Although cruises offer virtually unlimited access entertainment, activities, culinary delights, and tours, passengers can suffer serious physical and emotional injury when cruise line operators fail to provide adequate security. Attacks against passengers and crew members that include rape, sexual battery, and other violent offenses occur on cruise ships and during shore excursions more often than you might think. Cruise ships have a duty to properly screen their crewmembers to prevent hiring individuals prone to commit criminal acts and to implement security procedures to keep passengers safe. Despite these duties, cruise lines sometimes fail to provide adequate security resulting in devastating consequences for cruise passengers. In this blog, our cruise injury lawyers discuss a recent incident reported by the media demonstrating exactly the wrong way for a cruise line to handle a passenger who reports a criminal attack.
This tragic incident involved an accomplished violinist and competitive swimmer named Mary who was enthralled by the idea of cruises. She collected cruise brochures when she would happen to pass a travel agency. Her fascination with cruises suddenly turned dark when she suffered a sexual assault on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, which was reported in the New Times. While experiencing a sexual assault is a horrific event under any circumstances, the cruise line was so dismissive regarding the consequences of this passenger’s experience that they made they situation worse.
The woman filed a lawsuit in Miami-Dade County against the cruise line alleging numerous forms of negligence. Mary signed a contract to work on Mariner of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. She was pleased during her first six weeks with the cruise ship and planned to extend her contract. These plans changed suddenly when Mary was woken in the middle of the night to find a man’s hands gripping her throat. The alleged assailant was another member of the ship’s crew who was dating Mary’s roommate. Mary told the New Times she repeatedly asked the man to stop and fought him off, but he got his clothes off and pinned her down. After Mary made lots of noise, the man climbed back into the roommate’s bed.
When Mary finally escaped the stateroom, she realized her ordeal was far from over. She informed the chief of security of the attack when she was still in shock, confused, and shaking. Although she visited the onboard doctor, she indicated he blew her off and dismissed her need for a rape kit to preserve evidence. Although the physician indicated she could speak to a psychologist by phone, he dismissed the need for such a call because she “looked fine.” Mary requested that a rape kit be performed and that a female administers the rape kit. The doctor dismissed Mary’s concerns and performed the rape kit. He joked that she owed him lunch.
Eventually, Mary became sick from the stress and anxiety associated with the sexual assault. She was confined to the room where the attack occurred. Rumors spread following the attack and led to Mary’s roommate refusing to talk to her while other members of the crew bullied her by accusing her of destroying the attacker’s future.
Mary eventually filed a lawsuit against Royal Caribbean and the co-worker who committed the sexual assault following the incident. In the wake of the attack, Mary spent a prolonged period suffering duress from the attack after she was home. Although she underwent extensive therapy, the cruise line refused to respond to her requests for help and assistance in pursuing therapy to facilitate her emotional recovery. The cruise line did not even have a representative contact her to acquire about her condition and progress.
This case demonstrates the challenge faced by victims of assault, rape, battery, sexual assault, and other crimes of violence during cruises. The doctor and security team might be the parties in a position to conduct an investigation and preserve evidence, but their loyalty to the cruise company means that the plaintiff has no disinterested party collecting evidence. If you are sexually or physically attacked during a cruise, you should contact the authorities on land, make a report to cruise security, insist on a rape kit (if appropriate), and seek medical or psychological assistance from a non-cruise medical professional at your earliest opportunity.
Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano: Seeking Maximum Recovery for Serious Injury and Wrongful Death Victims and Families
Our Miami cruise injury lawyers at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano offer the assistance you need to pursue the results you desire. For over 130 collective years, our firm has assisted accident victims in personal injury and wrongful death actions across South Florida. We seek to obtain compensation for your tangible and intangible damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. Our skill and dedication have earned us an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell and recognition as one of South Florida’s top firms by the Miami Herald. Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.