Recently in Cruise Ship Passenger Injury Law Category

April 19, 2015

Carnival Cruise Passenger Killed in Jet Ski Crash

Westin Jet Ski Accident.jpgIt is being widely reported that a Carnival cruise passenger was killed in a Jet Ski crash during an excursion in the Cayman Island. The passenger was 31-year-old Robert Cole from Virginia. Media outlets confirm Cole and his travel companion 37-year-old Amy Comer were passengers aboard the Carnival Conquest. Both were thrown into the water when the Jet Ski they were riding collided with another personal water craft operated by a 15-year-boy from New York who was also a Carnival Cruise Line passenger. The accident occurred on Wednesday 15 April just before 1pm near the Westin Resort Hotel. Eyewitnesses stated the teen may have t-boned Cole's Jet Ski.

Cole was provided life saving treatment on shore. Medical emergency personnel responded to the beach and transported Cole and Comer to the hospital. Cole later died. Comer was treated and release while the boy sustained only minor injuries.

April 14, 2015

Hundreds of Passengers Sick aboard Celebrity & Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships

Cruise Norovirus.jpgThe CDC is reporting that 112 passengers aboard the Celebrity Infinity have come down with an illness causing vomiting and diarrhea. CDC personnel boarded the cruise ship in San Diego on Monday wherein they confirmed the outbreak was caused by Norovirus. This marks the third time the Celebrity Infinity has had a gastrointestinal virus outbreak.

Celebrity's parent company, Royal Caribbean, is also having problems with one of its San Diego based cruise ships. The CDC has reported on Monday that 114 have falling ill with Norovirus like symptoms aboard the Legend of the Seas. The cruise liner is due back in port on Tuesday wherein the CDC will conduct an investigation and hopefully determine the cause of the outbreak.

March 29, 2015

Passenger Arrested for Assault aboard the Carnival Triumph

Carnival Passenger Assault Law.jpgThe FBI has arrested 44-year-old Carnival Triumph passenger Joseph Allen on assault charges resulting in substantial bodily injury as the cruise ship docked at its home port of Galveston, Texas. Carnival Cruise Lines, in a press release, stated this past Wednesday there was a domestic dispute between Allen and his 14-year-old stepson requiring ship security to intervene. Allen was confined to his cabin for the remainder of the cruise. The 14-year-old passenger, after being evaluated by the ship's medical doctors, was recommended to disembark in Cozumel for further medical treatment. The boy, however, finished the cruise. Texas news outlets are reporting that the assault happened on the third day of a six day voyage while the Carnival Triumph was docked in Progreso, Mexico. Allen, who according to the boy's mother was drinking, attacked his stepson in one of the ship's hallways. Other passengers reported the incident to ship security who intervened. Carnival security personnel stated the reason for the attack was that Allen claimed he was tired of being disrespected by the boy. The FBI has jurisdiction over maritime criminal matters occurring on cruise ships away from United States ports.

Photo Credit: KTRK Houston

March 29, 2015

Passengers & Crew Evacuated as Smoke Billows from the Carnival Liberty

Carnival Liberty Passenger Evactuation.jpgMultiple news sources are reporting that passengers and crew members were evacuated off the Carnival Liberty when smoke emerged from the forward section of the cruise ship. The incident happened last Friday while the 10-year-old, 2,974 passenger cruise ship was docked in St. Maarten. The smoke billowing from the Carnival Liberty sent fire crews racing to the cruise terminal. A spokesperson from the cruise line stated the smoke was caused by an over-heated bearing. The ship left port as scheduled. No injuries have thus far been reported. The Carnival Liberty currently sails from San Juan, Puerto Rico. The cruise ship is scheduled to replace the Carnival Triumph in Galveston,Texas in March 2016. Readers may remember in 2013 the Carnival Triumph lost all power while in the Gulf of Mexico due to an engine room fire and was towed to Alabama for repairs.

