Articles Posted in Injury Onshore Excursion

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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 →

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Cruises offer the opportunity to visit exotic ports of call and embark on fun, exciting tours, but many of these destinations have safety standards and practices that are lax by U.S. standards.  Permissive safety laws and regulations and depressed economic conditions can combine to make these locations dangerous for cruise passengers.  Our Miami cruise injury lawyers pursue claims on behalf of passengers who pursue lawsuits against cruise lines for injuries incurred during shore excursions.

In this blog post, our Florida cruise accident attorneys review a case involving a passenger who suffered devastating injuries in a fall when the ground beneath him collapsed in a port of call.  The passenger and his wife were on a Holland America cruise from San Diego to Mazatlán, Mexico.  The cruise line sold a tour to the couple operated by a Mexican company that took the couple to a place called Cliff Diver’s Plaza.  The passenger was hurt when he fell after pavement at the site collapsed beneath him as he was walking. Continue reading →

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When passengers book and embark on a cruise vacation, the cruise line and ship personnel will promote a multitude of potential shore excursions.  Activities like extreme sports, climbing waterfalls, and zip lining can involve a significant risk of harm.  Our cruise ship injury lawyers find that although injuries experienced during a tour or recreational activity on land do not occur on the ship, the cruise line might be liable when it promotes or coordinates the excursion.  A recent court decision involving a lawsuit against Royal Caribbean provides a primer on the legal complexities involved in proving liability of a cruise line for injuries during a shore excursion.

In this lawsuit, which was filed in the Southern District of Florida, the complaint alleged that the tour guide directed passengers to hold hands with other hikers as they climbed Dunn’s River Falls in Jamaica.  The plaintiff followed these instructions and held hands with a young girl as they made their ascent up the waterfall.  When the girl slipped and fell, the plaintiff was pulled down with her.  The complaint also alleged that Royal Caribbean had knowledge or should have known of the risk of holding hands while traversing the falls.  Since the cruise ship failed to warn of this reasonably foreseeable risk, the passenger sought to hold Royal Caribbean liable. Continue reading →

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Miami cruise ship attorneys, Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano, have over 130 combined years of litigation experience.  They have seen cases with many different factual scenarios. In fact, their experience will tell them that each case is unique: the people are different, the injuries are different, and the circumstances of the incident are different.  The defense to cruise ship claims, however, are predictable. Cruise ships try to avoid paying any money to compensate people for their injuries and use the same defenses in every case. Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano have the experience to anticipate certain defenses are prepared to counter them convincingly.

In the Thompson v. Carnival Corporation, the defendant Carnival asked the judge to dismiss the case against them when the plaintiff, Thompson, sued them for injuries Thompson suffered during a shore excursion. Thompson was a passenger aboard a Carnival cruise ship. During the cruise, Carnival offered all-terrain vehicle (“ATV”) on shore excursions. Another company operated the ATV excursions. Thompson suffered serious injuries when the brakes of the ATV on which he rode failed.  Thompson sued Carnival and the excursion company. 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 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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When a passenger is injured while at sea or on shore during a cruise, the complex matrix of applicable laws and jurisdictional authority makes pursuing a legal claim challenging.  While maritime law governs such claims, gaps in this area of law often mean that Florida statutory or common law will govern particular legal claims.  Many people presume that the cruise line will be liable for injuries that occur during a cruise, but liability must be established through development of sufficient legal and factual allegations to state a valid cause of action (typically negligence).  The recent federal case, Rojas v. Carnival, illustrates that a legal claim for negligence in a maritime action cannot be pursued without a reasonable degree of factual specificity.

Our cruise ship injury lawyers found that the plaintiff filed a lawsuit after suffering injury in a scooter accident after the brakes failed.  The parties rented the scooter during a land excursion while the Carnival Sensation cruise ship was docked in the Nassau, Bahama port area.  The motorized bike crashed into a light pole when the brakes suddenly failed, causing the plaintiff to suffer serious injuries. Continue reading →

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This is the second installment of a two-part blog post discussing the federal case of Wolf v. Celebrity Cruises, Inc.  This installment analyzes application of the law given the specific facts in the case, but you are invited to read Part I for a clear outline of the facts.  Wolf advanced a number of legal theories supporting liability that included: (1) duty to warn, (2) negligent hiring and retention, (3) joint venture, and (4) actual agency.  In analyzing these claims, the court observed that federal maritime law applies to torts committed aboard a ship on navigable waters.  These rules of liability also extend to ports-of-call and excursions on land according to the court.  Further, the court noted that the disclaimers in the passenger ticket contract and the OCT waiver cannot shield the cruise line from liability for their own negligence that causes injury to passengers.  Wolf contended that the cruise line was negligent in failing to warn passengers of dangerous conditions related to the zip line excursion.  He also alleged that the cruise line was negligent in selecting and retaining OCT.

In response to these contentions by Wolf, the cruise line presented the following evidence that it was not negligent: Continue reading →

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Cruises provide a wealth of fun and recreational activities for family members of all ages.  Although this form of travel offers a cornucopia of activities, they can pose serious risks, especially if third parties companies recommended by the cruise line during shore excursions fail to comply with industry safety standards.  However, federal maritime law related to personal injuries suffered by passengers during activities on land during a cruise can be complicated.  A recent lawsuit heard in federal court for the Southern District of Florida provides a primer for the analysis a court will apply when considering the liability of a cruise line for this type of activity.  This two-part blog post analyzes this case to provide a detailed analysis of the inquiry a court will engage in when determining whether a cruise line is liable for injuries caused by another company during a shore excursion.  Part I of this blog focuses on the facts of the case while Part II reviews the court’s analysis of the cruise ship injury victim’s theories of liability.

In Wolf v. Celebrity Cruises, a passenger was injured while engaging in zip line activity with a company that had been promoted by the cruise line.  Mr. Wolf failed to raise his legs while zip lining from an elevated platform to a platform on the ground, which resulted in serious injury.  He had signed Celebrity’s Cruise/Cruisetour Ticket Contract which provided as follows: Continue reading →

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