1. The Court has jurisdiction of this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and
1345, and 42 U.S.C. § 12188(b)(1)(B).
Court has authority to grant equitable relief, declaratory relief, monetary damages
and civil penalties under 42 U.S.C. § 12188(b)(2) and 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201
United States filed this action to enforce provisions of the Americans with
Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101 et seq., against
Defendants, NCL (Bahamas) Ltd., a Bermuda Corporation, and NCL America LLC
f/k/a NCL America, Inc. (collectively "NCL"). Between 2003 and 2007, the
United States alleges that NCL violated Title III of the ADA by failing to
provide auxiliary aids and services to certain individuals who are deaf or hard
of hearing, and accessible bus transportation to individuals with mobility
disabilities within the United States, and by denying such persons the
opportunity to fully participate in and benefit from the goods and services of
NCL's cruise ships.
Title III of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. § 12181(7) and 28 C.F.R. § 36.104, cruise ships
are places of public accommodation. NCL is a private entity and owns, leases
or operates places of public accommodation and is, therefore, a public
accommodation within the meaning of Title III of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12181(7)
and 28 C.F.R. § 36.104.
5. NCL is primarily
engaged in the business of transporting people and its operations affect
commerce, and therefore is covered by Title III of the ADA as a specified
public transportation service, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12184(a), 42 U.S.C. 12181(10), on
NCL cruises originating and terminating in the United States.
United States Department of Justice ("United States" or "Department") is the
federal agency that has primary responsibility for administering and enforcing
Title III of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12181-12189.
Consent Decree ("Decree") resolves an investigation of NCL conducted by the
Department between 2003 and 2007 relating to certain complaints made by the guests
named below who filed complaints alleging that NCL violated Title III of the ADA
by failing to provide auxiliary aids and services to individuals who are deaf
or hard of hearing and accessible bus transportation to individuals who have
mobility disabilities within the United States, and by denying such persons the
opportunity to fully participate in and benefit from the goods and services of
NCL's cruise ships.
set forth more specifically below in the Contentions of the Parties, NCL specifically
denies all of the allegations made by the United States both herein and in the
Complaint and maintains that it has not violated the ADA in any manner.
order to avoid the costs, expense and uncertainty of protracted litigation, NCL
and the United States have agreed to enter into this Decree to resolve all past
and present individual complaints and all of the allegations raised in the Complaint
filed by the United States as to all claimants known or unknown resulting from
any and all incidents or complaints of alleged ADA violations relating to
auxiliary aids and services for guests who are deaf or hard of hearing or accessible
bus transportation for guests who have mobility disabilities. The United
States agrees that settlement of these allegations without litigation is in the
Decree shall be a full, complete, and final disposition and settlement of all claims
made by the United States and the complainants known or unknown at this time
and of all alleged past and present ADA violations relating to auxiliary aids
and services for guests who are deaf or hard of hearing or accessible bus
transportation for guests who have mobility disabilities. The parties agree
there has been no admission or finding of liability or violation of the ADA and
this Agreement should not be construed as such.
CONTENTIONS OF THE
The Contentions of
the United States
11. The United
States alleges that the complainants all purchased tickets for their cruise
from travel agents located in the United States or directly from NCL.
United States, under its authority granted by the ADA, 42 U.S.C. §12188,
investigated complaints against NCL. The United States made the following
findings based upon the results of its investigation. NCL failed to provide
auxiliary aids and services to Daryl Israel, his children Jessica and Zachary
Israel, Eliza Polk, and Alan Weiser, all of
whom are deaf, in violation of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. §12182 and 28 C.F.R. Part 36
and 49 C.F.R. Part 37. Also, NCL failed to
provide accessible bus transportation to Phyllis Jacobs, Kimmarie Drown, Kevin
New, and Franz Soni, all of whom have mobility
disabilities, in violation of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. §§12182 and 12184, 28 C.F.R.
Part 36 and 49 C.F.R. Part 37.
United States thus determined that NCL denied auxiliary aids and services to individuals
who are deaf or hard of hearing and denied accessible bus transportation to guests
with mobility disabilities thereby denying them the full and equal enjoyment of
NCL's goods, services and facilities in violation of the ADA, and engaging in a
pattern and practice of discrimination. 42 U.S.C. §§12182(a), 12184(a),
12182(b)(2)(A)(iii), 12184(b)(2)(B), 28 C.F.R. §36.201(a), 36.303(a) and 49 C.F.R.
§37.5(f). In addition, the Department found that such discrimination raises an
issue of general public importance, 42 U.S.C. §12188(b)(1)(B), and violates
specific provisions of the ADA. 42 U.S.C. 12182(b)(1)(A)(i) and 28 C.F.R.
§36.202(a); 42 U.S.C. §12182(b)(1)(A)(ii) and §36.202(b); 42 U.S.C.
§§12182(b)(2)(A)(ii), 12184(b)(2)(A); 28 C.F.R. §36.302(a) and 49 C.F.R.
§37.5(f); 42 U.S.C. §12182(b)(2)(A)(iii), 12184(b)(2)(B); 28 C.F.R. §36.303(a)
and 49 C.F.R. §37.5(f); 42 U.S.C. §12182(b)(2)(D)(ii) and 49 C.F.R. §37.195(b);
42 U.S.C. §12182(b)(2)(c) and 49 C.F.R. §37.101(d), (e); and 42 U.S.C.
§12182(b)(2)(D)(ii) and 49 C.F.R. §37.167(e), (g). See Complaint filed by the
maintains that it has not violated the ADA in any way.
asserts that it has provided and continues to provide auxiliary aids to guests who are
deaf or hard of hearing and accessible transportation to guests with mobility disabilities in compliance with the ADA. It is NCL's policy that
guests who are deaf or hard of hearing or who have mobility disabilities
should be treated in the same or similar manner as guests without disabilities to
the greatest extent possible.
(a) "Auxiliary Aids and Services"
means, for example, qualified sign language, oral, or relay interpreters, note
takers, computer-assisted real time transcription services, written materials,
the exchange of hand written notes, telephone handset amplifiers, assistive
listening devices, assistive listening systems, telephones compatible with
hearing aids, closed caption decoders, open and closed captioning, TTY's,
acquisition or modification of equipment or devices, video interpreting
services, and other methods of delivering effective communication to
individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. See 28 C.F.R. § 36.303(b).
(b) "TTY" means a
device that is used with a telephone to communicate with persons who are deaf
or hard of hearing by typing and reading communications.
communication" means communication with persons with disabilities that is as
effective as communication with others. Effective communication is achieved by
furnishing appropriate auxiliary aids and services where necessary to afford an
individual with a disability an equal opportunity to participate in or benefit
from a good, service, facility, privilege, advantage, or accommodation that is
afforded to other individuals. 28 C.F.R. § 36.303(c).
(d) "Initial Response."
with Three Weeks Notice. Initial Response
means guests will receive a written response within one week of a request for a
reasonable accommodation as to whether the request will be met or not, if the
request is made at least three weeks prior to sailing.
with Less than Three Weeks Notice. If a
guest makes a request for a reasonable accommodation within three weeks prior
to sailing, NCL shall make its best effort to provide the requested
accommodation as required by the ADA, including any available auxiliary aids,
and shall attempt to respond to the guest as to whether the reasonable
accommodation can be met as expeditiously as possible. Some requests made
within three weeks prior to sailing may not be able to be met due to short
Cruises. NCL shall respond to a request
for a reasonable accommodation made during a cruise within 24-48 hours. It is
NCL's policy and practice to respond to all requests for
reasonable accommodation, including those which NCL was not notified pre-cruise,
as expeditiously as possible under the circumstances.
Date" is the date of the entry of the Decree.
under the ADA. NCL shall continue to ensure
that it does not discriminate against individuals with disabilities on the
basis of such disability as required by the ADA.
Modifications. NCL shall continue to make
reasonable modifications in policies, practices, and procedures as required by
(b) Integration. NCL shall continue to ensure that individuals with
disabilities are fully integrated into each vessel's population as required by
18. Oversight. NCL's Senior Vice President and General Counsel
shall have overall responsibility for implementing this Decree and compliance
with the ADA.
Desk and Access Desk Manager
Desk Manager's Responsibilities. The
Access Desk Manager oversees one or more employees who handle requests for
reasonable accommodations from guests with
disabilities that are presented to the Access Desk pre-cruise. The Access Desk
Manager has had, and will continue to have, the responsibility and authority to
respond to and act on requests for accommodations from guests with disabilities
pre-cruise and, if necessary, to escalate the specific request to the Senior
Vice President and General Counsel for a final decision pre-cruise.
