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Leesfield & Partners: A History of Protecting Cruise Ship Guests and Employees from Corporations.

While packing sunscreen or researching potential sights to see, no one expects that their long-awaited cruise vacation might end in tragedy. However, in its decades of practice, Leesfield & Partners has seen all too well just how easily these trips can take a turn for the worse. 

Whether it be crashes on excursion buses, slipping on decks void of regulation handrails or an on-board medical professional refusing to evacuate a guest, Leesfield & Partners has seen families through it all. These tragic injuries have changed the lives of cruise ship guests, employees, and their loved ones, forever marring what should have been a beautiful memory of a relaxing getaway or just another day at work. 

In 2023, approximately 7.3 million people went through Port Miami on their way to their cruises.

In 2023, approximately 7.3 million people went through Port Miami on their way to their cruises.

Leesfield & Partners introduced to cases via “strategic alliances”

The firm’s history fighting for cruise ship safety began through “strategic alliances,” the firm’s Founder and Managing Partner, Ira Leesfield, said. Miami, where the law firm originated, acts as a hub for over two dozen cruise lines earning it the title of “Cruise Capital of the World.” Approximately 7.3 million passengers passed through the city in 2023 on their way to their cruise ships and the addition of eight new ships is expected to bring in about 18,539 additional passengers, according to reporting from the Miami Herald.

One such ship includes Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas, a 1,198-foot-long ship able to carry almost 8,000 people. As of 2024, the same year as the ship’s inaugural voyage, the Icon of the Seas is the largest cruise ship in the world. With the inclusion of more and bigger ships breeds the possibility for life-altering injuries, devastating assaults and medical malpractice incidents like that of a 9-month-old baby who boarded her first cruise in Miami with her family. 

In that case, the baby, who was suffering from meningitis, was misdiagnosed by a medical team aboard the ship. Instead of giving her the antibacterial medication she needed, the medical team said that she had a stomach bug. The child became a triple amputee from the medical team’s error. Following litigation between courts in England and in Wales, where the family is from, Leesfield & Partners was able to obtain a multi-million dollar settlement for the family. 

In another example, the life of a Leesfield & Partners client was forever changed when they were given a blood transfusion with blood that was HIV positive and had not been pre-screened or tested. The law firm was able to secure a multi-million dollar payout in this case though the damage done by the cruise line’s lack of adequate blood testing caused damage to the client’s life that cannot be undone. 

Possible reasons for the prevalence of medical malpractice in the cruise industry are twofold. Firstly, despite advertisements flouting a ship’s medical staff and their competence, many of them are not up to par with medical standards in the United States. The second is the balancing act of doing what is right by the patient and what makes more sense fiscally for the cruise line. This can mean avoiding diverting course to get a patient to a hospital better equipped to handle a passenger’s medical emergency, which can delay a ship’s journey. More times than not, the latter is chosen resulting in needless suffering and further harm done to an ailing passenger. 

Several examples of this include a 16-year-old stroke patient whose onboard doctors vehemently maintained was having a seizure to the point where they refused to evacuate her and a family who, despite purchasing evacuation insurance lost their father on board a ship after he suffered a heart attack and doctors refused to evacuate him. In both cases, handled by Leesfield & Partners attorneys, multi-million dollar settlements were obtained. 

Lack of security aboard ships has devastating consequences

In an interview last year highlighting his career, Mr. Leesfield discussed some of the many issues involved with these holiday options and their lack of protections.  

Cruise ships are nothing but a floating city with all the problems of a city, lots of alcohol, lots of danger and no law enforcement,” he said. “We’ve worked really hard to help change the law on medical negligence aboard cruise ships.”

One such example of the absence of these security measures is the devastating rape of a Canadian woman by a cruise line’s crewmember who used his staff keycard to get into her room while she slept. The problem with unfettered access to guest’s rooms by crew members via key cards like the one used in this crime is no secret to top cruise line officials. In 2005, the industry’s leaders testified publicly that they would address the issue and had not six years later at the time of the incident. 

If you or someone you know has been injured while vacationing or working on a cruise ship, let us know. Call 800-836-6400 to talk to an attorney today. 

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