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Alleged rape victim, personal injury lawyer among witnesses for Rockefeller's cruise safety hearing

Alleged rape victim, personal injury lawyer among witnesses for Rockefeller's cruise safety hearing
A woman who claims she was raped on a cruise, a personal injury attorney and a passenger who was aboard Carnival Triumph when the ship lost power after a fire are among the witnesses who will address the Senate Commerce Committee's hearing on cruise ship safety.

Laurie Dishman alleged she was raped on board a Royal Caribbean cruise to Mexico in 2006. The FBI declined to prosecute.

Philip M. Gerson is a Miami attorney who specializes in personal injury cases and has experience in cruise ship accidents and medical malpractice.

Kimberly A. Ware was a passenger on board Carnival Triumph during the fire that disabled the ship in February 2013. As the vessel was towed to Mobile, CNN aired a phone conversation between Ware and her son when she said, 'The crew has been wonderful in a very bad situation.'

The fourth witness for Wednesday's hearing is Amanda Butler. who believes her mother died because of poor medical treatment on a ship.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller called the hearing to address his Cruise Passenger Protection Act. S. 1340 would institute a variety of consumer protections for cruise passengers.

Dishman, an advocate for victims of crimes at sea, testified at a 2007 hearing before the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation after her Rep. Doris Matsui, a Democrat from California, took up the cause. Matsui was a proponent of the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act and is the sponsor of the House of Representatives' companion bill to S. 1340.

S. 1340 amends federal shipping law to direct the Secretary of Transportation to develop standards for shipowners to provide passengers with a summary of key terms of passage contracts upfront and before they are binding.

Further provisions call for the Secretary of Transportation to establish an advisory committee on passenger vessel consumer protection, a passenger complaint hotline and a website with a statistical compilation of reported incidents of missing persons, crimes and other information.

The major cruise operators have been voluntarily reporting crime data on their websites in the past year.

The cruise ship safety hearing is scheduled for 2:45 p.m. Wednesday and will be webcast live on the Senate Commerce Committee website.