CNN Names Mariner Accused of Raping Midshipman-X

Ok, I misunderstood. It should be relatively straightforward to fire a crewmember for drinking aboard in situations where, for example, they don’t pass a alcohol test aboard the ship. In this case where there was a delay between the incident and reporting, presumably it takes longer to gather statements and so forth.

In my experience it’s better to do it right so there’s zero chance the fired crewmember is able to successfully appeal the firing.

Also the 5 crewmembers had been suspended so what was the hurry?

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I have for many years had to live in the heads of plaintiff’s lawyers, so the following thoughts come reflexively to me. They are based not on the criminal law aspect of the crime, but on the civil law aspect; the lawsuit which is inevitable after the crime:

Plaintiff lawyers are out for restitution for their client. They like the easy money and the cash cow: the employer. But if they feel the employer is too hard a nut to crack—it the employer followed all the rules to protect its employees, took all the precautions—then the plaintiff’s lawyer is going to go for an easier, though less lucrative, source of cash. An easier defendant to provide restitution.

In a sex crime aboard a union ship both the victim and the perpetrator are union members. The witnesses are all union members. The perpetrator was vetted for employment by the union, not by the employer. The workplace regulations—watches, work hours, required living quarters—are in a great degree determined by the union. Union rules determine liberty in port, and restrict the reasons a crew member can be fired.

In fact, a plaintiff’s lawyer could make a reasonable case that the union is as much or more responsible for the workplace conditions aboard ship that allowed the crime to happen, than the employer.

The plaintiff’s lawyer could reasonably argue that this makes the union as culpable or more than the employer in the malfeasance that led to the crime.

A plaintiffs lawyer wouldn’t try this if tack if there was chink in the employer’s armor of policy and procedure. The employer is the cash cow, and a civil case in the end is about money. However, if the employer is unassailable, then the plaintiff’s lawyer could easily look at the union.

Unions don’t have big revenue streams. They do have litigation/harassment insurance, which is something. The one big asset they do have is the pension fund.

I don’t know what case-law is about pension funds being used by unions to pay off lawsuits. If there was no definitive case-law against it, a plaintiff’s lawyer could reasonably make a case that the plaintiff would not be able to work for the union after the lawsuit, because of fear of retaliation etc.

Therefore the plaintiff could reasonably ask the court for an amount equal to a lifetime of wages and pension benefits not earned (the typical amount requested from the employer) to be paid by the union to the defendant.

Has this happened before? Society is changing rapidly. Plaintiff’s lawyers are a smart set, and they are always upping their game.


AFAIK that’s not correct, the four senior officers (Capt., C/E, C/M, 1 A/E ) are selected by the company.


@freighterman1 senior officers are chosen by the company and actually even junior officers in MMP & MEBA work by throwing union cards. The oldest card/ highest card status has the first right to the job. However, at this time the company has the right to refuse the individual if the Captain has told the company they do not want this person on the ship or the person has been fired and not had satisfactory employment for a set amount of time with a different union company. Then in that case the union has the right to/ will provide an alternate aka the next person with the oldest card/ highest status. In other words the company is also responsible for vetting its employees.

I think this is overstating it by a wide margin. The union and the company negotiate a contract that both parties are willing to sign.

This would all be true, and if the defendant’s lawyer argued this in court they would have simply made the opposing counsel’s job easier. The plaintiff’s lawyer would then say the defendant agrees that the union is equally culpable for bad vetting, and thus equally responsible for better vetting of members.

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Innocent until proven guilty is a legal concept, saying the state cannot take your liberty or property without due process. A private company, generally, is not bound by any such requirement of due process. They are perfectly within their rights to conduct their own investigation of the accusation, and reach their own conclusion on if it has a basis or not, and to keep or let go the employee in question. The employee, again generally, can always take the company to court if they feel they were unjustly damaged.

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They’re more likely to settle the case.

I was involved (as one of defendants lawyers) with a case of an assault/battery onboard ship, the assailant had a prior conviction for battery. The plaintiff argued the vessels was unseaworthy (legally, not what it souinds like to lay types, it’s far broader) We argued that the vessel owner met its obligation by relying on the background check done when the assailant got his MMD.

We never found out if that argument had merit, we settled.

