Cruise Lines Liable for Passengers’ Deaths Due to Inaccurate Excursion Information
On September 13, 2010, we posted an article about cruise lines’ liabilities for injuries and deaths occurring on shore excursions. Recently, a Miami, Florida Federal court determined a cruise line can be held liable for the wrongful death of a passenger during a shore excursion if the cruise line misstated the required skills, safeness and/or physical level of the tour in the cruise materials.
Many cruise lines’ websites list the types shore excisions available for the specific ports of call. Along with the list are descriptions about the various activities. Some cruise lines even rate the activities’ physical level so that passengers can determine whether they are physically able to participate.
In this case, daughters of a passenger sued the cruise line for the wrongful death of their mother who drowned during a snorkeling tour in the Cayman Islands. The daughters claimed the cruise line’s materials discussing the excursion misrepresented the activity and such misrepresentations lead to their mother’s death. The cruise line attempted to dismiss the case arguing a claim for misrepresentation does not exist under maritime law. The court disagreed, and determined cruise lines can be liable for the inaccurate or misleading written materials it produces about shore side activities. If it is proven the cruise line’s materials misrepresented the activity, the passenger justifiably relied on the misrepresentation in her decision to participate and was injured or died because of the inaccurate or misleading description, the cruise line will be held liable. The court further found the misrepresentation need not be intentional for the passenger or passenger’s family to recover.