Articles Posted in Miami-Dade County

A former employee of Royal Caribbean International who suffered a catastrophic injury in 2008 while she was working on board has been awarded $20.3 million.

In August 2008,  the woman was a marketing and revenue manager on the Miami-based cruise line’s Voyager of the Seas, which was sailing from Barcelona, Spain.

While in port, the ship was conducting a routine fire safety drill in which some of the vessel’s semi-watertight doors — powerful doors that prevent water from flooding the ship — are closed. A nurse from the port who was unaware of the drill tried to open one of the doors with a handle. The woman was on the other side.

According to the lawsuit, as the nurse tried to pass through the door, she fell, and the woman attempted to help her, but when she put her hand on the handle to keep the door open, the sliding door lurched back into its recess pocket in the wall, mashing her hand into a space only big enough to fit a pencil.

The woman’s hand was sucked into the door’s pocket three more times, breaking her middle finger and her index finger. The nails on both fingers were ripped from their cuticles.

Her suit argues that Royal Caribbean was negligent in its training to staff. Crew were not trained to operate the type of door that crushed the woman’s hand, and the nurse was not told by crew at the port that a security drill was taking place.

This is not the only incident of its kind. It seems that in the three years prior to the 2008 incident, 12 Royal Caribbean crew members suffered hand injuries when the doors slid back into their pockets, according to information Royal Caribbean provided during discovery in the case.

Following the woman’s injury, Royal Caribbean referred her to a doctor in Barcelona who misdiagnosed her condition and splinted her fingers in the wrong position, further worsening the damage. For two years, the woman underwent therapy in her home of New Zealand while Royal Caribbean paid her a daily disability payment of $25, as stipulated in her employee disability insurance coverage.

The woman was later diagnosed with a chronic pain syndrome associated with a nervous system malfunction, which causes severe pain that runs into her other arm and up to her head. She also suffered from post traumatic stress disorder following the accident. She is unable to properly move the fingers on her right hand.

By 2010, Royal Caribbean discharged the woman, citing that though her job on the ship was clerical, because of her injury, she would not be able to perform the necessary safety tasks that require lifting 50 pounds.

The woman sued in 2016. As part of the lawsuit, filed in judicial court in Miami-Dade County, the woman alleged that Royal Caribbean was negligent with regard to the door, failed to provide proper medical care, discharged her for a non-performance-related reason, breached its contract with her and failed to pay her full wages.

The three-week jury trial ended on Friday with the court ordering the cruise line to pay the woman $20.3 million in damages, lost wages. and future medical expenses.

Anyone that is injured while on the job wants to peace of mind of knowing that they will have access to medical treatment without the worry of their job being at stake. You also want to know that your employer has your best interests and safety in mind. Sadly, this is not always the case, especially in more dangerous jobs, such as working aboard a cruise ship.

Cruise ship employees, even those in clerical positions on board vessels, are often exposed to dangerous work conditions, long hours, and inadequate medical care.  If you are a cruise ship employee who has been injured while performing job-related duties, you are entitled to certain rights. Moreover, you could likely have a case against the cruise line for negligence, which is where our Florida Cruise Ship Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help. Our maritime lawyers have the knowledge and experience necessary to aggressively pursue injury claims against negligence cruise line employers.

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A 52-year-old Miami businessman has been given a 20 year prison sentence for his apparent role in a Medicare fraud scheme.

His eight homes around Miami-Dade County, at least three cars, and a meat supermarket have been seized as a part of his $66 million in restitution.

He apparently owns 19 healthcare agencies as well. According to court documents, he tried to hide his ownership of the health agencies as part of yet another massive South Florida Medicare scam.

He apparently recruited others to falsely and fraudulently represent themselves to be the owners of the agencies in order to hide his identity and ownership interest, according to the court documents. These nominee owners completed and signed Medicare enrollment applications that fraudulently misrepresented the identities of the agencies’ ownership interest and managing control of the true owners and failed to disclose the man’s ownership interest and managing control of the agency, contrary to Medicare’s requirements.

From 2007 through 2015, the man and his nominees are accused of paying patient recruiters kickbacks to refer Medicare beneficiaries to the man’s owned facilities. The facilities billed Medicare for expensive healthcare services such as physical therapy and home health. Most of the referred beneficiaries didn’t quality for home health services or the services were imaginary.

Medicare is a federal program that provides health insurance to all American citizens over the age of 65. The government treats medicare fraud quite seriously and will prosecute anyone suspected of defrauding the program.

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A longtime Miami police officer who patrolled the city’s waterways is also accused of running a ponzi scheme, according to feds.  

His alleged pitch: Invest in his Costa Rican loan company and expect returns of over 20 percent.

Federal prosecutors said Tuesday morning that the pitch was a scam after announcing criminal charges against the man. They claim the money was used only to enrich himself and pay back early investors.

The 41-year-old was arrested Monday after FBI agents learned he was suddenly flying to Costa Rica because of an “emergency.” Agents arrested the cop while he was boarding a flight at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

The man is charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Miami internal affairs and the FBI said the man operated his alleged Ponzi scheme between 2011 and 2015.

According to a criminal complaint, he offered “low-risk” investments in his company, which he claimed was giving high-interest loans to property owners in Costa Rica. The loan recipients used their properties in the Central American country as collateral, he said.

But feds claim the man just showed phony paperwork that claimed the company had property rights to land in Costa Rica.

Federal prosecutors did not disclose how much the man is suspected of getting through his investment scheme.

This case is clear example of a white collar crimes arrest. White collar crimes are non-violent offense committed for financial gain. These crimes are often investigated by state or federal agencies, and some of these investigations can carry on for months. Some of these investigations may continue for months. Anyone who is under investigation or has been arrested for a white collar crime should not talk to anyone, especially police, until consulting their legal counsel. Our South Florida White Collar Crimes Lawyers at Whittel & Melton understand the urgency of your situation and that immediate action must be taken to strengthen your defense.

Anytime police conduct an investigation, they may ask you to explain a few things. Regardless of your innocence, do not make the mistake of answering questions without your attorney present. Police are only looking to incriminate you. Our firm can help you avoid saying anything that could be construed as an admission of guilt.

At Whittel & Melton, we provide a powerful defense against white collar crimes, including:

  • Embezzlement
  • Fraud
  • Extortion
  • Tax fraud
  • Identity theft
  • RICO
  • Immigrations violations
  • Money laundering
  • Antitrust
  • Medicare and medicaid fraud
  • Ponzi schemes
  • Conspiracy

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Dozens of female University of Miami medical students believe a classmate has been stealing their photos from Facebook and social media and uploading them to sexual fetish websites.

Their car selfies, pics with friends at bars and the beach, even images of them in their graduation gowns have been copied and uploaded to foot-fetish fan sites and even just sites for men who masturbate while viewing images of everyday women — while sometimes photographing themselves doing so. The posts apparently identified the UM women by name, and included lewd captions, some seemingly threatening rape.

The suspected classmate accused of stealing these pics and uploading them to fetish sites is a 25-year-old UM medical student who has been suspended and is now the subject of an internal school investigation. The scandal came to light last week when at least two victims discovered their own photos on the websites and filed for restraining orders against the man.

The man’s behavior was apparently known to the school and classmates.

In a court filing, one student said she complained to the university several times since December 2015 about his “repeated acts of stalking and harassment” and of him taking unauthorized photos of her at a bar. A sexual harassment complaint was filed against the man in April 2016, and UM ordered him to stay away from her, although he was allowed to remain in school, according to her request for a restraining order.

Miami-Dade courts last week issued temporary restraining orders mandating the man keep away from the two women.

The medical school, citing federal laws protecting student privacy, declined to address questions about the man. “It is also our commitment to thoroughly investigate and adjudicate any allegations of inappropriate behavior among our students, while at the same time providing a safe atmosphere as an inquiry moves forward,” according to a statement released by the school.

One of the victims has notified the the State Attorney’s Office, which is reviewing the matter.

But making the case that the postings constitute a crime under state or federal law could be difficult. Why? The photos were posted on bulletin-board type websites that cater to foot fetishes and a niche sometimes known as “creep shots,” in which users fantasize or sexualize photos taken in public places. The problem in cases like these is that photos of the UM students were first published on social media by the women themselves – then co-opted into sexual fantasies.

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The former mayor of North Miami Beach has been charged in an alleged $150,000 land investment scheme.

The man was arrested Tuesday and charged with securities fraud, grand theft, sale of an unregistered security and sale of security by an unregistered dealer.

According to the Miami-Dade County state attorney’s office, the man made a series of false investment representations and omitted several facts to an investor who donated $150,000 to the man intended for the development of 2.2 acres of vacant land in North Miami.

An investigation by prosecutors and the Florida Office of Financial Regulation revealed that the partnership failed to gain any additional investors.

Instead of returning the donated $150,000, the money was allegedly used to pay $13,000 toward the former mayor’s home mortgage, $10,000 to his construction company, $86,700 to himself directly and about $30,000 in personal expenses through his construction company, according to police.

Prosecutors said a balance of just $350 was left in the investment account when all was said and done.

The former mayor was being held at the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center on a $20,000 bond.

Securities fraud, otherwise known as investment fraud, is an intentional and deceptive business practice that occurs when a person and/or company conceals financial information to try to influence the purchasing behavior of investors and shareholders. People found guilty of securities fraud can face serious penalties that may include restitution, fines, jail time loss of license and others. If you are facing charges for any type of securities fraud offense, it is critical that you seek the advice of a South Florida White Collar Crimes Lawyer at Whittel & Melton who will fight to protect your interests.

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A woman alleges she was injured after falling between a lifeboat and a dock on a Norwegian Cruise Line ship.

The woman filed a complaint on March 10 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida alleging negligence.

According to the complaint, the woman alleges that on Feb. 16, 2016, she suffered physical injuries after falling between a dock and a lifeboat. The suit states that the woman was attempting to board the lifeboat to be transported back to the cruise ship from docks in the Virgin Islands. She holds Norwegian Cruise Line responsible because they allegedly failed to assist or provide her a safe means to board the lifeboat.

Cruise lines have a duty to keep their ships safe and free from hazardous conditions that can cause serious injuries to passengers. When a cruise ship accident occurs due to poor maintenance, lack of security, or improperly trained staff, the cruise line can be held legally responsible for negligence.

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Eleventh Judicial Circuit Judge Milton Hirsch ruled on Friday that Miami-Dade’s policy of holding undocumented immigrants in jail at the request of the federal government is unconstitutional.

The judge said the policy is a violation of the Tenth Amendment five weeks after Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez decided the city would no longer be considered a “sanctuary” for undocumented immigrants.

The ruling stems from a Haitian national who pleaded guilty to a felony charge of habitually driving on a suspended license in Miami-Dade. The man was supposed to be released on time served, but remained in custody at the request of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

In his ruling, Hirsch said the county has neither a reason nor a basis in law to keep the man in prison. He also added that the federal government is constitutionally prohibited from forcing the county to make the man a prisoner, and the county is prohibited from complying with that demand.

President Donald Trump is very serious about cracking down on illegal immigration. He is adamant about deporting illegal immigrants who have criminal records and reducing illegal immigration throughout the country.

Florida has approximately 900,000 illegal immigrants. Because of this, it is no wonder that our state is at the center of new illegal immigration laws and their implementation.

Whether you are illegal or documented, our South Florida Federal Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton urge you to keep your documents on you at all times. It is also a good idea to have an attorney on hand on the off chance that a database error prompts deportation proceedings.

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A North Carolina couple allege they were beaten by another passenger while traveling on the Carnival Ecstasy.

The couple filed a lawsuit on Feb. 18 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida against Carnival Corp., alleging negligence.

According to the complaint, the couple alleges that on Feb. 28, 2016 they were in their cabin when someone knocked at the door. When they opened the door, the attacker pushed the door open and knocked the man down, pinning him with his knees and severely beat and assaulted him. The woman alleges that she was also struck in the face and injured.

The couple holds Carnival Corp. responsible because they failed to provide adequate and proper security to its passengers and violated its own policy by selling excessive alcoholic beverages to the couples’ attacker.

They are seeking more than $100,000 each, costs of this action and such other appropriate relief.

Cruise lines have a duty to provide guests with a safe environment. If an employee is aware of a danger and chooses not to address it, the cruise ship company can be held liable for the damages associated with an assault that occurs as a result.

The most common causes of assault aboard cruises include:

  • Inadequate security
  • Poor lighting
  • Incomplete background checks on employees
  • Broken door locks

If you have been harmed on a cruise ship, you should take immediate action. Timing plays a major role in these cases and you want to report the crime as soon as possible to strengthen your case.

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A 13-year-old girl has been arrested after police claim she brought a loaded gun to school in Miami Gardens.

Miami-Dade Schools spokeswoman told local media that the girl brandished the gun at two classmates Wednesday morning before classes started at Carol City Middle School. A school staff member confiscated the weapon.

The student now faces four weapons charges.

An adult who lives at the student’s home, was arrested and charged with failing to secure a weapon from a minor.

Weapons charges are taken very seriously by state prosecutors, which is why these charges must be dealt with accordingly. There is much as stake when it comes to the consequences attached to these charges, especially when the person charged is a minor.

Juvenile courts tend to sentence minors who are charged with weapons-related offenses in a manner that promotes rehabilitation rather than punishment. Most juvenile courts choose to penalize minors through community service and probation. However, in certain serious cases involving weapons, juveniles could be tried as adults.

Our Florida Juvenile Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help you if your child is facing a weapons charge. Call us today at 561-367-8777 to discuss your juvenile weapons charge and learn how we can help you navigate the court system. As former prosecutors, we know what it takes to achieve a successful outcome in a juvenile weapons case and we will fight aggressively to make sure that we do everything we can to prevail.

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Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez  was killed early Sunday in a boating crash in Miami, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

The 24-year-old and two other people died when their 32-foot vessel slammed into a jetty off Miami Beach, authorities said.

Two bodies were found under the vessel and a third was found on the jetty, according to the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue’s Marine Services Bureau.

It does not appear that speed was a factor and there was no immediate indication that alcohol or drugs were a cause in the crash. None of the three victims wore a life jacket, and that the boat was owned by a friend of Fernandez’s.

Our South Florida Boating Accident Lawyers at Whittel & Melton help those who have suffered personal injuries or lost loved ones in boating accidents and collisions throughout the state of Florida. Many factors can contribute to a boating accident either on a privately owned vessel or on a personal watercraft, like a jet ski. Some of these factors include:

  • Driver Inexperience
  • Driver Error
  • Operating A Boat Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol
  • Equipment Failure
  • Bad weather and/or water conditions

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