International Law

Fisherman who survived 13 months adrift at sea now faces legal battle over attorney rights

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An El Salvador man who says he spent more than a year adrift at sea on a Mexican fishing boat before washing up on the Marshall Islands, over 6,000 miles away, is now the subject of a legal battle over the rights to tell his story.

Attorney Benedicto Perlera says he has known fisherman Jose Salvador Alvarenga since childhood and is simply seeking to enforce an agreement that he would represent Alvarenga in book and movie negotiations, reports the Daily Star.

“He signed a contract with me, I made it clear to him he was signing a contract and I’m demanding compensation as I have a legal right to do,” Perlera told the newspaper. The contract at issue has a hefty penalty clause.

However, Alvarenga, 38, who is now represented by a U.S. law firm, denies that he signed a contract and says he was unaware of the penalty clause, the article reports.

A court hearing is scheduled Friday in El Salvador at which the issue is expected to be argued.

Attorney Ricardo Cucalon, who is affiliated with Masonek Law, now represents Alvarenga.

Related coverage:

Daily Mail: “Macabre games of ‘seagull soccer’ with a dead frogfish to save his sanity and the moment the Devil dared him to slit his own throat: Pacific castaway reveals his hellish fight”

The Guardian: “José Salvador Alvarenga’s 13 months at sea backed by fishermen and officials”

New York Daily News: “Castaway Jose Salvador Alvarenga returns to native El Salvador”

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