The tragic wreck that killed 32 passengers and crew off the coast of Giglio, Italy, has led the cruise industry to create ten new safety policies. The main change is for passengers to undergo “muster drills”, or passenger emergency drills, before the boat leaves the dock, as opposed to within 24 hours of departure.
In 2011 there were 922,491 total vessels registered in Florida. 742 boat accidents were reported to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. If you have been injured in a boating accident, whether it was a cruise ship or privately owned boat, contact the Florida maritime lawyers at Friedman, Rodman & Frank, P.A. They have taken on several Florida-based cruise ship companies for injuries that have happened on and off board, and are here to help you, even if you live elsewhere.
The amount of chaos and confusion that resulted from the Costa Corcordia captain’s negligence is overwhelming. Passengers and affected businesses have filed suit against Costa Crociere’s parent company, Carnival Corp., which is based in Miami, Florida. Some have run into logistical problems, as many have already been turned away saying that the only forum available to file suit is in Italy. Carnival Corp., in turn, has alleged in other related civil suit documents that the passengers’ injuries are partially or wholly to blame due to their own negligence.
Carnival Corp., has had a large part in the history of forum clauses – clauses often printed on the back of tickets that says the purchaser agrees to settle a dispute in a forum that the ticket issuer has listed. In Carnival Cruise Lines, Inc. v. Shute, 499 U.S. 585 (1990), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of forum clauses that are not obtained by fraud or overreaching. In the underlying case, a couple from Washington state bought tickets to a cruise from Carnival Corp., based in Florida, that started in California and ended in Mexico. The wife sustained injuries when she slipped and fell on a deck mat while the boat was at sea off the coast of Mexico. The couple filed suit in her home state, and Carnival claimed that, per the forum clause, they had to file suit in Florida. The couple countered that they were physically and financially incapable of filing suit in Florida.
The lower, appellate court sided with the couple, agreeing that the couple would be denied their day in court, given their limitations, and that the forum clause was not “freely bargained for”. The Supreme Court disagreed, saying that it was a standard commercial clause, that Carnival Cruise Lines has the right to limit the forum for suit, and that this particular clause did not appear to discourage cruise passengers from pursuing legitimate claims. They did note, however, that all forum clauses are subject to scrutiny and should be fundamentally fair.
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