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NBC recently featured attorneys Thomas Scolaro and Adam Rose for their latest lawsuit against Royal Caribbean on behalf of Phoebe Moon and her parents.  The nine-month-old Phoebe Moon was amputated as a result of Royal Caribbean’s doctors’ negligence who missed clear signs of meningococcocal meningitis infection.  After sending the parents back to their cabin five times without affording any care to their baby, the doctors reluctantly allowed the family to go off-shore for a medical consult.  The local emergency doctors diagnosed Phoebe with meningitis at first glance and they went to work on her immediately.  They later told the Moons that Phoebe was minutes away from losing her life.

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trunks_birdsThe cruising industry has more than doubled in the last two decades. In the last 15 years alone, the number of cruise passengers has increased from 15 million to 30+ million. To satisfy the demand, cruise lines have built increasingly large ships that can host over 5,500 passengers and over 2,300 crew-members. Consequently, the number of injuries sustained by passengers and crew-members has also increased.  As a result, Leesfield Scolaro’s general maritime attorneys have been retained to represent injured passengers and crew-members for the last 20 years.

If you are an adult, how long do you have to file a lawsuit?

Your ticket contract is where you will find the answer. Typically, cruise line ticket contracts will disclaim that a lawsuit against them for an injury claim must be filed within one year from the date the incident occurred.

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Miami attorneys Ira H. Leesfield and Thomas Scolaro represent the family of Phoebe Moon who at 9-months old lost both her feet and half of her fingers due to the indefensible medical negligence of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCCL) ship board physicians. Phoebe is now a triple amputee forced to live her life with unimaginable handicaps, limitations and mental trauma reserved for the most damaged in society.

A complaint was filed today against the Miami-headquartered cruise line on behalf of Phoebe and her parents, Aime and Luke Moon, whose nightmare began on the Symphony of the Seas on February 24th. At 8:30 a.m. that morning they took Phoebe to the ship’s infirmary in a panic. Phoebe was pale, lethargic, feverish, tachycardic, dehydrated, and had been vomiting intermittently. Phoebe needed immediate medical attention for exhibiting clear and classic signs of meningococcal meningitis infection.

Dr. Kalander, RCCL’s physician, ignored the marked lethargy and most other symptoms exhibited by the baby. Phoebe was mis-diagnosed with acute gastroenteritis. Phoebe and her parents were told to go back to their room as part of an isolation protocol for the gastroenteritis.

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Attorney Thomas Scolaro was recently featured in an exclusive interview on LawDragon.com.  Notably Mr. Scolaro addresses results past and present, including the successful litigation against a furniture manufacturer and the hurdles in forcing the industry to change inadequate industry standards to prevent toddlers from sustaining fatal injuries:

LawDragon: Can you describe a recent matter that you’ve handled?

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Thomas Scolaro: A two-year-old boy was killed when he tried to climb up his dresser to reach the baby-cam. As he pulled out the drawers to climb to the top, the center of gravity shifted and the dresser tipped over onto him. He asphyxiated to death. He only weighed 30 pounds yet was able to cause the dresser to tip over. We successfully settled the lawsuit with the manufacturer. However, since this dresser was actually compliant with all furniture industry tip-over standards, I felt that we needed to shine a flashlight on the inadequacy of the voluntary furniture tip-over standard and hold them accountable. I am currently suing the furniture industry trade group, American Home Furnishings Alliance and ASTM International for negligently promulgating a known inadequate tip-over standard. A 30-pound, two-year-old boy should never be able to tip over a dresser. If that can happen then the standard used by manufacturers is grossly inept.

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On Monday during a shore excursion sponsored by Carnival Cruise Lines, 32 passengers became injured when their tour bus wrecked on the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas. The circumstances around the incident itself are still under investigation, however it was confirmed that this was a single-vehicle accident.

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Last year, Leesfield Scolaro represented a large group of people in a lawsuit against Carnival after their Bahamas tour bus flipped over which caused injuries ranging from superficial to life-altering. That incident, along with many other incidents involving shore excursion tour buses, was caused by an inexperienced and unlicensed driver, which both the tour operator and the cruise line had failed to vet, placing passengers’ lives at risk. The police investigation, supported by forensic evidence, showed that the bus driver was speeding on a dirt road. The reckless operator lost control of the vehicle, and it ultimately flipped over, throwing out many passengers in the process.

For over two decades, Leesfield Scolaro has litigated countless cases against the major cruise lines due to their negligence – often times indefensible disregard toward their passengers’ safety – in selecting and vetting safe shore excursion operators and equipment. Attorneys Ira H. Leesfield and Adam T. Rose recently explained in an article how to hold Cruise Lines liable for injuries sustained during shore excursions, regardless of the fact that Cruise Lines will fight vigorously to avoid liability and hide under the “independent operator” table.

