Southern District of Florida Orders Trial in Negligence Case Against Cruise Ship

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.

Before reviewing the cruise line’s motion for summary judgment, the federal court stated that general maritime law applied to the case. The Florida court added that both common and state law supplemented maritime law where it was silent. The court then addressed the elements required to prove negligence in a maritime law case. As with general negligence, the elements include duty, breach, causation, and damages. Next, the Southern District of Florida stated a ship owner is required to exercise reasonable care towards passengers and other individuals who are not crew members.

In the case at hand, the child’s parents alleged the cruise ship company failed to exercise its duty to warn the family about the dangers of the elevator. The company countered that a warning was not required because any dangers associated with the elevator doors were open and obvious. The court held that the testimony offered showed that a genuine issue of material fact existed regarding whether the elevator door hazards were obvious. In addition, the evidence called into question whether the cruise ship operator had constructive notice of the allegedly dangerous condition on the elevator.

According to the court, the ship’s owner had a duty to keep the vessel safe even if the cruise company was not required to warn the family regarding any potential elevator hazards. Additionally, expert testimony offered to the federal court suggested the elevator doors caused the girl’s injuries because they were not properly maintained. Although the testimony offered to the court conflicted on this issue, the federal court found that a genuine issue of material fact required a trial. Since summary judgment was not proper, the Southern District of Florida denied the cruise ship company’s motion for summary judgment.

If you or someone you love was injured while traveling on a cruise ship, you may be eligible to collect damages for your harm. The skilled Miami personal injury lawyers at Friedman, Rodman & Frank, P.A. may be able to assist you. To discuss your personal injury case with an experienced cruise ship injury lawyer today, please contact Friedman, Rodman & Frank, P.A. through our website or give us a call today at (305) 448-8585.

Additional Resources:

Gandhi v. Carnival Corp., Dist. Court, SD Florida 2014

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