When Jeffrey Maltzman graduated from law school, he was unsure how to proceed. He asked one of his professors at Stanford Law School what he should specialize in, and that wise professor advised him to identify a business that he loved and then to try to do its legal work.
Finding something he loved was no problem. His love affair with cruise ships was firmly established, having spent five summers on them, working while sailing the Caribbean and the Atlantic and navigating the Suez Canal. Even before passing the California bar, Maltzman wrote a how-to book on finding great summer jobs. Harper-Collins first published Jobs in Paradise: The definitive guide to exotic jobs everywhere, in 1990 with a second edition in 1993. To date, the book has sold 30,000 copies.
Maltzman wrote much of the book from personal experience. He was a cruise staffer handling the entertainment for singles 18 to 35. “It was a tough job,” he jokes, “but somebody had to do it.”
After passing the bar (he studied for the bar and finished his book at the same time), Maltzman joined a San Diego law firm that specialized in civil litigation. It was during that time that his Stanford professor gave him the advice that guided him into the harbor of admiralty law. With that specialty, in 1985 Maltzman signed on with another San Diego firm that opened a Miami office that 10 years later became known as Kaye, Rose & Maltzman. In June 2005, Maltzman and Jeffrey Foreman formed their own firm — still specializing in admiralty law as well as insurance defense and commercial litigation.
Maltzman is ecstatic about his work. At a Stanford law school reunion, his former classmates all agreed that Maltzman had attained the status of the happiest lawyer in their class. “What makes my job interesting is that every day is different,” he says. “One day I’m defending against the little old lady who fell on the shuffleboard court; the next day I’m defending in a class action claiming you don’t have enough low-fat cream cheese on board; the next day litigating against a claim you sailed too close to a hurricane, and then defending the line in another case because you changed the itinerary to avoid a hurricane.”
Maltzman and his partners work for most of the major cruise lines in the world. “We get hired for the high-profile cases involving sexual assault, medical malpractice or crime,” he says. One of those high-profile cases involved the missing person Amy Bradley. Bradley was a college student sailing on a Royal Caribbean Line (RCL) ship to Aruba in 1998. When she was reported missing, her mother sued RCL, claiming her daughter was kidnapped. She has never been found.
The suit was dismissed three years ago when it was adjudged that her parents had committed fraud on the court by hiding witnesses who claimed they had seen Amy on Aruba after the ship had docked.
A second case — Maltzman dubs it the Banana Daiquiri case — involved a Carnival Cruise Line (CCL) passenger named Neal Bass. Bass loves banana daiquiris. But after serving him a number of them, the staff in the casino, where he was enjoying his favorite drink, decided he’d had enough. They told Bass they had run out of bananas. Bass then tried to organize a “mutiny” on the ship, demanding they get more bananas.
Security was called to calm him down. Later Bass sued CCL, claiming his back was injured after security personnel beat him up. At the trial, Maltzman and Foreman proved that Bass had fallen from the roof of his house while putting up Christmas decorations before the cruise, so the back problem was a pre-existing condition.
The South Florida Business Journal annually recognizes the top 100 cases tried each year. For 2004, the Banana Daiquiri case was one of only a few defense cases selected in the Journal’s top 100. Maltzman gets kudos from his clients and associates. Joann Romeiser, manager of guest relations and risk management, Oceania Cruses, Miami, says, “Jeffrey knows the cruise business and knows what a ship encounters when at sea,” Romeiser says. “He wants to do what is right and will always take the high road.”
His partner, Jeff Foreman, says he first met Maltzman when he was trying a case opposite him. “He is one of the brightest lawyers I’ve ever encountered,” Foreman says, adding that Maltzman is a nice guy, to boot. “He is highly regarded by his adversaries.”
Bob Kirk at CCL says, “Jeffrey is a great storyteller so when he is presenting a case, the court or the jury listens to everything he is saying.” Even now, Maltzman ends up on a cruise ship every month or so for work and for vacations, with his wife, Ana, and his two daughters, Alexis, 4, and Jessica, 2.
Maltzman says the cruise industry is well run, but there was one thing they never figured out. “When I was working on a ship, they would never have had to pay me,” he says. “I would have done that job for free, it was so much fun.”
Maltzman is still having the time of his life.