Yesterday I reported on a settlement which a passenger from Texas reached after she was seriously injured while trying to step off a tender boat onto the dock in Grand Cayman. The case illustrates the liability of cruise lines when they fail to safely transfer their passengers from the cruise ship to shore during ports of call.
The passenger was seriously injured and underwent surgery with the insertion of plates and screw. This type of injury is painful, the surgery and recovery are painful, and the medical expenses are substantial. After fling suit, the Carnival passenger reached a $125,000 settlement with Carnival cruise line.
The settlement was picked up by a local news station, CBS News 4 in Miami, and then I blogged about it, and then it was discussed by the very popular USA Today cruise blog called "CruiseLog" this morning, and by the afternoon a news station Cayman 27 in Grand Cayman was reporting about the settlement.
The CruiseLog readers, who are usually conservative, pro-cruise and anti-lawuit minded, concluded that the settlement was too much, which is strange because it seems to be a rather modest settlement. But the interesting thing is that such a modest settlement received so much attention – from a local news station in Miami – to a national newspaper – to a news station in the Caribbean.
Settlements like this are usually confidential because the cruise lines require secrecy. Cruise lines hate publicity like this. It is inconsistent with the image cruise lines try and project, and the cruise lines think that it encourages others to file suit. But the truth is that cruise lines like Carnival make billions upon billions of dollars each year and pay no taxes by incorporating in foreign countries like Panama and flying foreign flags on their cruise ships. Carnival also has literally billions of dollars in insurance.
Anytime a passenger falls between a tender boat and a dock, it is going to be a case of liability. Cruise lines have a duty of "high care" for getting passengers, particularly elderly passengers, safely to shore. So a settlement like this is almost a certainty.
Although this case has received alot of interest in the media, a $125,000 settlement is pocket change for a corporation like Carnival when it lets a passenger fall between a tender and a dock.
Video credit: Cayman 27 News