All major cruise lines require injured passengers to file lawsuits in certain courts. Royal Caribbean, for the most part, requires legal claims to be brought in the Federal court located in Miami, Florida. The reason for the “Federal Forum Selection” is because cruise lines think the Federal Court system will yield smaller plaintiff awards. Royal Caribbean recently started to include English forum selection clauses in tickets purchased in the United Kingdom even though the cruise departs from Florida. Such an English forum selection clause was the subject of the dispute between Royal Caribbean and Brais Law Firm’s client.
In 1991 the Supreme Court decided in Carnival Cruise Lines v. Schute cruise lines can select the geographical location where their passengers must bring a lawsuit. Since that landmark decision, cruise lines inserted such restrictions in their tickets booklets. However, to be found enforceable, the cruise line must reasonably communicate the forum selection clause to their passengers. To accomplice this, the cover of many ticket booklets have bold face type which alerts the passenger that the ticket is a binding legal contract and invites the passenger to review certain pages in the ticket booklet which addresses the rights between the passenger and cruise line. Within the booklet the restrictive language is also in bold and in all capital letters. Courts consistently find such actions reasonably communicate the specific forum where a lawsuit must be brought.