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February 15, 2013

Carnival Passengers Stuck at Sea, a Brief Legal Breakdown

by Sam Ranard

As most of you know by now, recently a Carnival cruise ship lost power at sea after a fire broke out on board. Passengers were trapped for days without electricity, proper plumbing, or descent meals. The conditions were apparently horrible, mostly resulting from the ships failed plumbing systems. Passengers described the conditions as “hellish,” “sewage everywhere,” and “a cesspool.”

Carnival

According to a Reuters report at least one passenger has already filed a lawsuit against Carnival stating “horrifying” conditions including being forced to wade through human feces.

“The lawsuit by Cassie Terry of Brazoria County, Texas, alleged Carnival failed to provide a seaworthy vessel and sanitary conditions, according to court documents.” Reuters reported, “Terry suffered physical and emotional harm, including anxiety, nervousness and the loss of the enjoyment of life, according to the complaint filed in federal court in Miami.”

While the passenger’s experience onboard the liner was nothing short of awful, do they have a legitimate legal claim?

According to John, Carnival cruise line passengers signed stringent waivers and thus assumed the risk of this happening via contract. Therefore, cruise line damages are capped by contract. In the U.S., cruise ship contracts generally cannot dismiss claims for negligence that is willful and wanton or gross. Still tough here. The plaintiff(s) would have to show that they knew the engines were bad or in poor condition and likely to breakdown.

We will just have to wait and see what happens. Stay tuned for updates on the legal aspects of the Carnival cruise debacle.

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