Love Boat Lobby Fights BP Victims

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


A few weeks ago, I wrote a story about how the families of the Deepwater Horizon explosion victims can’t really sue for major damages over BP’s negligence in the explosion, thanks to an ancient maritime law called the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA). The story predicted that while Congress was attempting to remedy that situation with the SPILL Act, one of the biggest obstacles to justice for the rig workers would not be BP but the cruise ship industry, whose passengers occasionally suffer untimely deaths, disappearances and other accidents at sea.

Well, turns out the Love Boat lobby has indeed stepped up to do BP’s dirty work in fighting the SPILL Act. Late Tuesday, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) sent a letter to members of the Florida congressional delegation “strongly” opposing the bill because it would allow cruise ship victims to sue the companies for noneconomic damages. That would open the industry up to real liability for all the crime and other bad stuff that happens to hapless passengers. CLIA says the bill would expose it to lawsuits that could prove to be extremely unpredictable, the same line Exxon took in its many appeals of the Valdez lawsuit. CLIA is joined in its campaign by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which naturally is opposed to any law that might make it easier for the little people to sue big corporations that kill them.

How the floating hotel biz will fare is unclear. Lobbying on the other side along with the BP workers’ families are the Parents of Murdered Children, the National Center for Victims of Crime, and the International Cruise Victims Association, which is made up of lots of families of people who went on cruises and never came back. They have pretty compelling stories to combat the industry’s need for “predictability.” But as Kendell Carver, ICA’s president, wrote on June 17 to Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), the cruise ship industry has spent millions to avoid liability for accidents on its ships (some of which seem like the stuff of a summer blockbuster disaster movie). Meanwhile, ICV is an all-volunteer organization with pretty much no money to fight back. We’ll see whose influence prevails this afternoon, when the House is scheduled to vote on the bill.

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Corporations and billionaires don’t fund journalism like ours that exists to shake things up. Instead, support from readers allows Mother Jones to call it like it is without fear, favor, or false equivalence.

And right now, a longtime friend of Mother Jones has pledged an incredibly generous gift to inspire—and double—giving from online readers. That's huge! Because you can see that our fall fundraising drive is well behind the $325,000 we need to raise. So if you agree that in-depth, fiercely independent journalism matters right now, please support our work and help us raise the money it takes to keep Mother Jones charging hard. Your gift, and all online donations up to $94,000 total, will be matched and go twice as far—but only until the November 9 deadline.

$400,000 to go: Please help us pick up the pace!

payment methods

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Corporations and billionaires don’t fund journalism like ours that exists to shake things up. Instead, support from readers allows Mother Jones to call it like it is without fear, favor, or false equivalence.

And right now, a longtime friend of Mother Jones has pledged an incredibly generous gift to inspire—and double—giving from online readers. That's huge! Because you can see that our fall fundraising drive is well behind the $325,000 we need to raise. So if you agree that in-depth, fiercely independent journalism matters right now, please support our work and help us raise the money it takes to keep Mother Jones charging hard. Your gift, and all online donations up $94,000 total, will be matched and go twice as far—but only until the November 9 deadline.

$400,000 to go: Please help us pick up the pace!

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate