Broker Check

July 31, 2007

Tax Quote

          When it comes to finance, remember that there are no withholding taxes on the wages of sin.  Mae West

Going Cruisin’

          Modern cruise ships are best viewed as floating hotels that transport their guests from exotic port to exotic port where they stay for a few hours for shopping, snorkeling, scuba diving, jet skiing, parasailing and touring.  While a cruisevacation may be the best travel value available, even the most luxurious floating hotels can harbor dangers- everything from slip and fall injuries to sexual assault to rogue waves to medical malpractice.
          Although there can be problems on the cruise ship, generally it is safer to be onboard than on a shore excursion where there may be uncertainty about the provider of the services.  Is the provider-
                    1. insured,
                    2. licensed, and
                    3. trained?
          Has the cruise line evaluated the reliability of the provider?
          Has the cruise line assumed responsibility for any injuries suffered by the passengers or has it disclaimed liability for any injuries which passengers might sustain during the shore excursion?  The danger of participating in shore excursions was recently demonstrated when 12 cruise passengers were killed during a stay over in Chile.  The passengers made a side excursion to see the mountains and their tour bus tumbled down the mountainside over 300 feet .
          Passengers should be aware that the cruise ship’s duties and liabilities are governed not by modern consumer oriented law but by 19th century legal principles, the purpose being to insulate cruise lines from the legitimate claims of passengers.

          Common travel problems experienced by cruise passengers include death and physical injury caused by-
                    1.   slips, trips, and falls
                    2.   disappearance
                    3.   drownings and pool accidents
                    4.   flying coconuts
                    5.   stray golf balls
                    6.   discharged shotgun shells and canons
                    7.   food poisoning
                    8.   sea sicknees, gastro intestinal disorders and fear
                    9.   pirates
                    10. rogue waves
                    11. listing
                    12. defective exercise equipment
                    13. Legionnaire’s disease and respiratory infection
                    14. rapes and sexual assaults
                    15. fire
                    16. falling bunk beds
                    17. pool jumping
                    18. storms and hurricanes
                    19. spider bites
                    20. torture and hostage taking
                    21. malpractice by the ship’s doctor

          Cruise ships are common carriers and recently have been governed by a reasonable standard or care, not a high standard.  The doctrine of comparative negligence and assumption of risk apply.  The cruise line may  be vicariously liable for the sexual misconduct of its employees and the malpractice of the ship’s doctor.  They are less likely to be held liable for onboard accidents.
          All cruise ships touching U.S. ports must comply with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  State dram shop acts creating liability for the purposes of alcoholic beverages to patrons that subsequently injure third parties have been inconsistently applied to cruise ships.  The shore excursions from which cruise ships may generate substantial income are typically delivered by independent contractors not subject to the jurisdiction of U.S. courts and may be uninsured, unlicensed and irresponsible.
          If you want more information in this area or think you may have a need for legal help, we have relations with one of the most respected international and admiralty law firms in the United States. NYSBA Journal March-April, 2007 p.11

Rock & Roll is Here to Stay

          Once upon a time stupid executives at a company called Viacom had a top radio station 101.1 CBS FM which played Golden Oldies from the 50’s and 60’s 24 hours a day.  The dumb executives fired all the New York DJs and changed to a format where prerecorded Canadian quips accompanied hits from the 70’s and 80’s (Were there hits in the 70’s and 80’s?     
          Life was gloomier without the Bristol Stomp and Del Shannon’s Runaway.         
          The station’s ranking sank to #16 and I imagine so did their ad revenue.
          Now, admitting they were wrong, they have hired back Harry Harrison and most of the DJs and restored the music format where the DJs pick their own songs (no more prerecorded Canadian quips)
          Now, if only Cousin Brucie will come back from Sirius!!

          If you have questions about the foregoing or any other financial matters, please call us.  We are always available to see if we can help your family or friends.

          Remember, We’re Here for You!!