Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Royal Caribbean
Written by MaritimeHelp on 2 Mar 2016
When people buy tickets for a cruise, anything other than relaxation is the furthest thing from their minds. They expect a week or so of sitting out in the sun, enjoying cocktails and having incredible meals by renowned chefs. This is especially true when you get aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. The company is known all over the world for treating guests to a once-in-a-lifetime event while sailing through the ocean.
A Storm Turns the Cruise into a Nightmare
Unfortunately, that’s not what happened recently when a major storm in the Atlantic Ocean battered and punished a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. That’s why one of the passengers who was aboard that ship has filed a class-action lawsuit against the company in federal court. The suit was filed in New Jersey.
Frank DeLuca, the man who is bringing the lawsuit against Royal Caribbean is a resident of Cinnamonson. He is alleging that Royal Caribbean “knew or should have known” about warnings that the Atlantic Ocean was going to experience hurricane-level winds prior to the Anthem of the Seas setting sail from Bayonne on February 6th.
As part of his lawsuit, DeLuca included forecasts put out by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Ocean Prediction Center. Amongst other things, the forecasts note that there was the distinct possibility of hurricane-force winds occurring along the coast close to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. The forecasts also predicted that these winds would occur about a half hour before the Anthem of the Seas was meant to leave for its cruise.
“We Have to Be Ready in Case Something Crazy Happens”
When the boat ran afoul of these winds, the lawsuit states that passengers needed to grab onto their beds and other fixtures “to keep from falling due to the severe crashing of waves and listing of the vessel.” These winds—and the need to be vigilant—allegedly went on for roughly 12 hours straight. Furniture was overturned, elevators became inoperable and water even gushed into numerous areas of the cruise ship. Broken glass covered the ship everywhere.
“We could feel the ship going on top of the waves and crashing back down. Every time, we’d get knocked a little off to the side. You could feel everything just jolt and slide,” Keith Hollender of Farmingdale, said of the trip. “We had packed our bags in case there was an emergency. We just thought, ‘We have to be ready in case something crazy happens because this is really bad.”
The damage was so bad from the storm that part of the boat’s propulsion system was actually impaired from the storm. In fact, the damage was so bad that Royal Caribbean made the decision to cancel the rest of the trip. As soon as the storm was over, the boat immediately returned back to New Jersey.
DeLuca’s lawsuit is accusing Royal Caribbean of gross negligence. Any passenger who was aboard the ship can elect to be represented by it in court. The suit also seeks punitive damages to cover guests’ emotional and psychological stresses they had to endure during the storm.
Most Likely to End in Settlement?
Despite the terrifying details of the short trip, Larry Brennan, an adjunct law professor at Fordham University, says that cruise lines often have a number of defenses for these types of lawsuits that passengers often file.
“The recent filing of civil litigation by a passenger is unlikely to be the harbinger of many lawsuits unless there are compensable claims for actual bodily injury or damage to luggage or personal property,” says Brennan, who is also an expert in maritime law. “As in the case of the vast majority of civil litigation, settlement may be the parties’ preferred route.”
For their part, Royal Caribbean isn’t commenting on the lawsuits. Cynthia Martinez, a spokeswoman for the company said via email that the company doesn’t comment on pending litigation.