Holland & Knight Defends Celebrity Cruises Against Dual Class Actions
MIAMI – January 9, 2013 - On January 7, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit affirmed a lower court's ruling dismissing two class actions brought against Celebrity Cruises Inc. by cabin stewards who claimed the company had withheld their tips.
The first case was brought by Celebrity employees who are natives of India and originally was being handled in arbitration due to a provision in Celebrity's collective bargaining agreement with its workers. After being dissatisfied with their union's representation, the plaintiffs returned to court and filed a suit against the cruise line and union under the Labor Management Act. Ultimately the courts, relying on two U.S. Supreme Court rulings as precedent, ruled that U.S. labor law does not apply to wage disputes between foreign ships and foreign seamen.
A separate class action was brought against Celebrity by 10 of the members of the original class, this time under the Seaman’s Wage Act. Their claims were dismissed under the doctrine of res judicata, meaning that they should have asserted their Seaman's Wage Act claim in the earlier filed case.
Miami-based partners Sandy Bohrer and Scott Ponce acted as lead counsel to Celebrity.