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Pitfalls for Passengers (post-COVID and otherwise):

Disney Cruise Lines re-opens June 26 with all major cruise lines to follow.

Beware of injuries on Inaugural  cruises. . . the cruise industry is re opening with a fury. There is no certainty on how they will handle COVID, or how well their reinstated crew is trained. Remember, even before COVID,  numerous cases of Norovirus  were reported annually as ships came to port. So, Sanitation and safety issues must be paramount along with crowd control and CDC compliance. Will your co-passengers be vaccinated?   Are you willing to spend days or weeks with those likely to spread the virus?  Or, worse yet, confined in a ship’s infirmary?

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Pitfalls for Passengers:

Disney Cruise Lines re-opens June 26 with all major cruise lines to follow.

Beware of injuries on Inaugural cruises. . . The cruise industry is re-opening with a fury. There is no certainty on how they will handle COVID, or how well their reinstated crew is trained. Remember, even before COVID, numerous cases of Norovirus were reported annually as ships came to port. So, Sanitation and safety issues must be paramount along with crowd control and CDC compliance.  Will your co-passengers be vaccinated?  Are you willing to spend days or weeks with those likely to spread the virus?  Or, worse yet, confined in a ship’s infirmary?

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COVID-19 brought more boaters and more watersports enthusiasts into close proximity, making waterways more congested.  Cruise lines are now experimenting with post pandemic precautions.  Americans and international travelers are ready to put coronavirus in the rear-view mirror, but many pre-existing water related hazards will be amplified by over enthusiasm on the water.

Is it safe to get back in the water?

Recently and over the past 40 years, our firm has been asked to investigate a significant number of cases involving collisions between watercraft in the bay, ocean and waterways surrounding Florida.

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Millions around the globe are eagerly awaiting a green light to resume cruising once again.  The decision to restart cruise operations carries with it an obligation on behalf of the cruise lines to ensure the safety of the passengers, crew, and residents of the various ports forming the infrastructure of the cruise industry.  Cruise enthusiasts should carefully consider the decision to book their next cruise vacation, including locations and precautions.

The cruise line industry has been on “pause” since the pandemic arrived in March 2020.  Now, the situation is fluid and unpredictable, with return dates changing like the tides.  In the U.S., Carnival Cruise Line plans on resuming cruises in North America on June 27, 2020. Norwegian Cruise Line has delayed North American operations through May 31, 2021.  And Royal Caribbean has suspended operations until the start of May 2021.  Canada has extended a full ban on cruising until February 28, 2022, and in the UK cruises are on hold into summer 2021.  In other parts of the world, some Asian and European cruises have already set sail in the new normal.

When cruises resume in the U.S. they will be subject to a strict safety framework issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  The goal is to ensure that ship operators have adequate health and safety protections and crewmember testing protocols in place to stop the spread of the virus.  Before fully operational cruises commence, the lines will be required to conduct simulated voyages to test their ability to mitigate COVID-19 risk.  Thereafter, a phased return to passenger voyages will be permitted once virus safety and virus spread mitigation has been demonstrated.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommend that all people avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises, worldwide.  Passengers who decide to go on a cruise are instructed to get tested for COVID-19 three to five days in advance of a voyage, and to remain home for a full 7 days after travel even if they test negative after returning to home port.  Some cruise lines have indicated they will require all passengers to receive a COVID vaccine prior to boarding.  Others, including Norwegian Cruise Line, have already begun requiring the crew to be vaccinated.  The cruise lines have indicated they will work with medical and scientific experts to develop best practices for safe sailing.

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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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