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According to reports, half a dozen Princess Cruise passengers have died in a horrific mid-air collision incident. The tour – Misty Fjords National Monument by Seaplane (with Wilderness Landing) – was booked through Princess Cruises, either on board or on Princess Cruises’ website.

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Photo from Taquan Air’s website – Taquan Air was involved in the mid-air collision over Alaska on May 13, 2019

The investigation into the circumstances and causes of the collision are already under way with teams from the Coast Guards, the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board already on scene.

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Lila Gale and her family were set to cruise in the Caribbean aboard the MS Zuiderdam when she sustained a stroke within 100 miles of Florida. The symptoms she displayed left no room for error and the Holland America Line (HAL) doctor diagnosed her with having sustained a stroke within minutes.

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With the severity of the condition, coupled with the proximity of the ship to Broward Health Medical Center – a comprehensive stroke center in Fort Lauderdale – a medical evacuation had to be ordered and implemented without delay. Instead, Lila received the most odious and deplorable treatment from HAL which ultimately doomed her health, causing irreversible brain damage.

Upon arrival to the ship’s infirmary, Lila was noted to be confused, drowsy and with slurred speech. A provisional diagnosis of “severe stroke” was made. At this very moment, a medical air-evacuation was both medically necessary and operationally feasible. However, against all common emergent medicine sense and standards, HAL’s doctor, Dr. Socrates Lopez did not order a medevac. Instead he intubated Lila and observed her health deteriorate for the next two hours without attempting to further treat his patient.

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According to CLIA, an estimated 27.2 million passengers cruised around the world in 2018. As a maritime and cruise injury law firm, Leesfield Scolaro evaluates close to a thousand potential cases every year where a passenger became injured during a cruise. Below are answers and common-sense guidance for cruise passengers who fell victims to cruise lines’ negligence:

Where do I sue?

Most cruise lines require that passengers file their personal injury lawsuit in Federal Court, in the Southern District of Florida (Miami) where the biggest cruise lines are headquartered. The most notable exceptions are Holland America Line (Seattle) and Princess Cruise Line (California).

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zipline-300x225Awful cruise line news broke last week about a newlywed couple who collided with each other during a zip line tour in Roatan, Honduras, resulting in death and injuries. The individuals involved in the incident, an Israeli couple, were celebrating their honeymoon with a cruise vacation on Royal Caribbean’s vessel Allure of the Seas. Sadly, it is a scene repeated all too often.

Cruise lines, which form a $40 billion dollar a year industry, derive substantial profits from shore excursions which they market and sell to passengers as part of the cruise vacation experience. Passengers should be very cautious before deciding to go on a cruise sanctioned shore excursion, as many of the basic safety standards and regulations mandated in the United States go absent or unenforced in foreign cruise ports of call.

In the last few years there have been many injuries and deaths from zip lining incidents during a cruise line shore excursion. In fact, several such incidents have occurred before in Roatan, Honduras. In 2015 a passenger on Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas was horrifically injured while zip lining in Roatan on a zip line that was negligently operated with too much slack in the line. In 2009 a passenger on a Norwegian Cruise Line vessel plummeted to her death when a zip line cable in Gumbalimba Park, Honduras, snapped in mid air. There have been many other instances of death and injury from zip lining in other foreign ports of call, normally from faulty equipment and excursion operator error.

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An increased number of cruise ship accidents/incident remains unreported and often absent from the accountability of the civil justice system. Unexpected cruise ship injuries and events are prompted by fierce industry expectations. This is really an issue of cruise industry economics where the vessels no longer sell just the cruise experience, but rather, provide more added dangerous related activities to boost sales. There are more “thrills” available resulting in more injury and deaths.

The modern cruise ship can be a floating city of 6,000 people. There are no police or security forces, no limit on alcohol consumption and practically no limit on the ingenuity of the cruise lines to provide “theme park” activities. Consider for a moment, a small town of 6,000 with no rules, no control of alcohol consumption, poor medical care, and total lack of structure to heighten “fun”.

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Aboard ship, there are multiple opportunities for serious injury. The walkways, pavement surfaces and common hallways are often wet, slippery or unmaintained, host for injuries to the senior citizen passenger population. The passengers, including unsupervised children, are invited to dangerous water slides, competitive sports, rock climbing, basketball, tennis, parasailing, jet ski, snorkeling/scuba diving excursions, bus excursions and a myriad of ways for passengers to get hurt without any supervision. Food and alcohol abound! Drinks are unlimited and passengers are over served, often creating a carnival like atmosphere. When the inebriated passenger meets an unmonitored condition, danger is created. Food and foreign substances fall off overflowing buffet plates and onto the floor. Pools, hot tubs and water activities make decks slippery and unsafe.

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