Maersk Is Sued Over Alabama Piracy Event


#1

I WOULD LIKE TO MAKE IT ABUNDANTLY CLEAR THAT OUR FIRM HAS NOTHING WHATSOEVER WITH THE BELOW LAWSUIT AND I WILL WITHHOLD MY PUBLIC OPINION ON THIS SUIT AS I KNOW MR. HICKS’ COUNSEL ----------------------------------------------------------------- Crew member on pirated U.S. freighter sues shipping line By BRIAN ROGERS Copyright 2009 Houston Chronicle April 27, 2009, 12:40PM A crewman of the American ship overtaken by pirates off the coast of Africa earlier this month filed suit in Harris County against his employer this morning, asking for at least $75,000 for pain and suffering, alleging that the ship’s owner did not take proper precautions against high seas attacks. Florida resident Richard Hicks, chief steward of the U.S.-flagged Maersk Alabama freighter, sued Mobile, Ala.-based Waterman Steamship and Maersk Line, Limited, asking for money for medical costs and lost earnings because of injuries. At a press conference this morning, Hicks said he was suing to improve conditions for other seafarers traveling in pirate-infested waters off of Somalia. Pirates tried to take over the cargo ship April 8, but were fought off after about 12 hours. They took the ship’s captain, Richard Phillips, hostage, holding him for five days before U.S. Navy snipers freed him by killing three pirates simultaneously. The companies relied “on the United States military (and taxpayers) to provide after-the-fact rescue operations at substantially more cost and risk to human life than what would have been incurred by defendants had they provided appropriate levels of security in the first place,” Hicks said in his complaint. Hicks “sustained and suffered physical pain” and “mental anguish,” according to his petition. He seeks compensation for medical costs and other damages. The companies didn’t provide adequate protection to the crew, according to the petition. Bloomberg News contributed to this report


#2

Thanks for posting Steve.

I can’t wait to start hearing people’s opinion on this matter.


#3

I wonder if they could base their suit on unseaworthiness. The route and destination of the vessel are supposed to be factors in determining seaworthiness.


#4

suit for 75k??that’s all??boat crews working in west africa have been routinely kidnapped for the last 15 years that iam aware of…someone needs to send management a hard message and not a soft stroke!!!

last time i went over it was with 410 buckshot for the line gun, 12ga flare guns w/ plenty of flares, stunn batons, baseball bats, blackjacks, mace and 2 unauthorized 1911s w/extra ammo and clips…even with all that it got pretty scarey at anchor one night in angola.

i don’t plan on going anywhere near africa in the future!!


#5

I assume they are looking for a quick settlement. If the standard contingency fee of one-third is used, the lawyers get $25K, way less than what it would probably cost to work this for 2 years or so and then put on a trial.


#6

Hi Mark:

All is going well. At the Horn of Africa and heading south, but I am well
to east of 061, heck if I went much further I’d be in Diego Garcia.
However, I am not taking it lightly. I have 3+ days of extra 24hr lookouts
planned. All entry is secured by bolts + add 5 Ton securing gear from WT
Doors to decks for additional strength. Besides zigzags; distress contact &
running as dark as possible (why give them a bright target at night to zero
in on?) with AIS off, my contingency plans include putting olive oil down
ladder wells and decks, followed by breaking light bulbs or glass in them
(Alabama group had bare feet to climb ropes); 5 gallon cans of liquid soap
to spray into pirates boat, followed by turning on pre-rigged fire hoses
(logic is make them too slick to climb); have wooden tables to throw
overboard into skiffs if they land alongside hull + 8 case of cans of that
non-alcohol Old Milwaukee (got to get rid of it somehow) to throw / drop
into skiff so when they hit the boat it explodes creating a spray to
disorient them plus those cans fall like bricks from 130’ above waterline.
Will open up w/9mm as last resort - then retreat into E/R as citadel to
blacken and disable ship. The probability of reaching me this far out is
low, very low, but failure to plan is planning to fail.

