A Holland America crew member who attacked a passenger – attempting to rape and kill the female passenger – may face a tougher punishment than first thought.
Because the crimes were ‘so extreme’ and had ‘devastating effects’ on the passenger, a push will be made for tougher sentencing to match the severity of the assault.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Catherine Koontz has suggested a punishment of between 24 and 30.5 years in prison. Current sentencing guidelines suggest sentencing of 14 to 17.5 years.
As cruise ship injury lawyers who have been representing injured passengers and crew for over 25 years, the staff at Waks and Barnett, P.A. keep up to date with industry news and information as it may impact the cases of our clients.
Recent news shows that Celebrity Cruise Lines is building 2 new ships, though these ships will be ‘smaller’ vessels (at least smaller in size compared to some of the behemoths that sails the world’s oceans).
It reminds us though of some thoughts we had regarding the increasing size of cruise ships and how that increasing size might impact the safety of both passengers and crew.
Coast Guard picks up passenger
Over the weekend, a passenger who was experiencing ‘heart attack like’ symptoms was air lifted from the Royal Caribbean cruise ship, Vision of the Seas, while in Tampa Bay, Florida.
According to local TV reports, a crew member of the vessel contacted the Coast Guard explaining the medical emergency. The Coast Guard recommended taking the passenger from the ship to a local hospital. A Coast Guard response boat transported the injured passenger to St. Petersburg.
With new changes to the laws surrounding a cruise ship passenger’s ability to sue the cruise lines for medical negligence and malpractice, cruise lines may become more careful about how they identify and respond to medical emergencies, including quicker reaction times to potential emergency situations.
A common question we’re asked – does your law firm handle cruise ship ‘slip and fall’ cases?
Yes. In fact, the majority of cases that we handle for injured clients can be considered ‘slip and fall’ cases, for example:
- falls in cruise ship restaurants, bars and lounge areas
- falls in passenger cabins, bathrooms and showers
- falls on stairwells and hallways
- falls by the pools, hot tubs and other water features
It’s important to know that if your injury was due to the negligence or fault of the cruise ship or its employees, you can file an injury claim and potentially be compensated for the pain and suffering of your injury as well as medical bills and missed time at work.
The question we’ll ask are:
- why did the injury occur?
- whose fault was it – yours or the cruise line’s?
- could the fall have been prevented?
Yes, our attorneys handle slip and fall cases against cruise lines – and we’ve representing passengers against the cruise lines for more than 25 years (and hundreds upon hundreds of cases).
Over the weekend at the Port of Ft. Lauderdale, the Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas turned back to port two separate times for what was likely related to medical emergencies aboard the cruise ship.
Passenger injury, certainly serious enough to have the boat turned around before heading out to sea, was likely the cause (no official report has been seen).
Generally though, it is a medical issue, emergency or severe injury that would hasten a return to port.
This news first broke when PTZtv which operates the web cam for the port area tweeted news and images of the return.
More coverage and opinion regarding Franza v. Royal Caribbean, this time in Workboat.com. Read the article here.
Waks and Barnett, P.A. was instrumental in pushing this case toward the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of its client. The resulting decision, allowing victims of medical malpractice and negligence by the medical staff of cruise ships, is considered a ‘major victory’ for passengers.
Another Norovirus outbreak – this time on the Crown Princess – has the cruise industry scratching its collective head.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 158 of 3,009 passengers (5.25%) reported being sick. The majority of the cases, 145, took place in the last 15 days of the voyage. A smaller percentage of crew members, 14 of 1,160, were ill.
Per CruiseCritic.com, “In response to the outbreak, CDC health officials boarded the ship in San Pedro today to conduct an environmental health assessment and evaluate the line’s sanitation process. As all cruise ships do when norovirus is discovered onboard, Princess ordered enhanced cleaning and disinfection of the ship and had infected passengers disembark separately to prevent spread of the disease.”
A significant decision favors injured cruise ship passengers
In what can be considered a ‘major victory’ for cruise ship passengers, a new ruling now allows those passengers, who were victims of medical malpractice by the doctors and medical staff of the cruise line, to sue the cruise lines and its owners.
Why is this significant?
Before this ruling, cruise lines were essentially immune to medical malpractice lawsuits.
That immunity stems from a 1988 ruling called the ‘Barbetta Rule that held that shipowners had no liability, “no matter how clear the shipowner’s control over its medical staff or how egregious the claimed acts of negligence.”
New Federal Appellate Court Decision Allows for Medical Malpractice Claims Against Cruise Lines
In an opinion published Nov. 10, 2014 in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, cruise lines can now be held vicariously liable when the negligence of the ship’s doctors, nurses and other medical staff, causes harm to their passengers.
For over 25 years, however, this was not the case as cruise lines and their owners were protected from medical malpractice claims by the prevailing law, referred to as the ‘Barbetta rule’ (Barbetta v. S/S Bermuda Star).
Under the old law, cruise lines had broad immunity “no matter how clear the shipowner’s control over its medical staff or how egregious the claimed acts of negligence.”
The staff at Waks and Barnett, P.A. want to wish all those who have served a heartfelt thank you. Enjoy your day!
For those wanting to know more about Veteran’s Day and its history, this is an interesting article from the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs.
Read the article here.
Waks and Barnett, P.A. provides legal services and representation for passengers and crew members who have been injured while vacationing or working on a cruise ship. Our office is located in Miami, FL.