When passengers choose a cruise as their mode of travel, they reasonably anticipate that the crew will provide an enjoyable and safe experience. The last thing cruise guests expect is that they will become a violent crime victim with the perpetrator being a member of the staff or crew hired to make the experience an enjoyable voyage. Unfortunately, stories of passengers being attacked, raped, or killed by the criminal acts of cruise ship personnel appear far too frequently in media reports. In this blog post, our Miami cruise ship accident attorneys review such an incident that resulted in a confidential settlement between the cruise line and the passenger.
The Sun Sentinal published an article late last year after the former cruise ship worker complained in front of a federal judge that the former employee was having a difficult time dealing with the violence in prison. The former employee of a major cruise line was sentenced to thirty years in prison after a violent attack during which he brutally assaulted and attempted to kill a female cruise passenger. Prosecutors described the incident that occurred on a cruise that left from Port Everglades as an extraordinarily violent and cruel attack.
The former employee confessed to using his master key to obtain entry into the passenger’s cabin. He concealed himself on the balcony of the victim before unleashing the brutal attack. The crime, which occurred on Valentine/s Day of 2014, was a horrific attack that lingered on for thirty to sixty minutes. At various stages during the attack, the assailant struck the passenger with objects in the room, choked her with a power cord, and tried to toss her overboard from her balcony according to documents filed in the lawsuit.
Although the recommended guideline sentence was 14 to 17.5 years, the trial judge sentenced the attacker to thirty years and five months. The former cruise line employee successfully appealed the conviction because an appellate court determined the trial judge failed to adequately justify his significant upward departure from the sentencing guidelines, which are designed to ensure that offenders receive comparable punishments for similar crimes. However, U.S. District Judge Jose Martinez imposed the same punishment with more clearly articulated grounds for the departure from the penalties recommended by the federal sentencing guidelines. The magistrate justified the penalty because of the extreme violence of the assailant’s actions, as well as the severe consequences on the victim that included cognitive and physical impairments, PTSD, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
The nature of the assault suggests that the employee might have had identifiable psychological issues. The man claimed that the motivation for his attack was that he believed the victim had insulted his mother. When he delivered room service to the passenger’s cabin, he heard her say “son of a bitch” through the door. Although it might be hard to imagine this as a justification for the violent attack, this incident reveals the importance of cruise line operators exercising a proper background investigation during the hiring process.
Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano: Seeking Maximum Recovery for Serious Injury and Wrongful Death Victims and Families during Cruises
While an adequate background check on employees and staff can mitigate the risk of this type of incident on a cruise, the decision to cut corners in the hiring process can expose passengers to the threat of violent criminal acts that include a battery, assaults, rape just to name a few examples. 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.