September 1, 2012

A federal appeals court ruled recently that a family may move forward with their complaint against Carnival Corp. The parents and brother of a 15-year-old girl accuse the company of negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress in connection with her death. The cruise line, which made headlines this year when its Costa Concordia foundered, had won a motion to dismiss the case.

The family was on a Carnival cruise to the Caribbean in July 2010. On the recommendation of a Carnival employee, they visited an area of an island that was not included in the ship’s scheduled excursions. The area, it turns out, was well-known for drug activity, theft and gang violence.

As the family returned to the ship in an open-air bus, they came upon a funeral procession for a gang member. When alleged gang members started to shoot, the bus was caught in the crossfire. The 15-year-old was shot in the abdomen. In the chaos that followed, calls for an ambulance went unheeded, leaving the bus driver to rush the girl, her family and the rest of the passengers to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

When it granted the motion to dismiss the case, the lower court said the family’s claims were insufficiently factual. The three-judge appellate panel believed that the facts presented by the family were plausible. The court said that Carnival regularly monitors criminal activity in its ports of call so the company knew or should have known of the area’s reputation for violence. And, knowing the area’s reputation, the employee should have warned the family.

Carnival would only say that it does not comment on pending litigation.

Source: Business Insurance, “Family of bystander killed in St. Thomas gang violence can sue Carnival: Court,” Judy Greenwald, Sept. 10, 2012

Our firm handles negligence claims like the one filed by the family in this post. If you would like to learn more about our Portland and Seattle practice, please visit our personal injury page.


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