Desk Procedures. NCL has had an Access
Desk to address the requests of guests with disabilities for reasonable
accommodations pre-cruise. During the term of
this Decree, NCL shall continue to maintain an Access Desk or its substantial
equivalent. The Access Desk shall continue to address
all requests for reasonable accommodations from guests with disabilities that
are brought to the attention of the Access Desk within one (1) week of receipt
of the request, including requests for auxiliary aids and for accessible bus
transportation. The Access Desk shall make an Initial Response to a pre-cruise
request for reasonable accommodation. If the Access Desk Manager cannot satisfy
the request, the Access Desk Manager shall escalate the specific request, at
the same time as the Initial Response to the guest, to the Senior Vice
President and General Counsel for a final determination within 24 hours of the
Access Desk shall continue to coordinate with other departments within NCL,
including the Customer Relations Department, on responses to requests for
reasonable accommodations and ADA-related issues.
Access Desk shall retain records of requests for accommodations, and all of
NCL's response(s) to such requests, made by guests who are deaf or hard of
hearing or guests with mobility disabilities for a period of six (6) months from
the date of the request.
successor Access Manager during the term of this Decree shall have the same or
similar training in disability issues and background in the cruise line
industry as the current Access Desk Manager.
Relations Manager. The Customer Relations
Manager has had, and will continue to have, responsibility for overseeing requests
for reasonable accommodations from guests with disabilities both during and
after cruises. The Customer Relations Manager shall continue to have the same
responsibilities as well as those set forth in subparagraphs (a)-(d) below during
the term of this Decree.
cruises, the Customer Relations Manager (or the Access Desk Manager) shall be
the point of contact for the Access Officer in the event that an accommodation
request cannot be met.
the Customer Relations Manager (or the Access Desk Manager) is unable to timely
accommodate a disabled guest's request for a reasonable accommodation that was
escalated by the Access Officer during the cruise, the Customer Relations
Manager (or the Access Desk Manager) must timely escalate the request to the
Senior Vice President and General Counsel for a final decision within 24 hours
of the escalation.
Customer Relations Manager is the point of contact for handling and responding
to all post-cruise inquiries from guests with disabilities.
purposes of this paragraph, "Customer Relations Manager" shall mean the actual
Customer Relations Manager and/or the Supervisor of Customer Relations.
Officers on NCL Vessels. NCL has
installed on each vessel an Access Officer who shall assist and respond to requests
for reasonable accommodations from guests with disabilities during cruises. The
duties of an Access Officer shall include:
with the Access Desk, Access Desk Manager and Customer Relations Manager to
timely resolve requests for reasonable accommodations from guests with
disabilities made pre-cruise and during cruises.
the authority on the vessel to timely grant requests for reasonable accommodation
under the ADA and escalating any request for reasonable accommodation that
cannot be timely resolved to the appropriate vessel personnel or Customer
Relations or Access Desk Managers. All requests for reasonable accommodation
of which NCL was not notified pre-cruise will be handled as expeditiously as
possible under the circumstances.
that all accommodations that NCL has agreed to provide are in place and ready
for the guest on embarkation day, excluding any requested accommodation that is
not within the control of the Access Officer (e.g., failure of an interpreter to
report for assigned duty is an example of something beyond the Access Officer's
Training. The Access Desk and Customer
Relations Managers, the Access Officers and any NCL staff with duties that
include significant contact with guests shall receive Title III ADA training,
including its effective communication requirements and the procedure for
receiving, documenting and responding to disability-related requests. NCL shall have six (6) months from the
Effective Date of this Agreement to initially train Access Officers on each
vessel and all employees who have direct contact with guests. NCL may
videotape the original training or use other means for the training of new
Aids and Services. NCL shall continue to
provide auxiliary aids and services to guests who are deaf or hard of hearing in
compliance with the ADA and case law applying the ADA on all cruises
originating from or returning to the United States, including all shore
excursions in the United States that were purchased through NCL.
contracts with independent shore excursion vendors who offer shore excursions
in the United States and who are obligated to comply with the requirements of
the ADA, including the provisions on auxiliary aids and services (see 28 C.F.R. §36.303). Within six (6) months of the
effective date of the Decree, NCL will insert a
provision on all shore excursion contracts entered into after the entry of this
Consent Decree requiring the vendor to represent and warrant that all shore
excursions purchased by NCL guests in the United States shall comply with the
information relating to shore excursions and other services provided on NCL's
internal television channel shall also be available in a written format from
the Access Officer, the Guest Services Desk or the Shore Excursions Desk. Each
guest who is deaf or hard of hearing and who contacts the Access Desk
pre-cruise will be advised of the availability of written materials onboard the
vessel prior to the cruise or on the day of embarkation. The written materials
shall include daily information provided to all guests concerning shore
excursions, safety, shipboard activities, etc.
