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Cruise ship passengers often ignore the fact that their tickets are, in fact, contractual agreements that contain specific provisions governing a wide variety of issues. A passenger’s failure to pay attention to these requirements may result in loss of rights or benefits under the ticket agreement. The case below illustrates this important issue, where a court dismisses a passenger’s case because she failed to follow the dispute resolution provisions of her ticket agreement.

In Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. v. Clarke, a cruise ship passenger aboard a Royal Caribbean Cruises ship was injured in a cruise ship accident. That passenger procured the services of a local attorney who filed a lawsuit several days before the one-year limitations period provided in the cruise ticket expired. However, the attorney filed the case in the Miami-Dade state courthouse instead of a federal court as required by the ticket’s terms. Accordingly, Royal Caribbean asked the state court to dismiss the case because the plaintiff filed suit in the wrong forum as provided for in the ticket, but the court denied the motion. Royal Caribbean appealed the denial. Continue reading →

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Cruise ship negligence lawsuits, as with any action for negligence, requires that plaintiffs show that the cruise line owed them a duty of reasonable care as passengers and that it engaged in conduct that breached such duty to its passengers. Subsequently, plaintiffs have to prove that the cruise line’s breach of its duty caused the plaintiff’s injuries and, as a result, the plaintiff incurred damages. As the case below will illustrate, most cases will hang on the question of causation, and plaintiffs have to provide evidence to prove that the negligent action caused their injuries or harm.

In Sorrels v. NCL Ltd., a woman suffered injuries when she slipped and fell on the deck of a cruise ship that was wet from the rain. The woman filed suit against the cruise line in a federal district court in Florida for negligence under maritime law, which provides that the owner of a vessel operating on waterways owes its passengers a duty to exercise reasonable care. During the trial, the plaintiff offered expert testimony regarding the degree of slip resistance of the surface of the cruise ship’s deck. The expert testimony indicated that the cruise line knew or should have known that the surface did not meet the minimum standards for passenger walkways and that it posed an unreasonable risk to passengers when wet. In response, the defendant requested for the court to strike the expert testimony the plaintiff provided from the record and grant summary judgment in the cruise line’s favor. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion, removed the expert testimony from the record, and granted summary judgment for the defendant. The plaintiff filed an appeal with a federal appeals court. Continue reading →

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Waivers are an important issue in negligence law. These documents purport to limit the liability of an entity and are often the subject of extensive litigation in cruise ship negligence cases. The same is true for negligence actions against cruise ship companies. Unfortunately, many passengers who board cruise ships fail to pay proper attention to the extensive paperwork that they completed before boarding, which undoubtedly included several waivers. Nevertheless, the case below will illustrate that waivers are not always enforceable. Cruise ship passengers should ensure that they understand the conditions that they agree to when they board a vessel.

In In re the complaint of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., a woman, and her partner were passengers on board a three-day cruise with Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. They boarded the company’s “Monarch of the Seas” ship that left Florida’s Port Canaveral. Both of them participated in a port excursion while the ship was docked at Coco Cay, a Bahamian island that was owned by Royal Caribbean. The excursion involved a jet ski tour where the participants followed a tour guide who led the way and another excursion employee who ensured that the participants’ jet skis were adequately spaced from each other. During the tour, the couple slowed down when the participants ahead of them slowed down as well, during which the woman was struck in the rear by another participant and suffered injuries.

Royal Caribbean Cruises filed an action in a federal district court in Miami asking for the court to release the company from any liability. The company contended that the injured woman signed a waiver of liability before embarking on the excursion in question. Therefore, the company is not liable for her injuries. The waiver indicated that the woman agreed to release Royal Caribbean Cruises and its employees from legal actions stemming from any injury or accidents that were connected, in any way, with her participation, operation, rental, or use of jet skis on the excursion. Continue reading →

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Cruise ship negligence cases, as with all negligence claims, center around the issue of whether the cruise ship and its employees failed to fulfill a duty of care owed to a passenger under the circumstances. As the case below illustrates, the extent of the duty of care owed depends on the facts of each case.

