Articles Tagged with “Fernando Osorio”

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As last reported two months ago, Leesfield Scolaro filed a lawsuit against Princess Cruises on June 5, 2012, on behalf of Fernando Osorio’s parents in the United States District Court Southern District of Florida. The lawsuit is based upon the death of Fernando amd asserts Princess Star’s failure to rescue his vessel in distress, the Fifty Cent, after its crew was alerted by three passengers that they had spotted a small boat adrift over 125 miles from shore, whose occupants were signaling for help.

Fernando Osorio, Adrian Vasquez and Elvis Diaz were fishing off the coast of Rio Hato, Panama, when the engine of the 26-foot panga boat broke down. After being adrift for 15 days and 14 nights without power, the three occupants saw a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean and began signaling and waving t-shirts and life jackets in an attempt to be seen by someone on the large cruise ship.

jeff_gilligan.jpgTheir wish came true when several cruise passengers spotted the three men and the Fifty Cent. The passengers, who were using optical equipment to look for birds alerted a crew member who they asked to alert the Captain immediately. As the passengers listened on, the crew member called the bridge and advised of the disabled boat. During the process, they also showed the crew member the distressed vessel through their optical gear, and he confirmed to them he had seen the same thing they had. To their dismay, nothing happened.

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While cruise lines continue to say the right thing in press releases and the national media destined for public consumption, the attorneys for cruise lines continuously and systematically fight to deny cruise passengers’ claims, and fight to deny the existence of any cruise lines’ duties in court.

enchantment-of-the-seas-large11.jpgThis morning, Royal Caribbean’s cruise ship, Enchantment of the Seas, rescued a dehydrated sailor who needed emergent medical attention. This is the latest rescue at sea, and the second rescue in as many months, that is receiving national attention in the media. This is also the latest rescue since Leesfield Scolaro sued Princess Cruises for its failure to rescue Fernando Osorio, who died five days after his drifting boat came in close contact with the Star Princess, a ship Princess Cruises owned and operated.

Days after that story broke in the media, Princess Cruises’ public relations department took control of the narrative and made a step in the right direction when it issued the following public statement on April 19, 2012:

“Princess Cruises is dedicated to the highest standards of seamanship wherever our ships sail, and it is our duty to assist any vessel in distress. We have come to the aid of many people at sea, and we will continue to do so.”

After the above statement was released, Adrian Vasquez, who was a companion of Fernando Osorio on that same drifting vessel that Princess Cruises made no attempt to rescue, filed a lawsuit against Princess Cruises for failure to rescue the distressed vessel and for failure to provide him and his dying friends any assistance.

In response to Vasquez’s complaint, Princess Cruises filed a Motion to Dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that it should be thrown out for the following reasons:

– Vasquez did not radio the cruise ship – Vasquez did not fire distress rockets – Vasquez did not deploy distress flares – Vasquez did not deploy distress smoke signals – Vasquez did not utilize any intentionally recognized equipment to signal distress at sea – Vasquez did not attempt to signal with a burning torch – Princess Cruises is uncertain whether Vasquez’s vessel ever sailed within sight of the Cruise Ship ‘Allure of the Seas’
– The law does not impose a duty on ships to investigate whether every passing vessel may need assistance

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We previously reported on the incident that led to the death of 16-year-old Fernando Osorio Rodriguez, who died at sea, five days after his drifting boat came in close contact with the Star Princess, ship operated by Princess Cruises, which failed to render aid to the boat in distress.

On June 5, 2012, as published in the Miami Herald, Leesfield Scolaro sued Princess Cruises and filed its complaint on behalf of Fernando Osorio’s parents in the United States District Court Southern District of Florida.

The complaint is available here.

The lawsuit alleges that, on February 24, 2012, Fernando Osorio and two of his friends boarded the Fifty Cents, a 26-foot panga boat, which is a modest-sized, open, outboard-powered, fishing boat common through the region. The three friends intended to fish off the coast of Panama, but shortly after the group left from Rio Hato, the engine of the Fifty Cents died and the boat drifted out to sea.

latin_2_resize.jpgFernando and his two friends drifted at sea for 15 days and 14 nights without power when on March 10, 2012, the Panga drifted within sight of a large white ship, the Star Princess, which is a luxury cruise ship with a passenger capacity of 2590 and a crew capacity of 1150. At the time the Fifty Cents was so far from shore that it was obvious that it was not fishing, but instead without power and adrift.

Upon seeing the large ship, the three companions repeatedly signaled that they were in distress and in need of rescue, waving their arms, waving a shirt tied to a pole and otherwise signaling to the passengers and crew of the cruise ship their dire predicament.