March 28, 2015

Royal Caribbean Cruise Passenger Feared Dead

Liberty of the Seas Accident Attorney.bmpThe Coast Guard has called off its search for Frank Slippo, a Royal Caribbean cruise passenger, who fell overboard the Liberty of the Seas. CCTV cameras confirm that the 43-year-old Slippo climbed over the railing at around 9:00pm last Sunday before falling off the cruise ship. The Liberty of the Seas was approximately 20 miles off the Florida Keys when the incident happened. As required by maritime law, Royal Caribbean began a search and rescue mission once it was confirmed the passenger fell overboard. Coast Guard Sector Key West was notified and conducted a 1,734 square nautical mile search lasting more the 57 hours. Slippo is feared dead.

March 23, 2015

Injured Carnival Cruise Passenger Airlifted After Fall

Carnival Cruise Fall Injury.jpgMultiple sources are reporting that a Carnival cruise passenger was airlifted after suffering a fall . The 69-year-old female passenger, whose name has not been released at this time, fell last Thursday night aboard the Carnival Imagination injuring her head. The decision was made to contact the Coast Guard who dispatched a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter team. A rescue swimmer from the team was lowered down to secure the woman into the rescue basket before being lifted to the helicopter. The rescue occurred forty miles off the California coast. The passenger was transported to UC San Diego Medical Center for immediate care. It is reported that the passenger sustained significant head trauma from the fall. Though the passenger's head injury from the fall was significant enough to require emergency medical treatment, her condition is unknown at this time.

March 18, 2015

Passenger Falls Off Galveston Based Cruise Ship

Carnival Triumph.jpgMultiple media sources are reporting that a passenger is believed to have died after falling off a Galveston based cruise ship operated by Carnival. On the evening of March 17, 2015 shipboard personnel aboard the Triumph were notified that a 57-year-old passenger fell overboard while the ship was off the northern coast of Mexico. CCTV video confirmed the passenger fell overboard. Cruise lines have a duty under maritime law to perform a search and rescue mission once it becomes known that someone, whether that person is a passenger or crew member, has fallen overboard. It is reported that the ship notified Mexican authorities and initiated a search and rescue operation. The next morning Mexican authorities found a body believed to be the passenger who fell off the cruise ship. The Triumph was returning to Galveston from a five day Mexican cruise.

March 6, 2015

Two Passenger Drowning Incidents Occur at Disney's Castaway Cay

Disney Drowning Castaway Cay.jpgTwo drowning incidents occurred at Disney's Castaway Cay last week. Disney Cruise Lines has its own private island in the Bahamas where their passengers could partake in various aquatic activities. These activates include snorkeling, stingray encounters and simply swimming at the beach. With so many aquatic activates comes the danger of passengers drowning. This sadly occurred last week. A 28-year-old passenger from New York drowned while swimming at the adult beach. He was found unresponsive in the water and later pronounced dead by Bahamian authorities. A second incident involved an adult passenger who was snorkeling. The man was found unconscious in the water, was stabilized then evacuated to Miami for additional medical care. His condition is currently unknown.

Even though these incidents occurred off the cruise ship, maritime law governs Disney's legal responsibilities owed to the passenger. The law requires Disney to exercise reasonable care for their passengers' safety. This includes warning of known dangers the passengers may encounter while at Castaway Cay as well as implementing a reasonable safety precautions. Disney is one of the only cruise lines that hire life guards. In is unknown how many life guards were on duty or whether there was a sufficient number to monitor the hundreds of Disney passengers at Castaway Cay.

Our condolences to the family of the passenger who died and our best wishes for a speedy recovery to the passenger who was rescued.

February 3, 2015

Coast Guard Rescues Ill Passenger from Galveston Based Cruise Ship

Galveston Cruise Rescue.jpgThe first several weeks of 2015 have seen many medical evacuations from cruise ships. This time the Coast Guard rescued a passenger from the Galveston based Carnival Magic last Saturday. The emergency call was placed near 9 p.m. from the cruise ship's medical staff stating that a 51-year-old female passenger was suffering from respiratory problems. Air Station Houston dispatched a rescue helicopter. An ATC Mobile HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircrew was also launched to support the rescue. The rescue teams met up with the Carnival Magic 184 miles off the coast of Galveston. The passenger, along with the cruise ship's nurse, were hoisted onto the helicopter and taken to Scholes Airport. There an EMS team was standing by to transport them to University of Texas Medical Branch. Lieutenant Commander, Scott Sanborn, the operations officer at Air Station Houston stated, "Whenever we are responding to a case that is a significant distance offshore the risk is elevated, but with the expertise of both air crews, as well as the seamless coordination from the Sector Houston-Galveston command center personnel, we were able to safely transport the woman to the highest medical care possible."

The passenger is reported to be in stable condition.

February 2, 2015

Palm Beach's Grand Celebration Cruise Ship Fails Safety Inspection

The maiden voyage of Palm Beach's newest cruise ship the Grand Celebration was cancelled after it failed to pass a Coast Guard safety inspection. Several hundred passengers were hoping to watch Super Bowl and take advantage of the Grand Celebration's amenities over a two day cruise. After delaying the voyage for several hours, Charlie Kinnear, president of Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line, announced to the passengers that the cruise ship's public address system failed inspection. Without out having a properly functioning public address system, the ship could not be cleared to leave port. The ship's public address system is vital to passenger safety as it serves as the principal mean to communicate instructions in case of an emergency. Passengers were given the option of reschedule their voyages along with another free cruise or receive a refund. The Port of Palm Beach has not had a cruise ship since the Bahamas Celebration grounded in Freeport, The Bahamas last October 31st. The ill fated Bahamas Celebration was also owned by company of which Charlie Kinnear was president.

January 29, 2015

Royal Caribbean's Effort to Overrule Decision Making Cruise Lines Liable for Medical Malpractice Thwarted

Royal Caribbean Cruise Injury Law.jpgWe reported last November that the Federal Eleventh Circuit issued a landmark opinion called Franza v. Royal Caribbean. This ruling found cruise lines can be held vicariously liable for the medical malpractice of their ship board doctors. Prior to the Franza decision, trial courts would routinely dismiss passenger claims brought against cruise lines for doctors' malfeasance finding they are independent contractors. Being that most cruise ship doctors are from foreign countries, it was very difficult to obtain jurisdiction over their tortious acts in the United States. This caused devastating results for passengers who suffered at the hands of substandard doctors and for the families of loved ones who died because the cruise ship doctors provided poor care. Many truly hurt people were forced to go without just compensation as they were not allowed to sue the cruise lines for medical malpractice or unable to obtain jurisdiction over culpable foreign doctors. Franza changed this.

The Eleventh Circuit's opinion rejected the Fifth Circuit's 1988 Barbetta opinion which found cruise lines could not be sued for medical malpractice as they had no legal duty to provide their passengers with medical services of contracting doctors. The Eleventh Circuit, on the other hand, commented that there is a long history of precedent within maritime law that holds ship operators liable for the bad acts of their agents. The Eleventh Circuit then commented that given the cruise line charges for the doctors' services, have them ware uniforms and can terminate their services, a jury should make the factual determination of whether those doctors are no independent contractors.

Continue reading "Royal Caribbean's Effort to Overrule Decision Making Cruise Lines Liable for Medical Malpractice Thwarted " »

January 28, 2015

Sick Child Rescued from Carnival Cruise Ship

Houston area news outlets are reporting that the Coast Guard rescued a sick 8-month-old baby girl from the Carnival Triumph Monday. Sources say the emergency call went out because the small passenger was experiencing seizures and had difficulty breathing. A MH-65 Dolphin helicopter was dispatched from Air Station Houston to medevac the child, the child's mother and ship's nurse to Memorial Hermann Hospital.

