The Staten Island City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has reported that Prince Adepoju of Maryland, the eight-year-old boy who was found at the bottom of a swimming pool aboard RCCL’s Anthem of the Seas last month, has died. The boy was airlifted from Anthem of the Seas on June 30, 2016–shortly after the ship left the port of Bayonne, New Jersey–to Staten Island University Hospital in Ocean Breeze, where he remained in critical condition until he died.
The accidental drowning on Anthem of the Seas ship was reported after the child had been in the pool for 8-10 minutes before he was rescued at 8:00 p.m. and the ship was diverted back to port. According to email from a spokeswoman for the medical examiner’s office, “The cause of death is drowning, with contributing condition of seizure disorder. The manner of death is accident.”
WHAT ARE CRUISE LINES DOING TO PREVENT ACCIDENTAL DROWNINGS?
I have written a number of blog posts about my belief that cruise lines should be required to post lifeguards at pools, and then read the scathing comments blaming grieving parents for not adequately supervising their own children.
Instead of debating who is at fault for the wrongful death of a child on a cruise ship, I would rather examine how and why it could be prevented. After all, shouldn’t protecting the life of an innocent child be the most important issue?
Today’s mega cruise ships are monstrous floating cities that carry more people than lived in many of the small towns in America, and these behemoths are designed for one purpose only: to create profit for the billion-dollar cruise lines.
THE DEATH ON THE HIGH SEAS ACT
Cruise lines enjoy the most extraordinary legal protection of any industries on the planet. In the last 25 years I have represented grieving families who have lost loved ones in car accidents, through medical malpractice, and from defective products and drugs. In each case, the defendant has been under a legal obligation to compensate the estate, surviving spouse, parents, or other beneficiaries money for their pain and suffering. Not cruise lines.
Congress has exempted cruise lines from fundamental labor laws, environmental regulations, and personal injury liability. Fewer regulations simply mean less accountability and greater profit. Cruise ships have all of the amenities of a Las Vegas resort plus a theme-park hotel in Orlando with none of the accountability even though the major three cruise lines–Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian–are all based in Miami, Florida.
The Death on the High Seas Act, which is the wrongful death act that applies to cases where people die while on a cruise ship, is the greatest and worst example of this inequity because it allows the family to sue for only the financial losses of a decedent–not for their pain and suffering.
For example, in the case of Prince Adepoju, the family would be entitled to recover only the medical expenses and funeral expenses, as it is unlikely that the boy could qualify for a lost-wage claim. While this may sound understandably ghoulish, it is important to understand that the only way to get the cruise lines to change how they do business is to get their attention by suing them and compelling them to pay out verdicts.
Clearly, Congress is not motivated enough to legislate a change on this issue. And given the other controversial issues that Congress is unable to resolve–gun control, healthcare, and immigration–I cannot imagine that this is a priority, though of course it should be.
Lawyers like me who sue cruise lines are really the best and perhaps only hope that injured passengers and their families have of holding the seemingly omnipotent cruise industry accountable when their negligent conduct harms and kills.
If you have been injured during your cruise, we recommend that you speak to an experienced cruise ship accident lawyer immediately. We provided a free and confidential initial consultation to anyone around the world who may have a potential claim against a cruise line like MSC, Disney, Carnival, Royal, Norwegian, Celebrity, Holland America, Princess, Regent Seven Seas, and others. Call us today, toll free at 1-866-597-4529 or 305-441-0440, email us at [email protected], or SKYPE us. We are ready to help.