Cruise lines and the lawyers who sue them are closely watching a recent verdict against Carnival’s Holland America, which just got hit by a huge decision in a passenger personal injury lawsuit that resulted in a $21.5-million-dollar judgment.
Following a lengthy and hard-fought trial, a federal jury in Seattle, Washington, awarded $21.5 million in damages to an Illinois passenger who suffered a traumatic brain injury on a Holland America cruise ship while walking past an automatic sliding-glass door onboard back in 2011. The verdict included $16.5 million in punitive damages, which are special damages designed to punish the defendant.
James Hausman, a 61-year-old resident of Springfield, Illinois, and his attorneys argued during a nine-day jury trial that dozens of other Holland America passengers were also injured by the sliding doors on Holland America cruise ships because of problems with the automatic sensors,
Holland America, which is wholly owned by Carnival Cruise Lines, the largest cruise ship company in the world, has denied the allegations and has already filed motions asking the Judge to reduce the judgment. In the alternative, Holland America has vowed to appeal the verdict.
Video surveillance video (CCTV) shows Mr. Hausman walking through the automatic sliding glass doors, when they slammed him in the face. He and his family were beginning an around-the-world cruise aboard the M/S Amsterdam.
Holland America claims that Mr. Hausman simply walked into the closing doors, and therefore the incident was his fault. The ship’s doctor diagnosed him with a concussion and allowed Mr. Hausman to complete the cruise.
According to the injured passenger’s lawyers, diagnostic tests performed once he had returned home revealed that in addition to the concussion, Mr. Haussmann had suffered a minor traumatic brain injury (TBI) that causes seizures, memory loss, and vertigo.
The discovery process revealed that Holland America incurred up to 34 documented sliding-door incidents throughout its fleet, going back three years on its other vessels. U.S. District Judge Barbara Rothstein allowed the jury to hear about 16 of those substantially similar prior incidents.
Apparently, the motion sensors on the sliding glass doors were configured by Holland America to open and close faster than normal to minimize the amount of air conditioning that might be lost by an open for a prolonged period. We believe this is a clear example of a cruise line’s putting its profits ahead of passenger safety.
Cases like this are not uncommon, as we have found that when we sue a cruise line like Holland America for slip, trip, and fall incidents, it is not uncommon to find similar incidents that have occurred, not only on the same vessel, but also on others in the fleet.
Fortunately for Mr. Hausman, CCTV footage was available to show precisely how and why the incident occurred. Often when we sue a major cruise line like Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, or Norwegian, the cruise line claims there is no CCTV footage of the incident. In the modern age of surveillance video, it is increasingly difficult for me to believe that the footage does not exist.
Our law firm has been battling the major cruise lines on behalf of injured passengers since 1991. One of the first things we do when we investigate similar cases is obtain the CCTV footage, not just to prove that the incident did in fact occur, but also to understand why.
Many people who are involved in cruise ship accidents think that simply because they were hurt during a cruise, the cruise line is responsible for compensating them. This is not true. First, we have to prove that the accident was the cruise ship’s fault, in that they knew or should have known of the dangerous condition–or in this case actually created it by configuring the doors to close quickly.
Injured on a Holland America Cruise Ship
If you have been injured aboard a cruise ship anywhere in the world, we recommend that you contact an experienced maritime accident lawyer immediately, so that a detailed investigation can be performed. Suing a cruise line requires an in-depth understanding of maritime, international, and personal injury law. The average personal injury lawyer is generally inexperienced in how to sue a major cruise line successfully. You need an experienced lawyer who specializes in cruise ship injury trials.
We offer any potential cruise ship claimant a free initial legal consultation, via telephone, email or SKYPE. Let our 50 years of combined legal experience work to help you get the compensation you deserve. Call today: 1-866-597-4529 or email us at [email protected].