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 lost tips or, in the alternative, monthly guaranteed tips. The trial court granted appellee’s motion for summary judgment on both the compensatory and punitive damages claims. On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment as to punitive damages and reversed as to appellant’s compensatory claim. The court held that the maintenance and cure remedy dictated that the measure of appellant’s unearned wages should have included the tips he would have earned had he not become disabled. The court relied upon workers’ compensation cases defining average weekly wage to include both the base salary and average tip income. The court calculated appellant’s tips on the basis of the average amount in weekly tips appellant received for the work he performed on the ship. The court held that appellant was not entitled to punitive damages because appellee did not exhibit willful and wanton misconduct.

OUTCOME: The court reversed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of appellee, cruise ship’s owner, on appellant seaman’s compensatory damages claim and remanded because appellant was entitled to recover tips under the remedy of wages provided by admiralty law. The court held that appellant was not entitled to punitive damages because appellee did not exhibit willful and wanton misconduct.