United States District Court, S.D. Florida
MICHAEL MOORE CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
CAUSE came before the Court upon Defendants Princess Cruise
Lines, Ltd. (“Princess”), Steiner Transocean
Limited, Steiner Leisure Limited, and Steiner Transocean
U.S., Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss and Compel Arbitration
(ECF No. 8) (the “Arbitration Motion”) and
Plaintiff Michelle Haasbroek's Response in Opposition and
Motion for Remand (ECF No. 12) (the “Remand
Motion” or “Opp.”). Both motions are now
ripe for review. For the reasons that follow, both motions
are GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART.
Haasbroek (“Plaintiff”), a South African citizen,
was a spa facialist employed by Steiner Transocean Limited,
Steiner Leisure Limited, and/or Steiner Transocean U.S., Inc.
(collectively, the “Steiner Defendants”).
See Notice of Removal Ex. 1 (ECF No. 1-1) (the
“Complaint”) ¶¶ 6, 8. On April 4, 2014,
Plaintiff and Steiner Transocean Limited, a Bahamas company,
executed an agreement labeled the Shipboard Employment
Agreement (the “SEA”). See Notice of
Removal Ex. 2 (ECF No. 1-2) (“SEA”).
is governed by the laws of the Bahamas. See SEA at
Article 16(a) (p. 11). The SEA also contains an arbitration
clause (hereinafter, the “Arbitration Clause”),
which reads in relevant part:
[A]ny and all disputes, claims or controversies whatsoever,
whether in contract, regulatory, tort or otherwise, including
but not limited to, constitutional, statutory, common law,
intentional tort and equitable claims, as well as Jones Act
and Wage Act claims, claims for negligence, unseaworthiness,
maintenance and cure, failure to provide prompt, proper and
adequate medical care, personal injury, death or property
damage and whether accruing prior to, during or after the
expiration of this Agreement (collectively
“Disputes”), shall be resolved by final and
binding arbitration. In addition, Employee agrees to
arbitrate any and all disputes regarding the existence,
validity, termination or enforceability of any term or
provision in this Agreement. All arbitration between the
parties shall be referred to and finally administered and
resolved in Nassau, The Bahamas and administered by the
American Arbitration Association (“AAA”) under
its international dispute resolution procedures. . . .
Id. at Article 16(b) (p. 11).
about June 9, 2014, Plaintiff was employed as a spa facialist
aboard the M/S Crown Princess (the “Vessel”).
See Complaint ¶¶ 6-8. The Vessel was
owned, operated, managed, maintained, and/or controlled by
Princess. See Complaint ¶ 6. During the course
of her employment, Plaintiff lived aboard the Vessel.
Id. ¶ 10. On or about June 9, 2014, Defendant
Eddie Yamile Santa Cruz Reyes, a Princess employee working
aboard the vessel, allegedly raped Plaintiff. Id.
¶¶ 10-13, 42. As a result of the rape, Plaintiff
became pregnant and gave birth to a child. Id.
about May 17, 2017, Plaintiff filed this lawsuit in the
Circuit Court for the 11th Judicial Circuit in and for Miami
Dade County, Florida. See generally Id. at 1-2. The
action was originally titled Michelle Haasbroek v.
Princess Cruise Lines, Ltd., et al., case number
Complaint-which is still the operative complaint in this
action-Plaintiff lodges eight claims against Princess, the
Steiner Defendants, and Reyes (collectively,
“Defendants”). See Id. These claims
arise under the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C. § 30104. See
Id. ¶ 4. Specifically, in Counts I and II,
Plaintiff brings negligence claims against the Steiner
Defendants and Princess, respectively, for, inter
alia, their failure to provide Plaintiff a safe place to
work and reside aboard the Vessel and for their failure to
assist Plaintiff in the aftermath of the rape. See
Id. ¶¶ 16-27. In Count III, Plaintiff lodges a
claim of unseaworthiness against Princess on the grounds that
the Vessel, inter alia, did not have a properly
trained, instructed, or supervised crew, and did not have
adequate security, security equipment, or policies to prevent
rapes and/or sexual assaults. See Id. ¶¶
28-33. Plaintiff also lodges claims for the intentional tort
of sexual assault against both Princess (Count V) and Reyes
(Count VII), along with a claim of vicarious liability
against Princess (Count IV) premised on the same conduct.
See Id. ¶¶ 34-43, 50-52. In Count VI,
Plaintiff lodges a claim against the Steiner Defendants for
failing to provide maintenance and cure to Plaintiff. See
Id. ¶¶ 44-49. In Count VIII, Plaintiff lodges
a claim against all Defendants for wrongful birth, which was
allegedly due to the Reyes's sexual assault, for which
Princess is vicariously responsible, the negligence of the
Steiner Defendants and/or Princess, and the unseaworthiness
of Princess's vessel. See Id. ¶¶
53-58. All eight counts arise from the June 9, 2014 rape
aboard the Vessel.
