Articles Posted in Cruise Ship Accidents

The Southern District of Florida has dismissed a breach of contract and loss of consortium claim that was filed against a cruise ship company. In Friedhofer v. NCL Ltd., two women apparently suffered damage to their hair while traveling aboard a cruise ship. As a result, the women and their spouses filed a lawsuit against the owner of the cruise ship in the Southern District of Florida. According to their complaint, the cruise ship owner breached its contract and acted negligently when the water on board the ship caused damage to the passengers’ hair. In addition, the plaintiffs sought loss of consortium benefits.

In response to the lawsuit, the cruise line filed a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ breach of contract and loss of consortium claims for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Typically, such a motion is appropriate when a plaintiff does not plead sufficient facts to demonstrate he or she is entitled to legal relief. When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court must accept all of the facts included in the pleading as true and construe any inferences in favor of the non-moving party.

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In Ash v. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., 28 cruise ship passengers were reportedly injured in a bus crash in St. Maarten. Prior to the accident, each individual purchased tickets for a related excursion from a St. Maarten tour provider that contracted with the cruise ship company. The tour provider then contracted with the bus company to offer transportation between the ship and the onshore excursion for the passengers.

Following the bus accident, the injured passengers filed a lawsuit against the cruise ship owner, tour operator, and bus company in the Southern District of Florida’s admiralty court. In their complaint, the passengers accused the defendants of committing negligence and asserted several other related claims. The Florida court dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims against the foreign bus company for lack of personal jurisdiction, and the passengers filed an amended complaint. After that, the remaining defendants filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit with the federal court. According to the two companies, the cruise ship passengers failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.

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The Southern District of Florida has refused to dismiss a slip-and-fall case that was filed against a cruise ship company. In Young v. Carnival Corp., a woman filed a negligence lawsuit against the cruise line she traveled with in a Florida federal court. According to her complaint, the woman was injured when she slipped and fell on an unspecified substance while aboard a cruise ship. She also claimed that the cruise line breached its duty to protect her from being injured, and the company’s breach proximately caused her actual harm. In response to the woman’s lawsuit, the cruise company filed a motion to dismiss the woman’s case.

According to the cruise ship operator, the woman failed to plead the elements necessary to establish the company was negligent. In a federal lawsuit, a party’s case may be dismissed for failure to state a claim on which relief may be granted under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. In considering such a motion, a court is normally required to accept all of the facts alleged in the pleadings as true. After considering the company’s motion, the federal court said the woman successfully pleaded her negligence case.

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The Southern District of Florida has refused to grant summary judgment in a negligence lawsuit that was filed against a cruise ship company. In Gandhi v. Carnival Corp., a six-year-old girl was allegedly hurt by an elevator while traveling aboard a cruise ship. The child’s arm was apparently trapped in the gap between the elevator doors as they tried to close. The doors were purportedly bent and left bloody after other passengers wedged the door open in order to release the girl’s arm. Although the child was initially treated by physicians on the ship, her parents later sought the advice of another doctor.

Not long after returning home from the family’s cruise, the girl’s parents filed a lawsuit in the Southern District of Florida seeking damages related to the child’s harm from the cruise line. As part of the case, the child’s parents, cruise ship workers, experts for both sides, and others offered deposition testimony to the federal court. Eventually, the cruise ship filed a motion for summary judgment in the case. A motion for summary judgment may be granted only if no material issue of fact is in dispute, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. When considering such a motion, a court is required to view all facts and evidence offered in the light that is most favorable to the non-moving party.

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In Shore v. Magical Cruise Co., Ltd., a couple set sail on a themed cruise ship. While aboard the vessel, the wife apparently suffered a staphylococcal infection following a treatment in the ship’s spa. In addition, the husband allegedly became ill as well. After the couple returned from their cruise, they filed a negligence, strict liability, and loss of consortium lawsuit in the Middle District of Florida against the owner of the cruise ship and the operator of the spa where the wife was purportedly injured.

In response to the couple’s lawsuit, the defendants argued that the couple failed to plead sufficient facts to support a negligence lawsuit. Specifically, the defendants claimed the couple failed to allege they had a duty to warn the woman or that they breached their duty. Normally, in order to demonstrate negligence, a plaintiff must assert the at-fault party owed the plaintiff a duty, the at-fault party breached that duty, the plaintiff was injured as a result of that breach, and the plaintiff suffered damages. The federal court disagreed with the defendants and stated the allegations included in the couple’s complaint were sufficient to state a negligence claim.

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The Southern District of Florida has dismissed a slip-and-fall case against a cruise ship operator. In Torres v. Carnival Corp., a passenger on a cruise ship filed a negligence and failure to warn lawsuit against the company that owns the vessel on which she traveled, seeking damages for the injuries she allegedly sustained in a slip-and-fall accident on an exterior deck. According to the woman, she tripped over a raised threshold that was obscured by a rug while walking through an opening during disembarkation.