and other important announcements to guests who are deaf or hard of hearing are
made through one-way pagers provided by NCL to guests who have requested them at
the start of the cruise.
request, NCL will make TTY communication devices available to guests or shall
make other provisions, such as handiphones (a handheld text communication
device), to guests who are deaf or hard of hearing to communicate with the
Access Officer, room service or Guest Services.
Access Officer is responsible for ensuring the maintenance of auxiliary aids at
any time of the day or night and shall ensure that a request for a replacement
of a malfunctioning auxiliary aid is timely handled on the vessel by
will continue to provide visual tactile alert systems to guests who are deaf or
hard of hearing in their stateroom, which will
alert the guest if there is knocking at the door, telephone ringing, alarm
ringing or smoke detection.
in each stateroom of each NCL vessel shall offer closed captioning in all US
ports to the extent that the satellite service provider offers captioning,
except for the Epic which shall provide alternate means of entertainment for up
to six months from the effective date of this Consent Decree, at which point the
software for closed captioning will be operating on those vessels. Guests
shall be able to operate the captioning without assistance by following simple
directions and without special equipment. Televisions in common areas shall
offer captioning to the extent that the satellite service provider offers
Procedures. NCL is already complying
with all applicable laws, regulations and conventions regarding emergency
procedures for guests with disabilities. Nothing in this Decree is intended to
override those requirements in any way. Nothing in this Decree is
intended to affect those provisions except as set forth specifically in
Paragraph 25 below.
Muster Drill. All ship personnel are
trained in the procedures for an emergency muster drill that takes place during
each cruise. NCL has also implemented the following procedures:
has voluntarily implemented a program for pagers to be used by guests who are
deaf or hard of hearing on all vessels, which will be fully operational by
December 2010. The pagers shall be used for all important announcements,
including emergency announcements. At or before the beginning of each cruise,
the guest shall receive, either verbally or in writing depending on the guest's
preference, instructions on the use of the pagers, including instructions on
the use of pagers in the event of an emergency.
to embarkation, the Access Desk shall provide an accurate written transcript of
the drill to all guests who have identified themselves as deaf or hard of
hearing pre-cruise. Deaf or hard of hearing guests may also obtain transcripts
from the Access Officer and/or Guest Services on the day of embarkation. The
transcript shall state, at the top, that the guest may take the transcript
along with him or her during the drill.
Ground Transportation. NCL offers
transportation to all guests between airports, hotels and the vessels through
transportation vendors, and on shore excursions, through transportation and
shore excursion vendors. NCL shall ensure that guests with mobility
disabilities are provided accessible transportation in the United States for
all transportation purchased through NCL. Within six (6) months of the
effective date of the Decree, on all future transportation contracts for
transportation offered in the United States entered into after the Effective
date of this Decree, NCL will insert a provision requiring the vendor to represent
and warrant that all transportation in the United States complies with the ADA
if purchased by guests on an NCL cruise. NCL, however, is not responsible for
transportation not purchased through NCL. The contracts with transportation
vendors shall require the vendors to comply with the following ADA
over-the-road buses for guests with mobility disabilities shall be provided
when over-the-road buses are used for transportation between the airport,
hotel, and ship, and on shore excursions; and
shuttle buses or vans for individuals with mobility disabilities shall be
provided when such vehicles are used for transportation between the airport,
hotel, and ship, and on shore excursions, unless the vendor provides alternative
transportation for individuals with disabilities that is equivalent to the
transportation provided to other individuals, including in terms of wait times.
27. Scope of Decree. For purposes of enforcement of this Decree, the
Court shall have continuing jurisdiction to review any alleged non-compliance
with the terms of this Consent Decree only insofar as it may pertain to
auxiliary aids or services for guests who are deaf or hard of hearing and
transportation of guests with mobility disabilities.
RELIEF FOR CLAIMANTS
to 42 U.S.C. §12188(b)(2), the parties agree to the following monetary relief.
