11th Circuit Affirms Judge King in Cruise Line Arbitration Decision.

From what I’ve seen, Judge King has been one of the more exacting SD FL judges when considering the scope and validity of arbitration provisions.

In a significant decision involving horrific allegations on a Princess cruise ship, Judge Carnes has for the most part affirmed Judge King’s decision that the claims fall outside the scope of the arbitration clause and thus may proceed publicly in federal court.

As usual, Judge Carnes begins with a snazzy introduction:

On its website, Princess Cruise Lines proclaims to the world, as one of its “core values,” that: “The safety and security of our passengers and employees is our most important responsibility.”  The cruise line says that it recognizes crew members as its “greatest asset,” and shows its appreciation to them by making their “life onboard the best it can be.”  It boasts of making “every effort possible to offer its crew members an enjoyable environment and a rewarding career.”

All of those statements are but empty words, and cynical ones at that, if the allegations in the complaint that is before us are to be believed.

See kids, this is why you have to add this type of flavor to a well-pled complaint. I also like Judge Carnes’ discussion of “invited error”:

Princess Cruise Lines contends that we should reverse the district court’s denial of its motion to compel arbitration for two reasons. One of those reasons is its contention that the district court should not have decided the arbitrability issue but instead should have sent that issue, along with the others, to an arbitrator for decision. This contention is a non-starter because, as the cruise line concedes, it asked the district court to decide for itself whether the dispute was subject to arbitration. Only when the matter was illuminated by the light of an unfavorable decision from the district court did the cruise line suddenly see that the court ought not have answered the question after all.

The invited error doctrine stands for the common sense proposition that someone who invites a court down the primrose path to error should not be heard to complain that the court accepted its invitation and went down that path.

In other words — chutzpah. 

BTW the Arbitration Fairness Act, introduced in 2009 and reintroduced earlier this year, remains stalled in Congress (what else is new?).