Southern District of Florida Refuses to Dismiss Negligence Case Filed Against Cruise Ship After Child Was Apparently Injured Onboard

In Gittel v. Carnival Corp., the parents of a child who allegedly suffered an injury while traveling aboard a cruise ship filed a negligence action against the company that operated the vessel in the Southern District of Florida.  In their complaint, the plaintiffs asserted that the child was hurt when she collided with a pointed edge that protruded into a ship passageway.  In response to the plaintiffs’ lawsuit, the cruise ship company filed a motion to dismiss the case under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2).  In order to survive such a motion, a complaint is required to contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”

The federal court first examined the plaintiffs’ claim that the cruise ship operator committed negligence.  The court stated it was required to rely on general negligence principles when examining a maritime tort case such as the one before it.  In order to demonstrate negligence, a plaintiff must allege the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty, the defendant breached that duty, and the plaintiff suffered harm as a direct result of that breach.  After examining the language included in the plaintiffs’ complaint, the Southern District of Florida refused to dismiss the case with regard to the general negligence allegations.

Next, the court turned to the plaintiffs’ negligent hiring and retention claim.  Since the plaintiffs failed to provide any facts to support their assertions, the federal court dismissed this cause of action.  Likewise, the court dismissed their joint venture cause of action because the plaintiffs did not demonstrate that the ship operator was engaged in a “joint proprietary interest and joint control” with the vessel’s medical personnel.  Instead, the court said the plaintiffs merely pleaded a “division of responsibilities.”

After that, the Southern District of Florida declined to dismiss the plaintiffs’ claim that the cruise ship operator was vicariously liable for the conduct of the ship’s medical staff due to apparent agency.  According to the court, the plaintiffs successfully articulated a claim for apparent agency in their complaint because they stated the cruise ship owner held out the doctors and other health care providers onboard as employees by requiring them to wear crewmember uniforms, using company forms, and several other factors.

Finally, the federal court refused to dismiss the claims made by the allegedly injured child’s parents stating they suffered pecuniary losses as a result of the cruise ship operator’s negligence.  The court stated the claims at issue would not be dismissed because the parents specifically listed several ways in which they may have suffered financial loss due to the events alleged in the lawsuit.

If you or someone you love was injured in an accident while onboard a cruise ship, you need an experienced Florida personal injury lawyer on your side to advocate on your behalf.   To discuss your right to receive damages with a hardworking South Florida personal injury attorney, you should give the caring lawyers at Friedman, Rodman & Frank, P.A. a call today at (305) 448-8585 or contact us through our website.

Additional Resources:

Gittel v. Carnival Corp., Dist. Court, SD Florida 2015

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