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Florida cruise companies should learn from Carnival Cruise case

Many horror stories about ocean voyages include being marooned on an island. But recently for a group of passengers, they were stranded on their own cruise ship. While being stuck in a cruise ship may not seem distressing for the passengers,- they claimed they were subjected to disdainful conditions-a very traumatic ordeal.

Thirty-three passengers filed a lawsuit in a South Florida court claiming they suffered mental anguish and health issues due to hazardous conditions on a Carnival cruise voyage in February last year. The plaintiffs asked for a $5,000 monthly lifetime payment for damages. The scheduled four-day cruise started at Galveston, Texas and came to an abrupt stop in the Gulf of Mexico when an engine room fire caused the ship to stall for five days. The cruise ship was left without working toilets, engine power or air conditioning.

Passengers endured sleeping on the deck using makeshift tarps, eating uncooked food, and traversing hallways seeping with human waste. One plaintiff related that besides suffering anxiety and panic attacks after the ordeal, she was also left with a urinary tract infection.

A Carnival Corp statement admitted that passengers experienced uncomfortable conditions. However, they stated that everyone arrived safely. They were also fully refunded, given a free cruise and were offered $500. Carnival Corp has shielded itself from passenger or class-action lawsuits by printing stringently worded terms on its tickets which can also serve as a waiver. Nonetheless, a federal judge ruled that the engine fire was proof that the cruise line was negligent.

A property-residence, establishment or any other particular area-should be well-maintained to avoid accidents and injuries. A Tampa Bay resident injured because of negligent conditions like inadequate security, wet floors, inadequate lighting and other dangerous conditions can hold a property owner liable.

Source: Reuters, "Carnival cruise passengers sue seeking $5,000 a month for life," Mar. 10, 2014

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