Yesterday a federal judge in Miami rejected a motion filed by Carnival Corporation seeking to dismiss a lawsuit filed on behalf of young girl who was sexually assaulted on a Carnival cruise ship.
The case involved a nine year old girl who was raped on Carnival’s Destiny cruise ship. The case is a reminder that sexual assaults against children occur during cruises, even when the children are entrusted to youth counselors on cruise ships. The case also shows how far cruise lines like Carnival will go to avoid legal responsibility when crimes occur during cruises.
The allegations against Carnival in this case were described as follows:
At the age of nine, the child took a cruise aboard Carnival’s Destiny cruise ship. She was accompanied on this cruise by several family members. During the cruise, and at a Carnival employee’s encouragement, the child’s father signed her into a shipboard children’s program (“Camp Carnival”). The father told Camp Carnival personnel that his daughter was to stay with them until he returned for her. However, when the little girl asked for permission from the Camp Carnival staff member to attend a teen party with her cousin and friends, the staff member permitted her to go. After leaving Camp Carnival, the girl was physically and sexually assaulted.
The lawsuit alleges negligence on Carnival’s part in the false advertising of Camp Carnival, the failure to implement appropriate safety precautions, and the refusal to warn the child’s parents of the numerous sexual assaults of passengers, including minors, during cruises.
The mother hired a lawyer in Florida and filed a lawsuit within three years of the rape.
Under federal maritime law, lawsuits involving minors must be filed within three years after the injury, or within one year from the date a legal representative is appointed for the minor (whichever date is shorter).
Even though the lawsuit was timely filed both within three years of the rape and within one year since the mother was appointed as the child’s legal guardian, Carnival moved to dismiss the case as "untimely." Carnival made a technical argument that the one year limitations period began to run when the mother learned of the crime or, alternatively, within one year after the mother retained a lawyer and the attorney sent a claim letter to Carnival.
The Court rejected Carnival’s argument and permitted the case to continue.
The child is represented by David Brill who is a skilled trial lawyer who represents crew members and passengers against cruise lines.
The motion to dismiss the child’s case was filed by defense lawyer Lauren DeFabio of the Mase, Lara law firm.
Photo credit: Maxum255 / Wikipedia