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Court Hears Case Stemming from Medical Malpractice Occurring on a Florida Cruise Ship

A Florida appeals court recently addressed several issues in an appeal stemming from an injury victim’s medical malpractice lawsuit against a cruise liner. The plaintiff, a Trinidad and Tobago citizen, departed from a Miami port for a five-day cruise. During the trip, the plaintiff became sick and visited the ship’s infirmary. The physicians determined the plaintiff was suffering from a heart attack and admitted him to the ship’s intensive care unit. They decided to refrain from administering certain medications, citing risk concerns.

Instead, they monitored him, and he was transferred to a hospital after porting in Miami. Subsequently, the plaintiff got a pacemaker. He filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the cruise liner, alleging its medical staff failed to properly diagnose him, treat his illness, and evacuate him from the cruise ship. A jury awarded him $2,000,000 in damages, and the court reduced the damages by $300,000. Both parties appealed several issues, including the defendant’s contention that they were entitled to a new trial.

The defendant argued that they were entitled to a new trial claiming that the lower court erred in their jury instruction. The law provides that cruise lines must treat their patrons with “ordinary reasonable care under the circumstances.” In the context of maritime medical negligence, the law explains that cruise lines medical professionals will not always be held to the same standards as those onshore. In this case, the court instructed jurors that reasonable care is defined by “all relevant surrounding circumstances,” and medical negligence occurs when a physician does something “that a reasonably careful” doctor would not do “under like circumstances” or failing to do something a careful physician would do “under like circumstances.”

The defendant argues that the jury instruction should have included that reasonable care is reviewed in light of a similar “admiralty case involving medical malpractice” and “in the same maritime environment.” Under the law, courts maintain broad discretion to develop jury instructions, so long as those instructions are correct statements of the law. Here, the appeals court found that the trial court’s jury instruction was an accurate statement of the law. Further, it is the parties’ responsibility to convince the jury about whether the circumstances meet the relevant standard of care. Ultimately, the court found that the jury instruction was appropriate.

Have You Suffered Injuries on a Florida Cruise Ship?

If you or someone you love has suffered injuries or died on a cruise ship, contact the experienced attorneys at Friedman Rodman Frank & Estrada. The Florida personal injury attorneys at our office possess the unique skills, resources, and tools necessary to successfully represent victims in their claims for damages. We handle injury cases stemming from Florida cruise ship accidents, car accidents, defective products, premises liability, and medical malpractice. These cases require a comprehensive understanding of complicated tort theories. Through our representation, our clients have recovered significant amounts of compensation. Contact our office at 877-448-8585 to schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney at our office. Calling is free, and you will not pay for any of our services unless we can help you recover for your injuries.

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