The parties agree that these payments do not constitute and are not based on an
admission or finding of liability, and are not to be construed as an admission
or finding of a violation of the ADA. NCL shall pay $100,000 in total to the
claimants listed in paragraph 12 above, which shall be divided equally among
the nine (9) complainants.
thirty (30) days of the date of the entry of this Consent Decree, NCL shall
send, return receipt requested, the release form attached hereto as Exhibit "A"
to each of the complainants listed in paragraph 12 above. Within thirty (30)
days of receiving each signed release form, NCL shall send, return receipt
requested, a check for the full amount due to each complainant. NCL shall also
provide a copy of each signed release and check disbursed to the Department
within ten (10) days of issuance.
thirty (30) days of the effective date of this Decree, NCL shall pay to the
United States the sum of $40,000 in civil penalties sent by overnight mail to
the Department at the address listed in paragraph 44 below.
Consent Decree constitutes the entire agreement between the parties relating to United States v. NCL (Bahamas) Ltd. at al., Case No. ________ (S.D. Fla. _________) and Department of Justice No.
202-18-187, and no other statement, promise, or agreement, either written or
oral, made by any party or agents of any party, that is not contained in this
written Consent Decree, including its attachments, shall be enforceable.
any portion of this Consent Decree is determined by any court to be
unenforceable, the other terms of this Consent Decree shall nonetheless remain
in full force and effect.
individuals signing this Consent Decree represent that they are authorized to
bind the parties to this Consent Decree.
Decree shall be binding on the United States, NCL (Bahamas) Ltd. and NCL
America, LLC, and their successors and assigns. NCL (Bahamas) Ltd. and NCL
America, LLC. have a duty to so notify all such successors in interest of the
existence and terms of this Decree.
titles and other headings contained in this Decree are included only for ease
of reference and shall have no substantive effect.
by the United States to enforce any provision or deadline of this Decree shall
not be construed as a waiver of its right to enforce any other provisions or
deadlines of this Decree.
Decree shall remain in effect for three (3) years from the effective date of
the Decree. This Court shall retain jurisdiction of this action to enforce the
provisions set forth herein pursuant to paragraph 27 above during the three (3)
years that this Decree remains in effect. At the conclusion of the term of
this Decree, the case shall be dismissed with prejudice.
at any time NCL desires to modify any portion of this Decree or extend any
deadlines for any reason, it will notify the Department in writing setting
forth the facts and circumstances for the modification and the proposed
language of the proposed modification. The Department shall, in good faith,
consider the request and respond to NCL within thirty (30) days of receipt of
the request regarding whether the Department will agree to the modification.
NCL and the Department shall work together in good faith to try to reach an
agreement concerning any proposed modification prior to bringing such matters
to the Court for resolution. In the event that NCL and the Department cannot
come to an agreement, the Court retains jurisdiction to alter or modify the
terms set forth herein of this Decree upon application of NCL.
United States may review compliance with this Consent Decree at any time during
the term of the Decree and may seek to enforce the terms of this Decree if the United
States believes that it or any portion of it has been violated. If the United
States believes that this Decree or any portion of it has been violated, it
will raise its concern(s) with NCL and the parties will attempt to resolve the
concern(s) in good faith. The United States will give NCL sixty (60) days from
the date that it notifies NCL of any alleged breach of this Decree to cure that
breach prior to instituting any action this Court. The United States and NCL
shall endeavor in good faith to resolve informally any differences regarding
interpretation of and compliance with this Consent Decree prior to
bringing such matters to the Court for resolution.
40. Any time limits for
performance imposed by this Decree may be extended by the mutual written
agreement of the United States and NCL.
consideration of, and consistent with, all terms of this Decree, the United
States agrees to refrain from undertaking any further investigation into or
pursuing further legal proceedings regarding all matters contained within this
Decree, except as provided in paragraph 39 above.
months after the effective date of this Decree, and every six months thereafter
during the term of the Decree, NCL will provide the DOJ with documentation of
the requests for accommodation made during the term of this Decree and NCL's
response(s) to those requests, including the outcome of the request or
43. Each of the Parties to this
litigation will bear its own costs and attorney's fees associated with this
litigation. The Clerk is directed to close this case subject to reopening for
notices, demands, or other communications to be provided under this Decree
shall be in writing and delivered by fax or overnight mail to the following
persons and addresses (or such other persons and addresses as either party
shall designate in writing from time to time):
to stipulation, and for good cause shown, IT IS SO ORDERED.