Because cruise companies often are based in foreign countries and operate their ships in navigable waters, there are many complex issues that have nothing to do with the merits, such as jurisdiction, choice of law, and venue issues. Personal jurisdiction essentially refers to the authority of the court to exercise power over the defendant. While this issue is fundamental to pursuing a lawsuit against a cruise excursion operator, the issue can be particularly difficult for a plaintiff. Excursions offer cruise passengers many opportunities for tours, recreation, and adventure, but these outings frequently occur in foreign countries that lack the safety laws and practices observed by U.S. tour operators. In this blog, our Miami cruise injury lawyers analyze an appellate court decision regarding personal jurisdiction of an excursion operator.
In the Florida 3rd DCA case of Haughey v. Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd., et al, a passenger bought a ticket in Puerto Rico to take part in an Island Sea-Faris tour excursion on Antigua. The trial court denied a motion to dismiss based on lack of personal jurisdiction over the excursion operator. The Managing Director of the tour company submitted an affidavit in support of the motion contending the company had no contacts with Florida. The excursion operator argued that no statute justified personal jurisdiction nor did the company have sufficient contacts with Florida. Continue reading →