This April, Michael Ehline of Ehline Law Firm PC joined members of International Cruise Victims (“ICV”) in a pro bono effort to lobby congress on behalf of the victims of cruise ship crimes and negligence. The two bills the firm is supporting are for the House, H.R 3142 and for the Senate, S.1611. Ehline, a father of two, has litigated many cruise ship injury claims on behalf of Princess Cruise victims over the last ten (10) years.
He befriended Ken Carver years ago and has traveled to Washington DC previously on this same mission. The latest trip by Ehline was designed to help ICV garner support for new legislation from some of the more conservative members of congress. These two particular bills, one introduced in the House and the other in the Senate are needed due to the legislative regulations from our last efforts having been watered down so much that many no longer mirror their original purpose. In fact Jamie Barnett, chair of ICV, believes that the proposed regulations look like they were spoon fed to the rule makers by the cruise industry.
This comes as no surprise to Ehline, who has seen his fair share of cruise lobbyists use their monetary influence to cause what he believes is the purposeful weakening of existing laws favoring cruise ship victims. Ken Carver was also there to honor all the volunteers over the years who assisted ICV. ICV was formed on January 1, 2006. Originally, four families of victims formed ICV. Since that time it has grown into a worldwide organization. During one of the meetings with the offices of Ted Cruz, attorney Ehline pointed out that cruise lines are famous for hiring cheap employees from countries that have no way of conducting back ground checks. Many of these countries are openly hostile to the U.S. and believe that women are supposed to be covered from head to toe.
If not, many of these men have been taught from youth that the woman is considered to be “easy” and even a prostitute (Source.) In fact, many female rape victims on cruises have been assaulted by these very types of male employees who originated from these types of religious fundamentalist countries. No classes we are aware of are offered to these employees to teach them to respect women and western values. Europe, after trying to cover it up, is now being forced to take extreme measures, such as teaching Muslim immigrants not to rape or grope women who don’t live under Sharia Law (1, 2.) Rapes against local women in Norway by so called “refugees” are up over 100% (Source.)
And just like Norway, these rapists on cruises also like to rape little kids (Source.) Cruise lines seem to be following the U.S. policy of allowing mass immigration on to their ships. But here, instead of free housing and little vetting, etc, these male cruise ship workers are being offered low paying wages on cruise ships that cater to drunk, half naked women in bikinis (in many cases.)
This is not just a democrat or republican issue. This is an issue for all public servants who place American safety at the forefront. We are hopeful that Senator Cruz will join our efforts at forcing cruise lines to be accountable to the American people. We are also hopeful that he will offer amendments to the bill so we can make sure there are not Jihadis working on cruise ships where Americans frequent. Has anyone here ever heard of the Achile Laurel incident?
On October 7, 1985, four men representing the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF) hijacked the Italian MS Achille Lauro liner off the coast of Egypt, as she was sailing from Alexandria to Ashdod, Israel. The hijacking was masterminded by Muhammad Zaidan, leader of the PLF. One 69-year-old Jewish American man in a wheelchair, Leon Klinghoffer, was murdered by the hijackers and thrown overboard. A 2009 book entitled International Legal Dimension of Terrorism called the attackers “terrorists”.  (Source.)
Of course, the other issues addressed in these bills go deeper, and are designed to prevent these foreign flagged ships to stop “losing” video taped evidence, and install the man overboard systems that are already supposed to be on the ships sailing to and from the U.S. Ehline attended many meetings, including ones in congressional offices, and was there to support Carver for his meetings at the headquarters of the FBI and Coast Guard.
The proposed regulations ICV was questioning there had to do with legislative compliance under the 2010 CVSSA. Administrative agencies like the Coast Guard write the rules that are based upon the laws. Here, it is thought that the cruise industry has used its influence to get agency heads to water down the rules. Ehline could not even get into the room it was so packed, so he had to stand outside and view the show on CSPAN. The room was filled with high ranking military and political officials. There was no room to even sit down!
The Proposed Agency Regulations are So Watered Down they No Longer Have any Teeth and Look like they Were Written By the Cruise Lines
Carver testified on how the proposed U.S Coast Guard regulations were so watered down that they lack any teeth and why we need new legislation to make sure the cruise industry stops gerrymandering or interfering with passenger rights. It appears that the cruise industry has many senators, congressmen and even government agency heads in their hip pocket. This must end.
You will recall that this fight started with the support of Republicans but some how ended up being claimed as a Democrat issue. Presently, Senator Blumenthal, Congresswoman Matsui, and Congressman Himes are its greatest champions. They also spoke at the reception and it was really awesome to have them fighting on our behalf. Some ICV victims boldly stated their grievances. There were stories of rape, beatings, man overboard and more. Particularly shocking was the story of a teen rape victim and another story by the family of a daughter who died due to receiving inadequate triage care on a ship during a stroke.
Another family spoke of their voyage on the Costa Concordia off the coast of Italy. They were lucky to have escaped the ship before it sank. These are just a few of the stories of harrowing problems aboard cruises. Ehline was to profoundly thankful everyone, in particular Jamie Barnett, for keeping the memory of cruise ship victims alive. This could be your son or daughter.
Cruise ships also legally skirt U.S. income tax laws, wrongful death laws of our many states, and yet rely upon at least 20 tax funded agencies to help them make their business model successful.
… foreign-based cruise lines earn from ships that embark or disembark nearly 15 million passengers a year in the United States. A string of recent incidents has demonstrated that when cruise ships get into trouble, the companies rely on the resources and assistance of the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard. The industry also uses the services of over 20 other U.S. agencies to the tune of millions of taxpayer dollars every year.
The majority of cruise companies are organized as foreign corporations, even though many of their headquarters and executives are located in the United States. By incorporating in foreign countries, the cruise industry enjoys a special exemption under section 883 of the Internal Revenue Code, which provides that certain foreign corporations are not subject to U.S. taxes on income derived from the international operation of ships, even if the source of the income is in the United States. [Emphasis.] (Source.)
As can be seen, the billion dollar cruise industry has a pretty sweet deal. It is high time that the cruise industry install the man overboard systems they were supposed to have installed years ago. It is time for senators and congressmen to stop taking their hush money. It is time for administrative agencies to be barred from having their employees promised jobs and other perks from the cruise industry.
In baby steps, with little to no money and a lot of motivated parents and survivors, Ehline is confident that ICV and victims around the world will prevail. Michael Ehline is a cruise ship victims rights attorney in Los Angeles, California. He was voted cruise ship attorney of the year, has been featured in CNN and has lobbied congress for the rights of victims.
Ehline is also a former U.S. Marine and staunch defender of the Second Amendment. Michael also teaches a women’s rape defense course as part of his public service obligations as a free thinking American. If you would like to learn more about ICV, Ehline Law Firm PC, or any of their other lobbying efforts, you may call Ehline at (213) 596-9642. “Doing good is not a political issue, it is an American duty.” – Ehline.