Cruise ships off the coast of Florida (and elsewhere) have a well-documented, long-running problem with sexual assaults on board, according to U.S. government data that spurred an NBC News investigation last year. Of the 92 alleged on-board crimes reported by cruise lines in 2016, a total of 62 were sexual assaults. When these occur at sea, it can be difficult to pursue criminal prosecution, and in fact, most sexual assault cases did not result in an arrest and/ or conviction. Further (and even more disturbing) many of those on-board sexual assaults involved minors.
One of the only avenues claimants may have to seek justice is civil litigation. Of course, a perpetrator can be held directly liable for damages resulting from a sexual assault, including medical expense treatment, therapy costs, pain and suffering and more. However, civil litigation can also hold the cruise line to account for negligence in the failure to protect against a foreseeable third-party criminal assault. Our Fort Lauderdale tourist injury lawyers know this can involve lack of adequate security, negligence in over-serving alcohol to patrons or failure to properly screen potentially dangerous employees. Because these incidents occurred at sea, they must be tried in a federal court and maritime law is applicable.
One such case is recently proceeding to trial, after the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida denied a motion by defendant Royal Caribbean Cruises to dismiss a complaint alleging negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress stemming from the alleged sexual assault of a 13-year-old boy aboard one of its ships. Plaintiff is seeking both actual and punitive damages on both counts. Continue reading