On June 10th, a senior Federal District Court Judge in Miami rejected an attempt by a Miami-based cruise line to limit its potential liability at no more than $65,000 for alleged damages suffered by a minor raped on a cruise ship.
The case arose out of a shipboard rape of a girl alleged against Oceania Cruises. According to the lawsuit papers, an Oceania Cruises crewmember sexually assaulted and raped a 13 year old girl during a cruise aboard the Regatta cruise ship in October 2009.
Oceania Cruises filed a motion seeking to assert, as an affirmative defense, the terms and conditions of the "Athens Convention Relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea." This is an international treaty which applies when a cruise ship does not call on a U.S. port. It is commonly referred to as the "Athens Convention." The Athens Convention limits a cruise lines liability for injuries and deaths to 46,666 Special Drawing Right (SDR’s) which is an international currency which has a conversion rate today of around U.S. $65,000.
Most cruise passengers are unaware that if they or a loved one are seriously injured or killed, the cruise lines will try to enforce the Athens Convention damage limitation which is incorporated in all cruise tickets.
However, the Athens Convention does not apply when the cruise line or crewmembers act intentionally or recklessly. The Act states that the cruise line can’t benefit from the limitation ". . . if it is proved that the damage resulted from an act or omission of the carrier done with the intent to cause such damage, or recklessly and with knowledge that such damages would probably result."
Addressing this plain language, Senior Judge James Lawrence King ruled that the Athens Convention does not apply for "intentional torts." Because the minor’s claims for sexual assault and rape (as well as false imprisonment) are "intentional torts," the limits of liability contained in the Athens Convention do not apply.
The attorney for the child is Jason Margulies. The defense lawyer for Oceania Cruises is William Clair of Hill Betts & Nash.
This case should be an eye opener for most cruisers. Yes, there are many cruises where crewmembers rape children. Take a moment and read:
Cruise lines like Oceania Cruises will do everything they can to avoid paying reasonable compensation when rapes occur, even when their ship employees rape the children of their guests.
Photo credit: CruiseLineFans.com