But the Coast Guard is, a point conspicuously absent from that article.


not 100 pct sure - but pretty darn sure the CG can not take action against your license/docuements without due process - now I believe that can be an administrated review -

To make this case a lawyer would search through 20 years of union records: pronouncements, advertising, newspapers/newsletter, negotiations, speeches. In all of that did the union ever claim to make the work place better by changing work hours, living conditions, liberty rules, etc. ? if they did then the lawyer would argue that the union is equally responsible along with the employer in creating the conditions aboard, and therefore equally culpable.

And as @jdcavo has pointed out, if the plaintiffs lawyer cannot prove the vessel unseaworthy, they are going to try to find restitution some place other than the employer. And if the plaintiff has sufficient animus, that may be the union.

Another line of reasoning would be this: the lawyer could make the claim (entirely without merit) that union members have a longstanding tradition of never ratting each other out, and that this unwritten but ironbound code fostered the conditions for the crime to occur.

The lawyer would make some story up ( fantasy of course) that when officers (employers ) ask union members if they saw a fight or an accident aboard ship that union members have an unwritten code to say they never saw anything, and that this unwritten code fostered an atmosphere of impunity that lead to the crime.

Fantasy of course, but plaintiff lawyers win cases not so much as by setting a fire as stacking the cordwood high and threatening to light the match.


Cadets suing Unions will probably hurt the industry as a whole. But you’re right if the person is looking for more money to grab that would be the next move.
Looking from the outside because I have do not know the full details of the situation but someone waiting for years to report this brutal assault and then suing the company makes it seem like the accuser is in it for the money not to hold the accused attacker responsible. Reinforcing this point is getting an undisclosed monetary award and not putting that money towards a program activating for industry change.
You can privately pursue criminal charges against someone. Although it is harder than a government prosecutor pursuing the charges. Why wouldn’t you want to hold your attacker accountable ?

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Not really. That’s the discretion of the cognizant prosecutor, unless there is a specific statutory exception allowing a private citizen to initiate a prosecution. Those are very specific, and rare. “Press charges” is a misnomer. It really means you’ll cooperate (e.g. testify) with the prosecution, if the DA or US attorney elects to prosecute.

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A plaintiff’s lawyer would reply that improvements in workplace safety occur much more quickly from civil litigation than from criminal convictions.

Hundreds of years of laws have yet to prevent sex offenders from committing crimes. But million-dollar lawsuits quickly incentivize organizations, public and private, to police their own ranks and exclude sex offenders.

The burden of proof in a criminal conviction is high. In the case of a sex crime aboard ship, the employer sees itself as only tangentially involved in a criminal case, because in a criminal case the accused sex offender is on trial, not the employer.

In a civil case the accused sex offender is actually not the focus. They usually have shallow pockets, and it is difficult to wring money from them because of the financial effect on the offender’s dependents. So the lawyer focuses on the employer, where the money is. The employer knows this and sets up policies and procedures against possible sex crimes in order to protect itself as well as its employees

Which, a plaintiff’s lawyer would argue, is exactly how civil litigation makes the workplace safer. It forces employers to set up and monitor protective policies and procedures, something they might not do if they had not been faced with the specter of financial loss.

If the employer has set up policies and procedures to avoid the crime, and monitored them, the plaintiff’s lawyer would have an uphill battle winning a civil case (or more realistically, negotiating a big settlement). Then they might be tempted to go after the next best thing: the union, for the reasons I gave above.

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Google due process. Your info is low and I suggest educating yourself before continuing to post potentially libelous statements. Thanks.

Due process? I’m sorry what’s the most minor thing you’ve seen somebody get fired for? Mines probably a guy who didn’t shave. The bar is very low to fire somebody on a ship. Especially if someone is looking for a reason.

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Agreed, meaning that their firing from maersk likely had nothing to do with the incident and is by no means evidence of guilt. I suggest you google the word libel to make sure you understand its meaning. Thanks.

And what have I said that is considered libel?

Professional newspapers use this new word called “allegedly” when discussing crimes that haven’t been tried in court. The alleged crime took place by the alleged individual. This is due to libel laws. Google them. You claim to be in management and willing to fire individuals without cause. That may fall short of employment laws. You might consider seeking professional advice to fill in your lack of info on these subjects. Thanks.

Never said that. I said I’d fire him as fast as possible. And whatever infraction he would be fired for he would have “allegedly” committed. Backed up by witnesses and statements and all the proper paperwork with the Ts dotted and the Is crossed.

Ummm … ah, never mind…