Tourism & Cruises

Two former cruise CEOs duked it out in court. One came out the clear winner

In a weeklong jury trial, former Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings CEO Colin Veitch, above, argued that his successor, Kevin Sheehan, withheld payments from him and made defamatory statements about him in the media. A Miami-Dade jury ruled against Veitch on all counts Monday.
In a weeklong jury trial, former Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings CEO Colin Veitch, above, argued that his successor, Kevin Sheehan, withheld payments from him and made defamatory statements about him in the media. A Miami-Dade jury ruled against Veitch on all counts Monday. Miami Herald file

For the past week, it has been a battle of the former Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings CEOs.

In a weeklong jury trial, former cruise chief Colin Veitch argued that his successor, Kevin Sheehan, withheld payments from Veitch and made allegedly defamatory statements about him in the media. (Sheehan also has departed the line.) Veitch sought $95 million in damages.

But on Monday, a Miami-Dade jury ruled against Veitch on all counts, finding that Sheehan and Norwegian were not liable either for defamation or an accompanying claim of breach of contract.

The suit stems from a glowing article published in trade publication Travel Weekly about Veitch in December 2014, after Sheehan had taken over leadership of the cruise company. (Veitch led Norwegian from 2000 to 2008 and was followed by Sheehan, who was CEO until 2015.)

The article called Veitch a “visionary” and said “a case can be made that Veitch was the most influential and creative cruise CEO of the past decade.”

Sheehan responded with a scathing email, calling the article on Veitch “insulting to our entire organization.” Travel Weekly ultimately removed the article on Veitch from its website.

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In the suit, Veitch claimed Sheehan’s email was libel and an attempt to ruin Veitch’s reputation.

The jury disagreed. It disagreed, too, with Veitch’s claims that Sheehan and Norwegian converted company profit units to intentionally shortchange him and other ex-employees of millions of dollars.

The original complaint also included allegations that Sheehan had improper relationships with employees, which allegedly led to a monthlong investigation from December 2014 to January 2015 by Norwegian and prompted Sheehan’s departure from the company. Those allegations were struck from the record before the trial.

In closing arguments, Sheehan’s attorney, Sandy Bohrer, addressed the allegations.

“It’s not true. He resigned for personal reasons, he had already hired his successor, he was already on his way out,” Bohrer said, according to a video feed of the proceedings provided by Courtroom View Network.

This story has been updated to reflect details about the distribution of Sheehan’s email.

Chabeli Herrera: 305-376-3730, @ChabeliH

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