Carnival Cruise Ordered To Pay $10M To Passenger After Sexual Assault
Carnival Cruise line was hit with a $10 million verdict in a sexual assault lawsuit filed by a former passenger. The passenger claimed that she was inebriated on her last day of the cruise when she was wandering back to the pool area. She tripped and fell and was later approached by a crew member. At this point, the last thing she remembers is being forced into a storage closet and prevented from leaving. She alleged that she was sexually assaulted in the storage closet. Carnival maintained throughout the trial that the sex was consensual. They have indicated they plan to appeal the verdict, but on what basis remains unclear.
Sexual assaults aboard cruise ships are not uncommon. Given the clouded jurisdictional issues, holding a sexual predator accountable can be difficult. Americans who commit sexual assaults aboard cruise ships or abroad can still be held criminally responsible by the American courts. When the matter involves a foreign national, however, it can be much more difficult to hold the individual accountable.
In this case, Carnival fired the worker on the grounds that there is a zero-tolerance policy for fraternizing with the guests. The worker has since disappeared. They are unlikely to be held responsible by their home country since Carnival has chosen to present a unified defense in suit. In other words, they chose to defend the worker from the allegations.
On what basis will Carnival appeal the ruling?
That’s a good question and it remains unclear. In terms of an appeal, you can’t exactly appeal the jury’s finding that you are at fault for a lawsuit. You can only appeal procedural errors that occurred during the trial that would have unfairly swayed the jury toward that conclusion. If any evidence had been dismissed from the suit, then Carnival can appeal that the evidence should not have been discluded. If Carnival wanted to present evidence they were prevented from presenting, then they can appeal the judge’s decision to disclude that evidence. They cannot, however, say that the jury reached the wrong conclusion and ask the court to throw out the verdict.
How do cruise ship sexual assaults occur?
Cruise ship sexual assaults generally occur because sexual predators feel emboldened to act where they have no social connections and the legal jurisdictional matters make pursuing a prosecution difficult. In this case, the worker is unlikely to ever face charges for this sexual assault. On the other hand, Carnival is directly liable for the conduct of their workers. Nonetheless, the jury found cause to dismiss two claims of negligence against Carnival including allegations that Carnival was directly negligent for failing to supervise or conduct background checks on employees. A secondary claim related to the intentional infliction of emotional distress was also dismissed by the jury.
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Miami admiralty & maritime lawyer Michael F. Guilford files personal injury lawsuits on behalf of those who are injured aboard cruise ships. Call today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.