In Carroll v. Carnival Corp., a person was a first-time passenger who suffered two separate cruise ship injuries. The passenger first slipped and fell in one of the cruise ship’s elevators and broke her elbow. Two days later, the passenger slipped and fell again in one of the cabin bathrooms and broke her femur. After returning to port, the passenger filed a negligence suit in a federal district court in Miami against the cruise ship company alleging two counts negligence. Additionally, the passenger claimed that the cruise ship company’s duty of care to her increased after the initial accident.

During the trial, the plaintiff indicated that she was not under any form of special restrictions after the initial accident. According to her testimony, she received treatment at a port of call by a local doctor, who placed her arm in a sling. The doctor gave her no special instructions to refrain from certain activities, walk in a particular manner, or wear specific clothing. The plaintiff did not ask the ship staff for assistance in moving about the cruise ship, and later, she slipped while in the bathroom after some difficulties with her clothing. Continue reading →

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Cruise ship companies often provide passengers with opportunities for excursions at ports-of-call during a multi-day cruise. Passengers who suffer injuries while aboard a cruise ship might hold cruise ship companies liable for injuries sustained on board the ship if the company and its employees were negligent. As the case below illustrates, when an accident occurs during one of the ship’s excursions while docked, the cruise ship company may also be held liable if it was negligent in retaining an unfit third-party excursion provider.

In Heyden v. Celebrity Cruises, a passenger on board a cruise ship suffered injuries during a shore excursion in one of the cruise’s ports-of-call. The passenger was riding a Segway on a pedestrian boardwalk when it caught a bench that was nailed to the ground. The passenger fell from the Segway, which subsequently fell on top of him. The Segway tour was operated by a third-party provider chosen by the cruise ship company. The injured passenger filed suit against the cruise line, alleging that it was negligent in vetting and selecting the third-party excursion provider.

The cruise line asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit, stating that the law shields it from liability for the acts of independent contractors such as the excursion provider in the case. However, the district court decided against dismissing the case and ruled that although it could not hold the cruise line liable for the negligent actions of independent contractors, it may hold the cruise line responsible for retaining the services of such contractors negligently. To move forward with the lawsuit, the plaintiff must sufficiently allege that the excursion operator was not competent to provide excursions, the cruise line knew or should have known that the operator was not fit and that the operator’s incompetence caused the plaintiff’s injuries. Continue reading →

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Jurisdiction is a very complex issue in any case in litigation. Cruise ship litigation compounds the complexity of the case because such litigation often involves multiple companies that are registered in different states or, as the case below illustrates, different countries. Filing a suit in the wrong jurisdiction may result in dismissal of a case. Plaintiffs must take care to ensure that lawsuits are filed in a court that can exercise jurisdiction over a defendant.

In Carmouche v. Carnival Corporation, the plaintiff was a passenger that suffered injuries on a Carnival cruise ship during a shore excursion in Belize. Another company that provided excursions for passengers on board Carnival cruise ships in Belize, Tamborlee Management, operated the excursion. The plaintiff filed suit for negligence against Carnival and Tamborlee in a federal district court in Florida. However, Tamborlee asked the court to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction, which the court granted. The plaintiff appealed.

Tamborlee is a Panamanian corporation that never provided excursions for tourists in Florida. The company has never advertised its services to potential Florida customers and has never owned a license to operate in Florida. Tamborlee had executed insurance policies with a few Florida insurance companies, had an active bank account in Miami, and was a member of a Florida cruise ship association. Tamborlee had a contract with Carnival to provide shore excursions in which Tamborlee consented to jurisdiction in Florida district court about suits related to the shore excursions it operated.  Continue reading →

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We all take a risk by deciding to take a cruise, just as we take a risk by driving and by traveling on an airplane.  There are general risks that most people are willing to take.  However, there are additional risks that cruise ship passengers are exposed to that they may not be aware of.  A recent investigation undertaken in Britain demonstrates that cruise ship passengers may not be as safe as they think they are.

Our cruise ship injury lawyers have extensive experience handling cruise ship accident cases that involve, among others, injuries relating to cruise ship swimming pools.  The story more fully discussed below describes just how dangerous cruise ship swimming pools can be and how innocent individuals have suffered injuries and deaths that may have been preventable.