In response to the woman’s lawsuit, the cruise ship company filed a motion for summary judgment. When a party to a lawsuit files such a motion, the party is asking the court to find that no genuine issue of material fact exists and that the party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. When considering a motion for summary judgment, a court must view all of the evidence offered by each party in the light that is most favorable to the non-moving party. When a summary judgment motion is granted, a court is essentially stating a jury trial is not required based on the facts of the dispute.

To prove negligence, an injured person is required to demonstrate that an at-fault party owed him or her a duty, violated that duty, and directly caused his or her harm because of that violation. According to the Southern District of Florida, the woman failed to carry her burden of proving negligence because she did not demonstrate the carpet lying on the threshold was unreasonably dangerous. In fact, testimony offered to the court suggested exactly the opposite was true. In addition, the court stated that even if a dangerous condition existed, the cruise ship did not fail to warn the woman because Florida does not require any warning for an obvious hazard like a rug.

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General maritime law provides that a seaman can recover compensation for food, lodging and medical services that arise when injured or taken ill while working on a ship. These forms of compensation must continue through recuperation until the seaman achieves maximum medical recovery. “Maintenance and cure” under general maritime law is separate from remedies under the Jones Act.

If you are a seaman who is hurt while employed on a cruise ship because of an employer or coworker’s negligence, the Jones Act allows you to seek damages (such as lost wages or pain and suffering), separate from maintenance and cure. Because of its proximity to the water, Florida sees many cases related to seaman injuries and illnesses. These cases may raise issues under both general maritime law and the Jones Act.

In a 2012 case a professional musician appealed after the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of a Disney Cruise Lines in his complaint for unseaworthiness, negligence, Jones Act, maintenance and cure. The musician had suffered an injury while on board a Disney cruise ship. He received medical care from a specialist in the Caribbean and then went on medical disembark. An orthopedic surgeon treated him and performed two surgeries on his shoulder, rotator cuff and elbow.

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Florida’s large tourism industry gives rise to interesting legal questions regarding personal jurisdiction over cruise line defendants who have been negligent. Personal jurisdiction refers to whether the court has power over the parties in a particular lawsuit. If a court does not have personal jurisdiction, its rulings and orders can’t be enforced upon that person or entity.

Can a defendant be held responsible in Florida courts if he or she simply works on a boat that departs from Florida? The answer to this question can impact ship doctors, as well as other ship personnel. A recent case illustrates the answer.

In the case, a couple took a seven-night cruise on a Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. She went to the ship’s doctor as the boat neared Haiti for treatment of serious abdominal pain. The ship’s nurse and doctor saw her. She was treated for gastritis, but she worsened. She got off the ship in Mexico and went to the hospital where she got an abdominal surgery. She was treated for sepsis and multiple organ failure. She also experienced a cerebral hemorrhage.

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Under Florida common law, a lawsuit that does not have much connection to Florida may be subject to “forum non conveniens,” which is Latin for “inconvenient forum.” It comes up only after a plaintiff is able to effect service of process of a lawsuit on a defendant who is present in Florida or has its principal place of business there or because the defendant has committed a tort in Florida.

Some plaintiffs “shop” for the best jurisdiction in which to sue the defendant–usually they pick the jurisdiction with laws that favor their side of the case. This problem can be fixed through the application of the forum non conveniens.

Forum non conveniens is a doctrine that addresses the problem of a local court having jurisdiction over a suit when the case could be fairly and more conveniently litigated in another jurisdiction. Since Florida tends to have better laws for plaintiffs than some overseas jurisdictions, the plaintiff practice of forum-shopping is particularly notable here.

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Florida is a popular destination for tourists who wish to go on a cruise. The last thing anyone wants to worry about while on vacation is getting into an accident while on the boat. However, accidents do happen on cruise ships.

Usually cruise ship attorneys are very experienced at defending personal injury actions. They know how to poke holes in a plaintiff’s case, maximize technical or procedural flaws in a plaintiff’s case and minimize their exposure in the lawsuit. Therefore, if you are hurt on a cruise ship because of a condition on the cruise ship that is not your fault it is important to retain an experienced personal injury attorney to prosecute this type of case. An attorney experienced at representing plaintiffs can try to make sure you receive any compensation to which you may be entitled.

Recently, an appellate court considered an argument that the Carnival Cruise Line’s defense attorney made improper comments at a personal injury trial. The case arose when a woman took a Carnival cruise in order to go to her nephew’s wedding. She slipped and fell on something oily on the ship’s floor by the buffet while the ship was docked in Tampa. She was taken to Tampa General Hospital and treated for contusions to her right hip, right knee and back strain.

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