Recently, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit issued an opinion in an appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida involving a negligence claim by a plaintiff against a cruise ship operator following an injury on the ship. According to the record, the plaintiff states that the district court erred in finding that his amended complaint failed to allege sufficient facts in support of his negligence claim that the cruise ship operator was on notice for the alleged hazard that result in his injury. In response, the cruise ship operator filed a motion to dismiss, stating that the plaintiff failed to raise a plausible negligence claim due to inadequate evidence. The district court granted the motion to dismiss, holding that the plaintiff failed to satisfy the pleading standard in question. The appellate court upheld the district court decision, denying the plaintiff’s claims.
Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was a passenger on one of the defendant’s cruise ships, descending from Deck 5 to Deck 4 when he slipped on a wet or slippery transient foreign substance. The plaintiff claims that due to the fall, he suffered serious injuries, including a complete rupture of the right knee patella tendon. The injuries required surgical repair and physical therapy. The plaintiff alleges that the staircase in question is one of the most highly trafficked regions of the cruise ship and that it is flanked on both sides by shops staffed by dozens of crew members. Additionally, the plaintiff claims that several hundred guests and crew members traverse the staircase on a daily basis, many carrying drinks, resulting in frequent spills. As a result, the plaintiff claims that the cruise ship operating company had constructive notice of the dangerous conditions, and knew or should have known about the spills.
In an amended complaint, the plaintiff makes two claims against the defendant, (1) vicarious liability for negligent maintenance; and (2) vicarious liability for negligent failure to warn of a hazard. Regarding the negligent maintenance claim, the plaintiff alleges that there was actual or constructive knowledge of the hazardous conditions and that crew members failed to maintain the stairs in a reasonably safe condition. On the second claim, the plaintiff asserts that the cruise ship operator had actual or constructive knowledge of the conditions and that crew members failed to warn him of the danger before he fell and became injured.