Three passengers aboard the Star Princess, who were using special optical equipment for bird watching, spotted the Fifty Cents and its occupants signaling for help and quickly recognized that the boat was in distress and that the men were in danger of dying if not rescued. These three passengers immediately reported the dire and life-threatening condition of the occupants of the powerless and drifting fishing boat to a crew member and provided him with their equipment to see for himself. The crew member looked, and acknowledged to the passengers that he recognized that the Fifty Cents was adrift and in a dire emergency state and he in turn reported this emergency situation to the bridge.

Despite this express notification that the Fifty Cents was adrift and in dire distress, as well as the fact that it was in clear view of this modern cruise ship with all of its sophisticated equipment, the Star Princess failed to discharge its duty under the law to render assistance to the stranded vessel and its occupants, literally leaving them to die.
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As we previously reported, on March 10, 2012, a Princess Cruise ship, the Star Princess, failed to render aid to a drifting vessel. The multiple witness accounts, which have been documented in the media for the past two months, have shown that the cruise ship’s captain either deliberately ignored the call for help or was never made aware of the situation. Neither one of those scenarios is a valid excuse.

Cuba-Florida_map.jpgThis week, a very similar set of circumstances occurred, but thankfully for the occupants of the raft in distress, they were rescued by a cruise ship that was sailing near by. The Disney Fantasy, a cruise ship owned and operated by Disney Cruise, was sailing from Port Canaveral (Florida) to the Cayman Islands on May 26, 2012, when crew-members spotted a small raft near Key West, Florida, with four men aboard.

The ship quickly responded to its duties and rescued the men. “The men were brought aboard the ship and provided with medical attention along with food and water. We are proud of our Disney Fantasy crew members, who skillfully demonstrated their training and commitment to maritime protocols around saving lives at sea,” Disney Cruise Line said in a statement.

These developments are in stark contrast with what occurred last March when the Star Princess failed to rescue a drifting vessel, occupied by three men, including a minor, which eventually resulted in two deaths.

The Star Princess failed to follow Article 98 of the UNCLOS (The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982) which provides that a ship must render assistance to any person found at sea in danger of being lost.

The Star Princess crew was made aware of the drifting vessel by three cruise passengers, who, at the time. were bird-watching, when they spotted the vessel and its three occupants attempting to flag down the large cruise ship by waiving their white t-shirts. The witnesses showed the drifting vessel to a crew-member, they even let him use their bird-watching equipment to confirm the nature of the distress. The crew-member then advised the crew on the bridge of the ship in distress.

Despite the grave concern felt by those who saw the vessel adrift, for some inexplicable reason, the Star Princess did not render any assistance. It never deviated from its course. It never called the Coast Guard for help. It simply continued on with the cruise, to the next Port.
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The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 applies to ships navigating in international waters.

Article 98 of the UNCLOS provides that (1) Every State shall require the master of a ship flying its flag, in so far as he can do so without serious danger to the ship, the crew or the passengers (a) to render assistance to any person found at sea in danger of being lost and; (b) to proceed with all possible speed to the rescue of persons in distress, if informed of their need of assistance, in so far as such action may reasonably be expected of him;

On March 10, 2012, Jeff Gilligan of Portland, Oregon, was on The Star Princess, a luxury cruise ship operated by Carnival Cruise Lines, based out of Miami, Florida. Jeff is an avid bird watcher and that day he was bird watching with two fellow cruise passengers, using their binoculars and spotting telescopes from one of the decks of the ship.

That is when Jeff and his two friends spotted a boat approximately one mile from the cruise ship. Using his binoculars, Jeff saw that the occupants on that small vessel were waving their t-shirts in the direction of the cruise ship. Jeff took a photo of the vessel.

birdwatch_boat_enl.jpg

Judy Meredith from Bend, Oregon, was with Jeff and told NPR: “We all watched him for a bit and thought, ‘This guy’s in distress. He’s trying to get our attention. And he doesn’t have a motor on his boat.’ We could see that.”

She then ran inside to alert the crew, but she only found a crew member who was with the ship’s sales team. The cruise employee contacted the bridge and the situation was relayed to the captain. Jeff Gilligan handed his telescope to another crew member to look at the drifting boat and he confirmed that he saw a boat in distress.

Jeff, Judy and the third bird-watcher thought the ship’s captain would either turn around to rescue the boaters or take the appropriate steps to ensure that the local authorities would conduct a rescue mission. Unfortunately, nothing was ever done.

Days after the cruise ended, Judy Meredith contacted Princess Cruise to inquire about what had happened to the boaters and the steps taken by the ship’s captain at the time. Judy’s tenacity was not something Princess Cruise was prepared for and several versions of the incident surfaced. The last version given by Princess was that cruise ship contacted the boaters in question, but rather than signaling for distress, they had been signaling for the ship to change course because they were afraid the large cruise ship would damage the boaters’ fishing nets. Also, Judy was told that what she mistakenly interpreted as boaters waving their t-shirts in a sign of distress was actually a sign of gratitude for having altered the ship’s course.
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