Thursday, May 17, 2007

Civil trial

A helpful reader has sent me the following email:

You're missing out on the big civil trial going on right now in front of Judge Altonaga. In 2005, the M/V Norwegian Dawn sailed into a storm off the coast of South Carolina while en-route from the Bahamas to NYC. A class action was brought against NCL, but Judge Altonaga denied certification. The case has proceeded with 400 named plaintiffs. After initially granting plaintiffs' motion for bifurcation, then reversing herself, Judge Altonaga ordered that all 400 cases be tried, five plaintiffs at a time.

The first trial commenced today, and it's expected to last at least three weeks.

The attorneys are Curtis Mase and Richard Lara for NCL; Brett Rivkind and Nicolas Sakellis for the plaintiffs.

Yikes. 400 plaintiffs, 5 at a time is 80 trials. 80 trials at 3 weeks a piece is 240 weeks or 4 1/2 years. I'm sure Judge Altonaga goes home every night and prays to the settlement gods.


Anonymous said...

On Friday, June 1, 2007, the 10-person jury in Judge Altonaga's courtroom returned a verdict in favor of defendant Norwegian Cruise Line on all counts. The plaintiffs had demanded $100 million in the complaint, including a demand for punitives, stemming from allegations that NCL intentionally drove its vessel, the Norwegian Dawn, into the "teeth" of a severe storm off the coast of the Carolinas to make a date with Donald Trump's "The Apprentice."

NCL's defense counsel, Curtis Mase and Richard Lara each conducted blistering cross-examinations of the Plaintiffs and their several hired experts, revealing that one had been convicted of committing fraud and another had been disqualified as an expert in several earlier cases. In the end, NCL chose not to put on a single witness in its defense.

Since there are 400 remaining named plaintiffs, we will have to wait and see if the plaintiffs will choose to pursue their claims in front of this same jury, and Judge Altonaga has put a very tight schedule in place requiring the next trial start in 3 months, if at all.

Plaintiffs' counsel:

Brett Rivkind, Nick Sakellis and Joel Perwin

Defense counsel:

Curtis Mase and Richard Lara

Anonymous said...

NCL should be held accountable being that they opted to leave Miami ignoring forcasts for stormy weather. They may not have "intentionally" drove directly into the storm but they certainly did not consider the saftey of their passengers at all by leaving the port that evening. I am willing to bet that had they not had the scheduled date with "The Apprentice" that they probably would not have left Miami until the storm passed. I'm sure the jury felt that the plaintiffs are being "greedy" with the lawsuit but lets look where the real greed is......Had NCL just waited out the storm, this trial would not even exist. NCL should be counting their lucky stars that no one was killed in this potentially deadly decision. NCL should have their cruising license revoked. I would not cruise on one of their ships if they gave me the cruise for free.

Anonymous said...

"Cruising license"? Is that kind of like a driver's license?

Todd and in Charge said...

Ouch. Plaintiffs' counsel will not be throwing good money after bad, unless this was just a jury issue (unlikely if cross of experts accurate).