Woman Presumed Dead After Accident on a Carnival Cruise Ship

We may never know why Rina Patel, a 32-year-old woman from Interlaken, New York, fell overboard from the Carnival Ecstasy as the ship sailed near Grand Bahama earlier this month.  Ms. Patel was last seen alive on Deck 11 shortly before dawn, and according to Carnival Cruise Line, she allegedly jumped.  Ms. Patel was on the cruise with her husband and family.  Carnival claims it initiated “man-overboard procedures,” which triggered a US Coast Guard search-and-rescue mission. Reports claim the search covered anywhere between 27 miles and as much as  2,800 square miles during a 43-hour period.  The ship returned to port in Charleston, South Carolina. One reason we will not know how or why Ms. Patel fell is that to date Carnival has failed to utilize man-over board technology (MOB) as required by law under the 2010 Cruise Vessel Safety Security Act (CVSSA).   The CVSSA specifically requires that cruise lines equip their ships with devices that can capture the images of passengers who fall overboard.  Unfortunately, this law applies only to ships that set sail for the first time after the law was enacted. Specifically, the law states the following: (D) The vessel shall integrate technology that can be used for capturing images of passengers or detecting passengers who have fallen overboard, to the extent that such technology is available. (E) The vessel shall be equipped with a sufficient number of operable acoustic hailing or other such warning devices to provide communication capability around the entire vessel when operating in high risk areas (as defined by the United States Coast Guard). Carnival proclaims on its website, “there is nothing...

Suing a Cruise Line for Rough Seas

Suing a cruise line for Injuries Due To Rough Seas People injured on a cruise ship from slipping, tripping, or falling should consider whether the ship’s movement played a role in the incident.  Often large cruise ships on strict itineraries plow through high winds and rough seas to deliver passengers to ports on time, so they can use their prepaid excursions and shop.  Cruise lines also don’t like to have to explain or compensate disgruntled passengers when they have to eliminate a port or two from the planned itinerary because of weather. As a result, passenger may encounter rough seas, which can at times become violent and cause injuries like broken bones, head and spinal injuries, and even brain damage.   Successfully suing a cruise line for an accident that occurs in rough seas caused by high winds is not as easy as many think. Often the case will even be dismissed. Consider the case of a woman who claimed she was injured while dancing aboard NCL’s Norwegian Gem:  Ms. Valerie Miller’s case was not handled by our firm, but the recently issued appellate decision is very instructive as to what must be shown to hold a cruise line liable for an accident caused by rough seas. Her lawsuit against Norwegian Cruise Line was dismissed on summary judgement. Here’s how and why: Ms. Miller’s claim, like the typical passenger accident lawsuit against a cruise line, is subject to federal maritime law.  And although she lives in New York, and NCL claims to be a Bahamian corporation, the lawsuit had to be filed in Miami’s Federal Courthouse. Not coincidentally NCL also...

Crew Member Tossed Overboard After Cruise Ship Accident

The search for Natalie Molina, a crew member of the Norwegian Pearl cruise ship, has finally been suspended after a rigorous search that began early last Thursday morning. The Coast Guard was notified about the incident at around 5:30 AM when Miss Molina could not be found in her cabin.  They immediately launched a search to establish her whereabouts. Authorities called off the search Friday evening around 5:00 PM as there was still no sign of Molina, alive or dead. Confirming the incident, Petty Officer Jon-Paul Rios said that closed-circuit video footage obtained from the ship clearly shows Molina falling overboard as the ship sailed from Seattle. Rios is the official spokesman for the Juneau Coast Guard. That is just about all that is known about the incident so far, along with stories put together from what appear now to have been her last moments aboard. Another official, Petty Officer Blake Fleming, Juneau Coast Guard’s command duty officer, said that they were forced to call off the search after about 42 hours of concentrated labor, which included the use of 13 different search patterns over a 340-square-mile area. Among the many groups that took part in the search for Natalie were response crews on Sitka helicopters from the Coast Guard Air Station and Alaska State Troopers as well as Ketchikan boat crews. The 25-year-old Natalie Molina—known to friends and workmates as Natty—was working as part of the cruise ship’s crew and appeared happy in photographs taken as the ship left Seattle on an Alaskan cruise to Glacier Bay.  Unfortunately for her, her stay aboard the Norwegian Pearl came to...

