Articles Tagged with “Liberty of the Seas”

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We recently reported on two incidents occurring only days apart where cruise passengers had fallen and died as a result of their injuries.

catacombsl-005005706019.jpgThe first incident saw the death of Barbara Wood on the Liberty of the Seas, owned and operated Royal Caribbean Cruises. The investigators and witnesses to the tragedy told the media that Barbara Wood was leaving the ship’s nightclub, Catacombs, when she fell while going down the club’s stairs. She hit her head on one of the steps and sustained a massive head injury, resulting in her death about an hour later.

Less than 48 hours later, Carnival cruise passenger, Walter Bouknight, fell down two floors after falling off a platform in the atrium of the Carnival Fantasy. Passengers who witnessed the events have since reported that alcohol may have been in play. The young man may have been gambling in the ship’s casino a few moments prior to his fall and may have been drinking to the point of intoxication.

In both instances, alcohol consumption and intoxication may have been the main contributing factor to explain these incidents. If there is evidence that these passengers had consumed alcohol prior to their fall, and that the amount of alcohol in their system rendered them intoxicated, Carnival Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean Cruises respectively could face a lawsuit for having over-served alcohol to these passengers.

Cruise Lines can be held liable for over-serving alcohol to cruise passengers
Florida’s Third District Court of Appeals decided in a landmark case in 2004, that cruise lines can be held liable for over-serving their passengers to the point of intoxication if they sustain injuries caused by their alcohol-related impairment. In Hall v. Royal Caribbean Cruises, Judge Schwartz reversed the lower court’s decision ruling that the defendant cruise line has an established duty to exercise reasonable care for the safety of its passengers, a duty couched in general maritime law.

Royal Caribbean had argued that the Court of Appeal should look to Florida’s dram shop act as the governing law to resolve that case and not general maritime principles. Had the Third District Court of Appeal agreed with Royal, it would have severely limited the cruise lines’ liability in future similar cases.

cruisedrinks.jpgThe Florida’s Dram Shop Act enacted as Statute 768.125 provides that [a] person who furnishes alcoholic beverages to a person of lawful drinking age shall not become liable for injury or damage caused by or resulting from the intoxication of such person. The exceptions to Florida’s Dram Shop Act are when a Florida business willfully and unlawfully sells or furnishes alcoholic beverages to a person who is not of lawful drinking age or when it knowingly serves a person habitually addicted to the use of any or all alcoholic beverages.

Consequently, since the Hall decision, cruise passengers have able to bring lawsuits against cruise lines for not only over-serving and essentially intoxicating them while on the ship, but also for intoxicating other passengers who may have become violent towards them as a result of having been served too much alcohol.
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In the early morning hours of the day on Monday, Barbara Wood, a 47-year-old cruise passenger from Middleborough, Massachusetts, hit her head while falling down the stairs aboard the Liberty of the Seas, Royal Caribbean Cruises.

Clip_s2.jpgThe investigation is still ongoing at this time, but some details have already come to light. Mrs. Wood was on a five day cruise which stopped in Cozumel, Mexico and was to end at Port Everglades on Monday morning. Some passengers reported hearing an alert made over the ship’s speakers between 1 and 2 a.m., when the incident occurred.

At that time, Barbara Wood left the ship’s Catacombs nightclub and was allegedly on her way to her cabin. On her way, she slipped on a step while going down the stairs and in her tumble, she hit her head. She was taken to the onboard infirmary when she was pronounced dead about one hour later, before the ship could reach the port according to the cruise line’s spokesman.

Clip.jpgit is unclear at this time what caused the woman to fall to her death. An autopsy will be performed within the next 48 hours to determine the exact cause of death. The autopsy will also help ascertain whether alcohol played a role in the fatal incident or whether investigators should look into the stairs in question as a possible reason for the cruise passenger to slip.

One of the passengers who witnessed the incident, Missy Whitlock, told the media that “[s]he fell down the steps. There was a lot of blood.”

This is the second cruise passenger in as many days that has fallen and died while on a cruise ship. This morning we reported that a cruise passenger fell off a platform located in the atrium of the Carnival Fantasy.
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