Newsletter Update – December, 1999
“Access Now” and Edward Resnick currently have a lawsuit pending against Norwegian Cruise Lines regarding violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and a fraud perpetrated on Edward Resnick.
Edward and his family wanted to go on the Defendant’s vessel, M/S Norwegian Sky, for their Millennium, 7-day Western Caribbean cruise, which embarks and disembarks in Florida. For three weeks prior to making this reservation, Edward attempted, but could not obtain information regarding the accessibility of the vessel because the vessel has not entered into service. Edward spoke with various employees of NCL regarding accessibility issues on the M/S Norwegian Sky and other NCL vessels. Based upon the conversations with NCL employees and information otherwise available on the M/S Norwegian Sky , M/S Norwegian Dream and the M/S Norwegian Wind, Edward believed that the M/S Norwegian Sky vessel would be wheelchair accessible.
Based upon this belief and reliance on the representations of NCL, the Resnick family booked reservations for ten people, including Edward Resnick. Resnick later learned through publicly available information that this vessel, M/S Norwegian Sky, (and the M/S Norwegian Dream and the M/S Norwegian Wind) was not accessible to him because of his disability and thereafter sought to cancel his ticket reservation and the reservations of his family, and did so. However, NCL refused to refund the deposit for these reservations.
NCL has been vigorously defending this lawsuit, maintaining that the Americans with Disabilities Act has no application outside of United States territory, and as a foreign flagged ship, it has no application on the ship itself. Since all vessels owned by NCL are foreign flagged, there is an issue of whether foreign flagged vessels must comply with the ADA. Many vessel owners operate under foreign flags that have enabled them to avoid certain regulations and laws of the United States of America. Because NCL is headquartered in Florida, derives most of its revenue from United States residents, and predominantly uses Florida ports as its vessels’ home ports, NCL should be subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Matthew W. Dietz, of Gaebe Murphy Mullen & Antonelli, of Coral Gables, Florida, who is the attorney for “Access Now” and Edward Resnick, maintains that the discrimination against Edward occurred within the territory of the United States, and accordingly, even if the ADA does not apply outside of United States territory, once the ship chooses to enter the territory, it is subject to United States anti-discrimination laws.