As we watched the stricken Carnival Cruise ship tugged to shore this week, and heard stories of sewage spilled into rooms and halls, we couldn’t help but think of what lawsuits might come about from this disaster.
According to an article on CNN.com, Carnival’s ticket contract says that the cruise line is not “liable to the passenger for damages for emotional distress, mental suffering/anguish or psychological injury of any kind under any circumstances, except when such damages were caused by the negligence of Carnival and resulted from the same passenger sustaining actual physical injury, or having been at risk of actual physical injury.”
But while no physical injuries have been reported, if a passenger contracted a disease, like hepatitis, from the unsanitary conditions on the ship, it is possible that they could have an argument for physical injury.
In the article, CNN interviewed a maritime trial attorney who said that a case could be made that everyone on the ship was at risk of actual physical injury. He believes that they could file a suit and could possibly win. The circumstances of sewage on the decks of the ship are exceptional enough that a class action suit could be possible, even though Carnival’s contract prohibits one.
Another article on CNN reported that the first lawsuit had been filed on Friday, with the passenger who filed the lawsuit describing the ship as “A floating toilet, a floating Petri dish, a floating hell.” So far, Carnival said it would give each passenger $500, a free flight home, a full refund for their trip and for most expenses on board, as well as a credit for another cruise. A legal analyst for CNN said these offerings by Carnival are likely to be a starting point for negotiations. He also said that most litigation would not go to trial.
We’ll continue to monitor this situation.