Miami-based cruise ship attorney Brett Rivkind, who has been handling maritime cases for over 35 years, has three lawsuits pending involving multi-million dollar claims on behalf of cruise ship passengers, illuminating areas of potential danger for passengers.
The first case involves the sexual assault of a minor committed by adult passengers at approximately 2 a.m. in a public area of a cruise ship. The lawsuit alleges that the passengers were over-served alcohol to the point they were heavily intoxicated. The cruise ship employees permitted this and did not monitor their consumption nor their whereabouts after they left the bar. The case, L.A. vs. Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd., alleges that sexual assaults are known to occur onboard cruise ships, often involving minors, yet passengers are not warned about these dangers. Passengers who are over-served alcohol become a danger to themselves as well as to others.
The lawsuit focuses on the failure to properly warn, and the failure to provide adequate security. In addition, especially in the case of minors, the lawsuit alleges it was negligent to allow minor children to congregate in a public area of the ship at 2 a.m. without any security present. The lawsuit also alleges that the surveillance cameras that captured the incident should have been monitored, especially at 2 a.m., when it is known that drunk and mischievous passengers would be leaving bars and casinos, and other passengers would be vulnerable to criminal activity.
In another of the lawsuits filed by Brett Rivkind, who has appeared before Congress as an invited speaker to address cruise ship safety and security law, passengers were severely injured on a shore excursion purchased from the cruise ship operator Celebrity Cruises. In the case of Manlick et al v. Celebrity Cruise Lines, Inc., passengers purchased a shore excursion during their cruise aboard the Celebrity Solstice, which is operated by Royal Caribbean. During the shore excursion, the bus they were traveling in was involved in a horrible accident. The bus driver lost control and veered off the road, resulting in a violent and horrific accident that severely injured several passengers. Investigation revealed that the transportation company used for the excursion has a poor safety record and this was concealed from the passengers. Instead, as alleged in the lawsuit, the cruise ship company told the passengers that they utilized only transportation companies of the highest quality with impeccable safety records, knowing this to be untrue. The lawsuit alleges Celebrity either knew or should have known that the roads the passengers were traveling were both dangerous and treacherous. Similarly, the lawsuit alleges that the company transporting the passengers had a history of prior incidents, including a prior bus accident involving serious injuries and a leg amputation which resulted in a criminal prosecution. The lawsuit also alleges that the buses and drivers used by the excursion company were unsafe and unfit. This case is similar to a recent tragedy when passengers from a Royal Caribbean ship were involved in a horrific bus accident on their way to the Mexican Mayan ruins on a shoreside excursion purchased from the cruise ship company. The bus accident in Mexico resulted in serious injuries and multiple deaths of passengers.
The third case involved a very serious accident on a waterslide called the AquaLoop that was installed on the top deck of the cruise ship. The plaintiff was released down the looped slide, which is enclosed in a colored tube and carries passengers at speeds of greater than 30mph. As part of the mandatory safety protocol, an operator at the top of the slide must control the release of passengers into the loop and must ensure that the previous passenger has made it out of the loop to avoid a dangerous collision. The slide was unsafe because the sensors designed to detect if a passenger was stuck inside the loop were not working. The sensors are essentially a “green light/ red light” system with a green light indicating that it is safe to release the next passenger. The system malfunctioned and the plaintiff in this case was released into the slide not knowing that another passenger was trapped inside. The plaintiff was severely injured in the subsequent collision. Investigation revealed that this was not the first accident on the newly installed AquaLoop, yet the cruise company continued operating the slide knowingly risking the safety of its passengers. The lawsuit seeks more than 5 million dollars, and alleges punitive damages should be imposed for continuing to operate the waterslide without rectifying the safety hazards despite multiple incidents involving the same equipment.