This is a pretty interesting opinion from Judge Cooke, voiding an arbitration clause in a Carnival Cruise line employee contract.
She finds the arbitration provision to be null and void because it violates the statutory remedies provided to seamen by the Jones Act:
The Jones Act confers seamen the statutory right to sue their employers for the negligence of fellow crew members. 46 U.S.C. § 30104; Thomas, 573 F.3d 1115 n. 1. In the event of personal injury or death of a seaman, the personal representative of the seaman may elect to bring a civil action at law, with a right to trial by jury, against the employer. 46 U.S.C. § 30104. There is no dispute that the law governing the Agreement and the arbitration clause is Panamanian law. Panamanian law, however, does not provide a seaman a reasonable equivalent to the statutory rights conferred by the Jones Act. Accordingly, the arbitration clause violates public policy, operates as “prospective waiver” of a Plaintiff’s right “to pursue statutory remedies” under the laws of the United States, and is “null and void” under the Convention. Absent a valid arbitration clause under the Convention, this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over this action. 9 U.S.C. § 205.Hmm, this has pretty broad implications, no?
Any guesses on how the 11th will handle this?