I wish there was something new here to tell you. Boring… but that’s good.
Even though Rich is about to become a millionaire I am glad it was him not
me. We were together at office 3 weeks before I went back to work. The
Alabama is a WATERMAN ship bare boat chartered to Big Blue so it’s our crew.
We both had the security conversation w/Fleet Mgr. I assume things will
change, but not over night.

Ok, time to go back to bridge - coffee time. Say hi to Patty & all at home.
/ Your bud - Steve

PS cargo onboard is all US Army heavy armor out of Iraq

==========================================================================

Sailor sues over safety of pirated Maersk Alabama
By JUAN A. LOZANO

HOUSTON (AP) - A member of the crew on the U.S.-flagged ship hijacked by
African pirates sued the owner and another company Monday, accusing them of
knowingly putting sailors in danger. Richard E. Hicks alleges in the suit
that owner Maersk Line Limited and Waterman Steamship Corp., which provided
the crew, ignored requests to improve safety measures for vessels sailing
along the Somali coast.

Hicks was chief cook on the Maersk Alabama. Pirates held the ship’s captain
hostage for five days until the U.S. Navy rescued him.

Hicks’ lawsuit seeks at least $75,000 in damages and improved safety.

Officials for Norfolk, Va.-based Maersk Line and Mobile, Ala.-based Waterman
said their companies don’t comment on pending litigation.

Hicks asked that the two companies improve safety for ships by providing
armed security or allowing crew members to carry weapons, sending ships
through safer routes, and placing such safety measures on ships as barbed
wire that would prevent pirates from being able to board vessels.

“We’ve had safety meetings every month for the last three years and made
suggestions of what should be done and they have been ignored,” Hicks said.
“I’m just trying to make sure this is a lot better for other seamen.”

Hicks also asked the two companies pay at least $75,000 in damages, saying
he doesn’t know if he will ever work on a ship again.

"My family is not looking forward to me going back out to sea. But I’m not
sure if I’m going back. I’m still nervous, leery. I might find something
else to do, said Hicks, who has worked 32 years as a merchant seaman.

“We think (the companies) should be more concerned about the personnel on
their ships than the profits the companies make,” said Terry Bryant, Hicks’
attorney.

Both companies do business in Texas, which is why the suit was filed in
Houston, he said.

Pirates took over the Alabama on April 8 before Capt. Richard Phillips
surrendered himself in exchange for the safety of his 19-member crew. The
captain was taken on a lifeboat and held hostage for five days before U.S.
Navy SEAL snipers on the destroyer USS Bainbridge killed three of his
captors and freed him.

Hicks said crew members have been trained on what to do if pirates or others
threaten the ship.

“We need more than training,” said the 53-year-old who lives in Royal Palm
Beach, Fla., and has two grown sons. “I never thought nothing like this
would ever happen.”

Hicks said pirates had tried to board the ship two other times that week,
but the Alabama had managed to outrun them. But on April 8, as Hicks was
preparing food for the crew, the ship’s alarm rang and the captain announced
the ship was being boarded by pirates.

Hicks and the other crew members went to their designated safety room, which
was the engine room, and they waited there for more than 12 hours in 125
degree heat.

“I didn’t know if I was going to live or die,” Hicks said.

The crew managed to take a pirate hostage, wounding him with an ice pick,
and attempted to use him to get back Phillips. But the bandits fled the ship
with Phillips as their captive, holding him in the lifeboat until the SEAL
sharpshooters rescued him.

“He did a hell of a job saving us,” Hicks said of Phillips.

But Bryant said the Maersk Line and Waterman share the blame for putting the
crew at risk.

“We want to bring more attention to the shipping industry and the dangers in
pirate-infested waters,” he said.


#7

[quote=seadawg;11793]suit for 75k??that’s all??boat crews working in west africa have been routinely kidnapped for the last 15 years that iam aware of…someone needs to send management a hard message and not a soft stroke!!!

last time i went over it was with 410 buckshot for the line gun, 12ga flare guns w/ plenty of flares, stunn batons, baseball bats, blackjacks, mace and 2 unauthorized 1911s w/extra ammo and [B]clips[/B]…even with all that it got pretty scarey at anchor one night in angola.

i don’t plan on going anywhere near africa in the future!![/quote]