Virginia Walton comes from a small town in Nicaragua called Bluefields. Bluefields only has a population of about 44,373. It is known as the oldest coastal city in Nicaragua and is still one of the most important port towns. The town is geographically remote from main cities and can only be reached either by flying in from Managua the capital or by bus from Managua to El Rama then a two hour boat ride to Bluefields.
Virginia, a mother of three children left her children and her home in order to provide a better life for her family. She, as many citizens of third world countries, came to the United States to work aboard a major cruise ship company, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. She proved to be a hard working, trustworthy and loyal employee, and was quickly promoted to a cabin attendant job aboard the cruise ship. Although a cabin attendant job does not seem like much, it was a great honor for Virginia to receive this promotion because it enabled her to work in a position were she received gratuities from the passengers, allowing to her make extra money to provide for her family. Her goals were to stay with the cruise line company for many years, and work her way out of poverty.
Under the Maritime Law, if a crewmember gets injured or becomes ill, the cruise line has the obligation to provide prompt, proper and adequate medical care and treatment to the crewmember. While working onboard the cruise ship, Virginia developed a knee problem that required medical attention. When she first went to the medical doctor onboard the cruise ship, she was sent to see a physician in Mexico. Unfortunately, since the cruise ship was only in the port for a short period of time, there was no continuity of medical treatment with this doctor. As a result, Virginia was returned to her strenuous job activities without appropriate diagnosis, and without appropriate treatment. Virginia continued doing her best, as she always did. She worked very hard, seven days a week, more than ten hours per day.
Due to the strenuous work activities, her knee pain got worse. The cruise line then decided to send her to Managua, Nicaragua to receive her medical care and treatment. While she was in Managua she received medical treatment from an orthopedic surgeon there who the cruise line company regularly use to treat their crewmembers. The doctor in Managua told Virginia she needed to have surgery to for her knee, and Virginia believed in the doctor and agreed to have the surgery the doctor recommended. However, Virginia did not get better after the surgery. She got worse. The doctor then told her she needed a total knee replacement, which Virginia agreed to based on the doctor’s recommendation.
Unfortunately, the cruise line did not fulfill its obligation to provide prompt, proper and adequate medical care and treatment, and oversee the medical care and treatment of their hard working and loyal employee. As a result, Virginia, never received a second opinion, nor was she offered to receive her medical care in the United States with a qualified orthopedic surgeon the cruise line company could have sent her to. Instead she received her treatment in Managua from the orthopedic doctor the cruise line chose to have her treated by.
As a result, Virginia received, what was argued at trial, an improper arthroscopic surgery, and an unnecessary knee replacement. This could have been avoided had she been provided medical care and treatment in the United States by a competent orthopedic surgeon. An expert orthopedic surgeon testified at trial that the arthroscopic surgery was performed improperly, which made Virginia’s condition get worse. He also testified that there were no medical indications to perform a total knee replacement on Virginia.
Instead of providing adequate compensation to Virginia as a result of her tragedy, the cruise line denied her claims and asserted that she was not telling the truth about how she was injured. The cruise line also denied that there was any improper medical care and treatment. Faced with a denial of any responsibility, as well as the assertions that Virginia was not telling the truth, Virginia had no choice but to move forward and fight the large cruise line company in Court.
Virginia was very scared because she could not imagine how someone like her, from a small village in Bluefields, Nicaragua, could receive justice in a Miami courtroom against a major cruise line company like Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. She was fighting. She was worried that she would not receive justice, and that she would be back to living in Bluefields, Nicaragua at the poverty level she tried to escape from. Only this time, she would have to do so severely disabled.
Virginia placed her faith in GOD, our personal injury law firm and the justice system here in the United States. After a trial of eight days, the jury deliberated for several hours and decided that Virginia was a truthful person and deserving of compensation for what occurred to her. The jury awarded a total amount of damages of 2.93 Million Dollars.