26, 2017, the Steiner Defendants timely removed the action to
federal court on the grounds that this matter is subject to
arbitration pursuant to the Convention on the Recognition and
Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (the
“Convention”). See Notice of Removal (ECF No.
1); see also 9 U.S.C. § 205 (“Where the
subject matter of an action or proceeding pending in a State
court relates to an arbitration agreement or award falling
under the Convention, the defendant or the defendants may . .
. remove such action . . . .”). Subsequently, Princess
and the Steiner Defendants (collectively, the “Moving
Defendants”) moved to dismiss and compel arbitration in
the Bahamas pursuant to the SEA. See Arbitration
Motion (ECF No. 8) at 2-5.
opposes the Arbitration Motion, primarily on the ground that
the Arbitration Clause within the SEA does not cover the
subject matter of this action. See Opp. 3-14.
Plaintiff concludes that because the Arbitration Clause is
inapplicable, the Defendants have no other grounds for
removal and this matter should be remanded. Id. at
14. In the alternative, Plaintiff argues that even if the
Arbitration Clause covered claims against the Steiner
Defendants, claims against Princess are not subject to
arbitration and should be remanded because Princess is not a
party to the SEA, and thus it may not compel arbitration
under the Arbitration Clause. See Opp. 3-14.
Convention requires courts of signatory nations, such as the
United States, to give effect to private arbitration
agreements and to enforce arbitral awards made in signatory
nations. See United Nations Convention on the
Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, art.
I(1), June 10, 1958, 21 U.S.T. 2517, 330 U.N.T.S. 3; see
also Sierra v. Cruise Ships Catering & Servs. Int'l,
N.V., 631 Fed.Appx. 714, 715-16 (11th Cir. 2015). The
United States enforces its agreement to the Convention's
terms through Chapter 2 of the Federal Arbitration Act
(“FAA”). See 9 U.S.C. §§
201-208 (hereinafter, the “Convention Act”).
Convention Act “generally establishes a strong
presumption in favor of arbitration of international
commercial disputes.” Trifonov v. MSC Mediterranean
Shipping Co. SA, 590 F. App'x 842, 843 (11th Cir.
2014) (citation and quotation marks omitted). Relatedly, the
FAA “establishes that, as a matter of federal law, any
doubts concerning the scope of arbitrable issues should be
resolved in favor of arbitration.” Doe v. Princess
Cruise Lines, Ltd., 657 F.3d 1204, 1213 (11th Cir. 2011)
(citation and quotation marks omitted).
ruling on a motion to enforce an arbitration agreement under
the Convention, a district court conducts a “very
limited inquiry.” Bautista v. Star Cruises,
396 F.3d 1289, 1294-95 (11th Cir. 2005) (internal quotation
marks and citations omitted). As a threshold matter,
“[u]nder both the FAA and the Convention ‘the
first task of a court asked to compel arbitration of a
dispute is to determine whether the parties agreed to
arbitrate' it.” Doe, 657 F.3d at 1213 n.9
(quoting Mitsubishi Motors Corp. v. Soler
Chrysler-Plymouth, Inc., 473 U.S. 614, 626 (1985)). In
other words, “the parties will not be required to
arbitrate when they have not agreed to do so.”
Id. at 1214 (quoting Goldberg v. Bear, Stearns
& Co., 912 F.2d 1418, 1419 (11th Cir. 1990)). That
determination is guided by FAA principles. Id. at
that threshold consideration, a district court “must
order arbitration” unless the four jurisdictional
prerequisites are not met, or one of the Convention's
affirmative defenses applies. Bautista, 396 F.3d at
1294-95. The jurisdictional prerequisites require that
“(1) there is an agreement in writing within the
meaning of the Convention; (2) the agreement provides for
arbitration in the territory of a signatory of the
Convention; (3) the agreement arises out of a legal
relationship, whether contractual or not, which is considered
commercial; and (4) a party to the agreement is not an
American citizen, or that the commercial relationship has
some reasonable relation with one or more foreign
matter jurisdiction in this case is ultimately dependent on
the applicability of the” Arbitration Clause in the
SEA.See Wexler v. Solemates Marine, Ltd., No.
16-CV-62704, 2017 WL 979212, at *3 (S.D. Fla. Mar. 14, 2017).
If the arbitration clause in the SEA is applicable to all of
the claims at issue, including the claims made against the
other Defendants, then the Court has subject matter
jurisdiction to compel arbitration of all of those claims
pursuant to the Convention and the Convention Act, 9 U.S.C.
§§ 201-208. See, e.g., Pysarenko v.
Carnival Corp., No. 14-20010-CIV, 2014 WL 1745048, at *8
(S.D. Fla. Apr. 30, 2014), aff'd, 581 F.
App'x 844 (11th Cir. 2014). If, on the other hand, the
arbitration clause of the SEA is not applicable to some or
all of the claims at issue, then the Court does not have
subject matter jurisdiction of those claims and those claims
must be remanded. See Wexler, 2017 WL 979212 at *3;
see also, e.g., Florian v. Carnival Corp.,
No. 10-CV-20721, 2010 WL ...