The cruise ship was approximately 40 miles southeast of Galveston, Texas when the rescue occurred. Petty Officer 3rd Class Daniel Grow stated "It was very rewarding to be able to start a search-and-rescue career helping out a mother and her 8-month-old who really needed us at the time."

The child's condition has not yet been released. Below is footage of the rescue at sea.

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January 26, 2015

New Cruise Line Sexual Assault and Rape Reporting Law Champions Openness

New Cruise Saftey Law.jpgA new federal law passed earlier this month that requires the Department of Transportation to report crimes allegedly committed onboard a cruise ship. The new law is quite a departure from its predecessor, the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (hereinafter "Act"), which only made incident data available if the alleged crime was "no longer under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation."

Opponents of the law maintain it is not necessary, arguing that the major cruise lines began providing crime data on their respective websites in 2013. However, it is important to note that the data provided on these websites cannot be relied on as a representative figure insofar as the total number of crimes that occur aboard cruise vessels. Specifically, the major cruise lines only report incidents that meet the requirements of the Cruise Vessel and Safety Act, which limit reporting to incidents involving "homicide, suspicious death, a missing United States national, kidnapping, assault with serious bodily injury ... firing or tampering with the vessel, or theft of money or property in excess of $10,000." Thus, if a crew member stole something from a passenger not in excess of $10,000, then the cruise lines were not required to publicly disclose it. The above may be characterized as an illustration of the lobby efforts by the Cruise Lines to modify the Act in a way that only certain crimes require disclosure.

Continue reading "New Cruise Line Sexual Assault and Rape Reporting Law Champions Openness" »

January 23, 2015

New Law Forces Cruise Lines to Conduct Lifesaving Drills Sooner

Cruise Life Saving Law.jpgCruise lines operating international passenger voyages are now required to conduct muster / lifeboat drills before or shortly after the voyage begins. The Convention of the Safety of Life at Sea (commonly known as SOLAS) requires such drills so that passengers are made aware of their muster station location and instructed on the proper use of life preservers. Instruction on the procedures to be followed in the event of an emergency is also provided.

The prior regulation required cruise ships to hold a lifesaving drill within twenty-four hours from the embarkation of the voyage. SOLAS was amended in reaction to the Costa Concordia disaster where thirty-two died as a result of the captain's negligence and poor lifesaving planning. One of the biggest lessons learned from this tragedy is that the passengers did not know where to go when the ship started to sink. This confusion perhaps caused loss of life. Having the muster drill before, or shortly after, the voyage begins will arm passengers with the requisite knowledge of what to do and were to go should an emergency arise while at sea.

Continue reading "New Law Forces Cruise Lines to Conduct Lifesaving Drills Sooner " »

January 22, 2015

Americans Traveling on Foreign Cruises Reap Benefit from Athens Convention Overhaul

Athens Convention Damages.jpgMost American are unaware that international law caps damages for passengers who are hurt or die on cruises that leave from, call on and return to foreign ports. Adopted in 1974, the Athens Convention was intended to consolidate two earlier conventions addressing passenger injuries and luggage losses. Nearly every American cruise line adopts the Athens Convention for their wholly foreign cruises. For example, the below language is found in Royal Caribbean's ticket contract:

ON CRUISES WHICH NEITHER EMBARK, DISEMBARK NOR CALL AT ANY PORT IN THE UNITED STATES, CARRIER SHALL BE ENTITLED TO ANY AND ALL LIABILITY LIMITATIONS, IMMUNITIES AND RIGHTS APPLICABLE TO IT UNDER THE "ATHENS CONVENTION...

Carnival, Princess, NCL and Holland America have similar ticket provisions.

Continue reading "Americans Traveling on Foreign Cruises Reap Benefit from Athens Convention Overhaul " »