The British investigation mentioned above reveals that cruise ship swimming pool drownings have become a significant concern.  A 7-year-old child drowned in a swimming pool while on vacation with his family.  Another case involves a female passenger who also drowned in a cruise ship swimming pool, and her situation proves to be particularly alarming for a number of reasons that include, but may not be limited to, the following: Continue reading →

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Our cruise ship injury lawyers have found the litigation of injury claims against cruise ships can involve complex, procedural rules stemming from the likely multiple jurisdictions involved. At the outset, parties should perform extensive legal and risk analysis to determine the best place to file a suit that would maximize the likelihood of a favorable result, as well as concerns of efficiency. The case below illustrates the procedural hurdles that plaintiffs may need to jump over to begin even litigating injury claims against cruise lines.

This case revolves around the highly publicized cruise ship accident of the MS Costa Concordia. The Concordia was an Italian-flagged vessel that, in 2012, was on a seven-day cruise from Civitavecchia to Savona, Italy. However, the ship ran aground after its Captain decided to deviate from the set course to do a maneuver, during which the Concordia hit a reef in Italian waters resulting in massive hull damage. The authorities evacuated over three thousand passengers, which included approximately 100 U.S. citizens, and over a thousand crewmembers. After the catastrophe, several passengers filed suit in the 11th Judicial Circuit Court in Florida against Carnival Corporation, which does business principally in London, Costa Cruise Lines, which operates out of Florida, Costa Crociere, an Italian corporation, and Joseph Farcus, an architect licensed in Florida. After a series of procedural actions, two groups of passengers refiled two separate actions against the same companies with the same claims. Carnival successfully removed both cases to a federal court and subsequently asked the court to dismiss both cases. The federal court remanded both cases to the 11th Judicial Circuit without resolving Carnival’s motion to dismiss. Continue reading →

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Cruise ship deaths often occur for a variety of reasons that are sometimes difficult to identify.  A way in which some people have lost their lives while on a cruise ship is to fall overboard.  The cruise ship industry asserts that the height of the railing on most cruise ships makes it extremely difficult to fall accidentally overboard, but this may not be true for all people.  The Florida Coast Guard has reported that passengers falling overboard or jumping from cruise ships occur more often than many people realize, stating that four to five people die each year off the coast of Florida from going overboard on a cruise ship.  This is an alarming amount that should raise concerns for passengers.

Our cruise ship accident lawyers at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano have extensive experience handling cruise ship accident cases that occur both off the coast of Florida as well as other parts of the world.  Falling overboard a very large cruise ship has a significant chance to result in fatal injuries, as some people have fallen nearly 100 feet to their death.  Our attorneys know how to quickly assess potential cases to determine if someone may be at fault for causing one’s injuries or death as a result of falling overboard a cruise ship. Continue reading →

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Daytime cruises around the shore or harbor of a city are thought to be fairly safe as you don’t stray very far away from land.  However, even daytime cruises can result in accidents that lead to injuries and sometimes death.  A recent cruise ship accident in San Diego, thought to be caused by a mechanical malfunction, resulted in three individuals being taken to the hospital for treatment of injuries.  The cruise ship accident occurred when the cruise ship was docking at San Diego’s Embarcadero Harbor when an alleged mechanical malfunction prevented the cruise ship from stopping.  The cruise ship, which is a 150-foot yacht, slammed into a concrete walkway, causing injuries that put three people in the hospital.

Our cruise ship accident lawyers have represented clients who have suffered injuries on daytime cruise ships close to land as well as those that tour the Caribbean and other seas.  In many situations, our clients have suffered injuries that were preventable and only occurred because of the negligent conduct of cruise ships as well as their operators and other crew members.  Mechanical malfunctions can be considered a form of negligence depending on the particular circumstances of the accident.

While this San Diego cruise ship accident did not result in fatal injuries, the possibility still existed for such fatal injuries to occur.  The three individuals who were hospitalized are lucky to be alive as the situation could have been much worse.  Despite the fact that nobody was critically injured or killed in this cruise ship accident, the situation still demonstrates that mechanical failures, as well as human error, play a role in a significant number of cruise ship accidents today. Continue reading →

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