Crew Member Sues Maersk Over Hijacking of Vessel By Pirates

There is an interesting torts suit stemming from the pirating of the Maersk Alabama in the Gulf of Aden. Crew members are now accusing the celebrated captain of the ship, Richard Phillips, of causing the incident by ignoring repeated warnings to sail around the area after earlier pirate attacks.

Phillips was heralded as a hero for his steadfast conduct during the period of captivity. However, crew members now allege that he decided to ignore warnings to save time and fuel — taking the ship into the middle of the area that was previously identified as swarming with pirates off the African coast.

Maritime authorities issued at least seven warnings to avoid the area in the days before the attack.

The critics now include the chief engineer, the helmsman and the navigator on the ship. Four of the 20 crew members have spoken out against Phillips. Chief engineer Mike Perry put it simply: “He caused this, and we all know it. All the Alabama crew knows about it.”

Criminal actions of third parties generally cut off liability as matters of proximate causation. However, in some cases, courts find that such acts are foreseeable. That was the case in Kline v. 1500 Massachusetts Avenue where a landlord was found liable for not taking precautions to protect tenants from crime in an apartment building in Washington. Here is the Kline decision.

While one crew member has filed, others may join with their own filing in the weeks to come.

For the full story, click here and here.

8 thoughts on “Crew Member Sues Maersk Over Hijacking of Vessel By Pirates”

  1. @ AY

    Sorry – not particularly clear. Some seem to be suggesting a nexus is not possible in this case.

    If it were more possible to legally connect decisions that have foreseeable consequences with their outcomes, politicians would hate it. Maybe we could sue them for their promises?

    (Half joking…..I think).

  2. Can’t we just sneak this one through? Imagine the possibilities; holding politicians accountable for things that are foreseeable (with warnings) but they claim they lost control of???

  3. As a tort claim, it’s rubbish. You assume the risk of piracy every time you are on an open water way be it river or sea warning or not. One doesn’t see a lot of lake and pond pirates, however. I hear in Vegas they have fountain pirates but that they are mostly harmless.

  4. this is BS, any time you go to sea there is risk. it is inherent in the nature of the job. If you want to be warm and safe then live your life in an office and let the men handle the heavy lifting.

    what a bunch of candy a . . . pansies.

    And the company that owns the ships, what a bunch of DS’s, mount twin 50’s on the bow, stern, port and starboard and be willing to use them. Then pirates could not get within a 1,000 yards of your vessel. That is how pirates should be handled to begin with.

  5. Wait….Maritime Law trumps. Its tribunal is in Switzerland. Pirates have there own separate code under the International laws in effect today. I do not believe that this matter will stand. If it is allowed to, then maritime gun running operations of the CIA will come to a halt. Take for instance if someone gets killed because of a CIA linked gun. Do they then have a Cause of Action? This is Bullshit.

    What about the inherent dangerous conditions of the great lakes would anyone like to ring the Bells at Mariner Church one one time?

  6. It looks like the smell of money is in the water now! If the captain did ignore warnings, I would think his employer would want to take action against him, but the publicity could be damaging. I wonder if these crew members would have sued him if he hadn’t given himself up on their behalf?

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