Seamen, who were members of the Maersk Alabama
when it was hijacked by pirates in April 2009, last week sued Waterman Steamship Corp. and Maersk Line Ltd. in state court in Alabama, complaining of "permanent physical and emotional injuries."
The ship is owned by Maersk and operated by Waterman for a Maersk feeder service between the Persian Gulf and West Africa.
Courthouse News Service
said 11 seamen have filed three complaints in Mobile County Court.
The chief cook of the ship had filed a lawsuit
against his former employer and the operator of the ship just weeks after the incident, saying the company had failed to adequately protect him from pirates.
The lawsuits were also reported by the gCaptain
blog which posted a copy of one of the complaints
, by nine seamen, on its Website.
That complaint says the companies exposed the seafarers to "grave danger" and "showed a willful, wanton and conscious disregard for the safety" of the plaintiffs and other officers and crew of the Maersk Alabama
and did so primarily for financial gain.
"Each of the plaintiffs suffered injuries to their limbs, back and body generally, together with severe emotional distress and mental anguish, including post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and sleep disorders, and other physical and emotional injuries which will be proved at trial," the complaint said.
The complaint added the injuries "rendered plaintiffs not fit for duty and unable to work for a period of time, unable to return to their calling, and caused them permanent physical and emotional injuries from which they shall never recover. As a result, plaintiffs suffered a loss of earnings in the past, as well as a loss of future earnings and loss of earning capacity."
The plaintiffs have asked for a jury trial and seek maintenance and cure for their injuries, in addition to other compensatory and punitive damages.
Trauma suffered by victims of piracy is the subject of research underway by the Seamen’s Church Institute. It plans to release a study on the psychological impact of piracy on seafarers at the International Congress of Psychology in Cape Town, South Africa in late July 2012.
It has recently begun posting videos
of seafarers telling their own stories about being held hostage.
Meanwhile, a Hollywood movie about the Maersk Alabama
hijacking is being filmed in Massachusetts and Malta. — Chris Dupin