipboard electrician sued Carnival in Circuit Court in and for Miami-Dade County Florida.  Trial 12/3/14 – 12/16/14 before Judge Jacqueline Hogan Scola.



    OVERVIEW: Our firm brought a lawsuit against Carnival Cruise Line on

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  2.  

    Cruise Lines Held Liable to Passenger for the Negligence of Ship’s Doctor, Even Though Doctor is an Independent Contractor

    Landmark Cases


    CARLISLE vs. CARNIVAL CORPORATION 2003 Fla. App. LEXIS 12794 (Fla. App. 3rd 2003)


    PROCEDURAL POSTURE: Appellant parents appealed from the entry of summary judgment by the Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County (Florida), in favor of appellee cruise line, in the parents' suit seeking to hold the cruise line vicariously liable for the negligence of a ship's

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  3.  

    Casenote on Carlisle v. Carnival – cruise passenger Carlisle was the first or one of the first cruise passengers to have a successful medical malpractice claim against a cruise line.

  4.  

    Supreme Court rules that seaman can recover punitive damages in admiralty for maintenance and cure situations.

    Landmark Case


    ATLANTIC SOUNDING CO., INC., ET AL. v. TOWNSEND



    CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE ELEVENTH CIRCUIT



    No. 08–214. Argued March 2, 2009—Decided June 25, 2009
    Atlantic Sounding Co. allegedly refused to pay maintenance and cure torespondent Townsend for injuries he suffered while working on itstugboat, and then filed this declaratory relief action regarding

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  5.  

    Seafarer Injured in Separate Accident on Land While Getting Maintenance and Cure From the Shipowner or Employer Was Entitled to Received Continued Maintenance and Cure for the Separate Accident

    Landmark Cases


    DUARTE vs. ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISES,LTD. 761 So. 2d 367; (Fla. App. 3rd 2000)


    PROCEDURAL POSTURE: Appellant seaman sought review of an adverse decision of the Circuit Court for Dade County (Florida), granting summary judgment in appellee cruise line's favor on a claim for the continuation of maintenance and cure following appellant's injuries sustained in an automobile

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  6.  

    State Medical Malpractice Presuit Procedures Did Not Apply to Claim of Medical Negligence by Passenger Against Doctor and Nurse on Cruise Line Vessel

    Landmark Cases


    RAND vs. HATCH 762 So. 2d 1001 (Fla. App. 3rd 2000)


    PROCEDURAL POSTURE: Petitioners, doctor and nurse, sought certiorari review to the Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County (Florida) of the denial of their motion to dismiss the complaint for medical negligence filed by respondents husband and wife. In denying the motion to dismiss, the trial court

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  7.  

    Federal Court Rules Seafarers who Become Sick or Injured While Working on a Ship are Entitled to Lost Tips as Part of Their Sick Wages Under Maintenance and Cure

    Landmark Cases


    FLORES v. CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES, 47 F.3d 1120, (C.A. 11th 1995)


    OVERVIEW: Appellant seaman filed a class action suit under Fed. R. Civ. P. 23, against appellee, cruise ship's owner, seeking compensatory and punitive damages on behalf of all crew members of appellee who became sick or injured and who did not receive their reasonably anticipated
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  8.  

    Seaman had Retaliatory Discharge Claim Against Vessel Owner by Reason of Being Fired for Refusing to Lie Under Oath for the Shipping Company

    Landmark Cases


    BAITON v. CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES, INC 61 So. 2d 313 (Fla. App. 3rd 1995)


    PROCEDURAL POSTURE: Appeal from the judgment of Circuit Court of Dade County (Florida), dismissing plaintiff's case for failure to state a cause of action, plaintiff arguing that he established a basis for suing defendant for retaliatory discharge under federal maritime law and

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  9.  

    Physician with Staff Privileges had Claim Against Hospital for Tortious Interference, Breach of Contract and Good Faith Claims Where Hospital Interfered with Patient Referrals

    Landmark Cases


    GREENBERG, M.D., v. MOUNT SINAI MEDICAL CENTER OF GREATER MIAMI, INC., 629 So. 2d 252 (Fla. App. 3rd 1993)


    PROCEDURAL POSTURE: Appellant doctors sought review from the Circuit Court for Dade County (Florida), which dismissed their complaint against appellee hospital and department chairman alleging tortious interference with advantageous business relationships, civil conspiracy for tortious interference with

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  10.  

    Seaman Did Not Need an Expert Witness at Trial

    Landmark Cases


    SOLANO v. CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES, INC., 491 So. 2d 325 (Fla. App. 3rd 1986)


    PROCEDURAL POSTURE: Appellant sought review of a decision of the Circuit Court for Dade County (Florida), which directed a verdict in favor of appellees in appellant's Jones Act/unseaworthiness proceeding. The court based its judgment on the finding that, in the absence of

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  11.  

    Even Though Seaman Settled Injury Claim Prior to His Death, His Family Could Make a Second Recovery for the Same Accident

    Landmark Cases


    BODDEN v. AMERICANOFFSHORE, INC. 681 F.2d 319; (C.A. 5th 1982)


    PROCEDURAL POSTURE: The husband and father of plaintiff wife and children died as a result of injuries sustained on board defendant ship owners' vessel. Prior to his death, the decedent settled a claim for injuries that he sustained on board defendants' vessel while the vessel was

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  12.  

    Error to Allow Proof of Receipt of Workers Compensation Benefits into Evidence at Trial

    Landmark Cases


    COOK, v. ENEY, M.D., 277 So. 2d 848; (Fla. App. 3rd 1973)


    PROCEDURAL POSTURE: Appellant sought review of a judgment from the trial court (Florida) in favor of appellee medical doctor in a medical malpractice suit.


    OVERVIEW: Appellant brought suit against appellee medical doctor for medical malpractice. A jury entered a verdict for appellee and the trial court

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  13.  

    Error in Medical Negligence Case to not Allow Interrogatories Regarding Textbooks Regarded as Authoritative by Defendant Physician

    Landmark Cases


    BUGA v.WIENER, M.D. 277 So. 2d 296; (Fla. App. 4th 1973)


    PROCEDURAL POSTURE: Plaintiffs, patient and her husband, sought review of a decision from the Circuit Court, Broward County (Florida), which, based upon a jury verdict, entered judgment in favor of defendant physician on plaintiffs' medical malpractice complaint. Plaintiffs sought damages for defendant's alleged negligence in

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  14.  

    First Class Action in Admiralty Allowed

    Landmark Cases


    HERNANDEZ v. The MOTOR VESSEL SKYWARD 61 F.R.D. 558 (S.D. Fla. 1973)


    PROCEDURAL POSTURE: In an action for breach of contract, negligence, and breach of implied warranty of fitness arising out of a pleasure cruise during which the passengers and the crew were exposed to contaminated food or water, plaintiff passengers filed a motion to certify

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