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Can a Failure to Warn Lawsuit Against Carnival Win?

Originally Published in The Goldhaber Warnings Report, February 2013

By: Gerald M. Goldhaber, Ph.D.
Tel: 212-379-6661
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This week, as my family and I prepare for a one week Caribbean cruise, the last thing on our minds is what legal recourse we may have should something go awry on our vacation. However, with the recent crippling of the Carnival Triumph which, following an engine fire, was adrift for four days with overflowiug toilets, unbearable heat and never-ending lines for food, the first two lawsuits have been flied agaiust Carnival Cruises.

Cassie Terry of Brazoria County, Texas in Miami Federal Court describing the ship as a "floating toilet, a floating petri dish, a floating hell", filed the first lawsuit. She is seeking damages, mostly for her emotional fears of contracting a disease from exposure to the raw sewage. A second suit was filed by Lisa Williams, also of Texas, who claims she was injured and bruised on the ship, was dehydrated and needed intravenous fluids. I suspect either of these (and the countless others that are sure to follow) will have a failure to adequately warn addendum claiming that the passengers were not warned about either the risks they confronted should an engine fire occur and/or were not warned about the steps they would need to take to prevent or limit their exposure to any negative consequences arising from such an event.

What are the chances that such claims in a lawsuit might be successful? Not very good, according to most attorneys familiar with maritime law. In order to be successful in such lawsuits, plaintiffs have to demonstrate major injuries and negligence. It is questionable whether either of the first two plaintiffs have met that burden. The cruise iudustry has become very adept at using tickets, which are building contracts, to limit their liability and define how a passenger can sue the cruise company. Experience has shown that these cruise tickets are the most onerous and one-sided tenns and conditions, highly favoring the cruise iudustry.

Carnival has offered each passenger on the Triumph $500 plus reimbursement for the fated cruise and any associated travel expenses and has given them a credit for a future cruise applicable to the cost they paid for the Triumph. Jim Walker, a major lawyer for cruise passengers, from the firm of Walker and O'Neill in South Miami, Florida has said that passengers would be wise to take the money ... "it's more than any attorney could get for them."

Feel free to pass this issue of the Goldhaber Warnings Report on to any friend or colleague.

Dr. Gerald M. Goldhaber, the President of Goldhaber Research Associates, LLC, is a nationally recognized expert in the fields of Political Polling and Warning Label Research. His clients include Fortune 500 companies, as well as educational and governmental organizations. He has conducted hundreds of surveys, including political polls for candidates running for U.S Congress, Senate, and President. Dr. Goldhaber also served as a consultant to President Reagan's Private Sector Survey for Cost Control.

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