Thousands of Carnival Cruise passengers were stranded on Carnival’s Triumph ship for five days from February 10th to the early morning of February 15th. The ship embarked on a voyage from Galveston, Texas to Mexico on Friday the 8th but the trip was interrupted on Sunday the 10th when a fire in the engine room erupted.
There are stories of human waste dripping on the walls, drunken fighting, and tent cities. Cassie Terry, a passenger, requested her lawyers file a lawsuit before she even got off the ship! There were thousands of passengers on this ship that must have faced similar circumstances.
The numerous lawsuits that will undoubtedly come from this debacle will spark a debate about Maritime Law. My first opinion of whether these lawsuits will be successful is based on the following ‘assumed’ facts.
Carnival is based in England of the United Kingdom, per a merger with P&O Princess Cruises in 2002 where the executives agreed to keep the public company listed as a primarily London based corporation.
All passengers signed a clause when purchasing or using their tickets that released all various liabilities and rights of the passengers. United States Maritime Law will govern whatever cause of action the passengers may have.
Maritime Law has a laissez-faire attitude when it comes to most offenses and specifically, when it comes to business transactions such as the one the passengers engaged in with Carnival Cruise Lines.
The causes of action Cassie Terry’s lawyers used are breach of maritime contract, negligence, negligent misrepresentation, and fraud. I believe the breach of contract will not be sufficient because of the rights she probably signed away when purchasing\using the cruise tickets. The negligent misrepresentation and fraud causes of action seem like punitive add-ons to the negligence cause of action.
The negligent cause of action is the only one worthy of standing trial. The main question to be answered will be whether Carnival Cruise Lines, specifically the crew on Carnival Triumph, did everything in their power to limit the suffering and inconvenience of the passengers onboard.