Yesterday, I boarded Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas cruise ship at the Port of Miami for what maritime lawyers call a “vessel inspection.” I boarded the cruise ship with my co-counsel on the case, Jonathan Aronson, and a top engineering expert.
Our client, a passenger, had been seriously injured when she fell on a wet deck around the FlowRider water attraction on the cruise ship. Shortly before we boarded the ship for the inspection, Royal Caribbean finally provided us, only after a Court order was entered, with one video clip taken from an aft / starboard closed circuit television (CCTV) camera. But it didn’t show what happened to our client. The cruise line claimed that there were no videos of our client’s “alleged” accident as they put it.
When we boarded the cruise ship yesterday, we immediately realized that the camera of the video they provided us was not pointed at the accident scene and, in any event, the video was taken over three hours after our client’s accident occurred. We also realized that there were a dozen video cameras and CCTV cameras pointing to the FlowRider and the surrounding decks, including the area where our client’s accident occurred. None of these videos have been produced.
Cruise lines control the scene of the accident and access to witnesses. Passengers who are injured on cruise ships should not inspect cooperation from the cruise line. Our client promptly reported her accident and was taken from the scene because she was seriously injured. If the cruise line’s security officers wanted to document what happened, they would have looked at the dozen cameras and quickly determined which cameras captured the accident and preserved the video.
Instead, we now have a game of hide and seek. Cruise lines have a reputation of keeping evidence only when it tends to help the ship’s legal interests and destroying evidence which supports the passenger’s claim.
Passengers who are injured on cruise ships need to document the location of CCTV cameras (they are usually numbered) and request that the cruise ship retain the evidence.
Otherwise they may find that after they make a claim, there is no evidence left and the cruise line will deny that the accident even occcurred.