Tragedy Aboard World’s Largest Cruise Ship

Tragedy aboard RCCL’s Harmony of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship ever built:  a 42- year-old crew member from the Philippines was killed, and four others were seriously injured when a lifeboat detached from the ship during a safety drill while the vessel was docked in the Port of Marseille, France. Our lawyers and staff send our sincere condolences to the crew member’s family and wish the injured crew a speedy recovery.   Built by the STX shipyards in France, the Harmony of the Seas has 18 decks and the capacity to sail with 6,780 passengers and 2,300 crew. The ship has 2,747 passenger cabins including 1,768 with balconies, more paintings than the Louvre, and the ability to serve nearly 5,000 people at one time in its 20 restaurants and cafes.  It also boasts the deepest swimming pool at sea, providing a venue for synchronized swimmers and daredevil diving shows. For passengers, the Harmony offers zip lines, miniature golf courses, and 23 pools and other water attractions, featuring The Ultimate Abyss–a slide that plunges 10 decks–as well as a combination of twisting cylindrical waterslides known as The Perfect Storm, and a surfing simulator called the FlowRider. The Harmony of the Seas has been in service for only a few months, but its initial season has been plagued with accidents and incidents. That raises the question whether bigger ships may simply be less safe. The maiden voyage was by most accounts a disaster as upset passengers were disgusted to find the ship under construction, with many of the attractions not yet open to them. Angry passengers showered social media...

Cruise Ship Accident Lawyer’s Guide To Surviving A Motion For Summary Judgement

The most common case-killing legal defense utilized by cruise lines and the lawyers who defend them is the motion for summary judgment.  That legal maneuver is designed to derail the claims of injured passengers by ensuring that their cases never get to a jury.  I was taught in law school that summary judgments should rarely be granted. Summary judgment should occur only when the judge looks at all of the facts in a particular case and surmises there is no reasonable dispute over the material facts, and that no jury could possibly disagree should the case be dismissed. In order to defeat a request for summary judgment, the plaintiff must make a strong argument that a jury should decide for the passenger. Instead, in virtually every case we file on behalf of someone who was hurt while on a cruise, I see the defendant cruise line scurrying to file a motion for summary judgment in the hope that they can convince the judge to dismiss the entire case.  Getting past a summary judgment is the first of many hurdles a passenger’s lawsuit against a cruise line has to cross. Norwegian Cruise Lines is notorious for filing summary judgment motions and has been very successful in having case after case dismissed. Our law firm recently defeated NCL in a motion for summary judgment in the case of Pizzino v. Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL), on behalf of a woman who slipped and fell in a wet hallway. That case is now proceeding to trial. NCL lost another motion for summary judgment in the case of Marietta Virgillo, a case not handled...

Miami Cruise Ship Lawyer Discusses MSC’s Exciting New Addition

Swiss-owned mega cruise line MSC (Mediterranean Shipping Company) is gearing up for what will be their most exciting cruise ship launch to date. The soon-to-set-sail, gargantuan MSC Meraviglia will embark on its maiden voyage in June of 2017. Able to accommodate 5,714 guests, the Meraviglia will be one of the largest cruise ships in its fleet, just behind its competitor, Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas, with its capacity of 6,700 passengers. The ship will feature a number of exciting features, one of which is the collaboration between MSC and Cirque Du Soleil, which will be creating shows exclusively for the cruise ship. In addition to first-class entertainment, the ship will be equipped with high-tech features, thanks to another new partnership with South Korean electronics giant Samsung. Some of these additions will include an augmented-reality device that can show shoppers what they would look like in designer clothes sold in the ship’s retail shops, without having to try them on. There also will be no need to tote around any cash or credit cards while on board; purchases can be made using a smart bracelet that doubles as a locator to keep track on your children’s whereabouts on the ship, which may come in handy when they run off to the ship’s water park, which boasts three giant waterslide rides. For those whose sole purpose in going on a cruise is to “get away from it all” and disconnect from technology, MSC’s Executive Chairman, Pierfrancesco Vago, had this to say: “”We’re turning the idea of ‘turning it all off’ on its head and enabling our guests to use technology...
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