final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.
Appeal from the Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County, Lower
Tribunal No. 14-21552 Monica Gordo, Judge.
Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A., and Michael
A. Winkleman, for appellant.
Novak & Skipp, P.A., David J. Horr, and Stephanie H.
Wylie, for appellees.
SUAREZ, C.J., and LAGOA and LUCK, JJ.
case is about where a cabin steward on a cruise ship, Miguel
Antonio Alvarado Castro, gets to bring a personal injury
lawsuit against his employer under the Jones Act. Castro
filed his claims in the Miami-Dade County circuit court. The
cruise ship company, Pullmantur, S.A., and its related
entities moved to dismiss because of a forum selection clause
in Castro's employment contract that required him to
bring the lawsuit in Malta. The trial court concluded that
the forum selection clause was valid and enforceable, and
dismissed the case against Pullmantur. We agree, and affirm.
Background and Procedural History
is a cruise line based in Spain. In 2013, Castro was living
in Honduras and applied to work on a Pullmantur cruise ship.
Castro, in May of that year, signed an employment agreement
with Pullmantur Ship Management Limited, a Bahamian company.
The employment agreement provided that Castro would work as a
cabin steward on Pullmantur's Sovereign cruise
ship from May to November, and would be paid $1, 208 per
month. Castro, the agreement said, would meet the
Sovereign in Civitavecchia, Italy, and begin working
on May 14. As part of the employment contract, Castro agreed
that his "employment aboard the vessel shall be governed
by the Laws of the vessel's flag state . . . and any
disputes hereunder shall be adjudicated in that jurisdiction
Sovereign is owned by Pullmantur Cruises Sovereign,
a Maltese corporation. The company's base of operations
is in Malta, and the Sovereign is flagged there. The
Sovereign's home port is Barcelona, Spain. In
the warm weather months, the ship sailed in the Mediterranean
Sea. In the cold weather months, it sailed in South America.
alleged that on September 7, 2013, while he was working on
the Sovereign, he was severely injured because of
the constant heavy lifting, bending, twisting, and turning he
had to do as a cabin steward. Castro claimed that his
injuries were the result of the Pullmantur entities'
negligence, and filed a complaint in Miami-Dade County
circuit court for: (1) Jones Act negligence; (2)
unseaworthiness; (3) failing to provide maintenance and cure;
and (4) failing to treat his injuries.
moved to dismiss Castro's complaint based on the forum
selection clause. Castro responded that the forum selection
clause was unreasonable because Malta was too inconvenient
and expensive for him to litigate this case such that he
would be deprived of his day in court, and it was void under
federal law. The trial court granted the motion to dismiss,
concluding that "enforcement of the forum selection
clause [was] reasonable under the circumstances because the
subject vessel [was] flagged in Malta, the shipowner [was]
incorporated in Malta, Malta has an interest in regulating
its ships and shipowners and Malta has an established system
recognizing and enforcing seaman's
contends on appeal that the trial court erred in finding the
forum selection clause in his contract valid and enforceable
because: (1) the clause is unreasonable given how
"gravely difficult and inconvenient" it would be
for him to litigate the case in Malta; and (2) it is void
after the 2008 amendments to the Jones Act. We review the
trial court's order, which dismissed the case based on
the forum selection clause in ...