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A federal appeals court has reversed a lower court and reinstated litigation filed by the mother of a 3-year-old girl who suffered head injuries after she either fell over or through a cruise ship’s guardrail.
“W.A.”’s mother filed suit against Carnival Corp., the cruise ship line, for negligent creation and maintenance of the guardrail and failure to warn of the danger posed by the guardrail in connection with the 2016 accident, but her case was dismissed by the U.S. District Court in Miami, according to Tuesday’s ruling by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta in Elizabeth Amy v. Carnival Corp.
The unanimous appeals court panel’s ruling pointed to testimony including that of Carnival’s corporate representative, its director of shipbuilding, and a plaintiff expert witness in reinstating the charges.
The district court “failed to view the evidence in a light most favorable to Amy” and to “draw reasonable factual inferences in her favor” in ruling that Carnival did not have notice of the guardrail’s alleged risk-creating conditions, said the ruling.
“A reasonable jury could understand” the corporate representative’s testimony to show Carnival knew of the dangers of climbable rails as well as the existence of a 4-inch safety standard for open spaces between barriers and guardrails, said the ruling.
Other evidence in the case as well as testimony “together fueled a dispute of fact as to whether Carnival should have known of the guardrail’s alleged risk-creating conditions,” said the ruling.
Moreover, as the plaintiff’s expert noted, “Carnival in fact already utilized railing configurations” on its ships in its fleet that complied with safety recommendations, said the ruling, in reinstating the litigation.
Plaintiff attorney Michael D. Eriksen, of the Eriksen Law Firm in West Palm Beach, Florida, said the girl was still recovering from her injuries. “We really are gratified by the decision,” he said.
Mr. Eriksen said he hopes the case will move toward trial and that “the cruise industry as a whole” will be encouraged to keep guardrail safety measures in mind when they construct and refurbish their vessels in the future.
A Carnival attorney had no comment.
Pandemic-related putative securities class-action lawsuits were filed in May by shareholders against Carnival Corp. as well as a biopharmaceutical company that allegedly falsely promised a vaccine.
U.S.-based cruise firm Uniworld River Cruises Inc. has filed a more than €11.5 million ($12.7 million) lawsuit against MSC Cruise Management (U.K.) Ltd. for damages incurred when MSC's 66,000-ton vessel in June hit one of Uniworld cruise ships in Venice, The Maritime Executive reported. Ellen Bettridge, chief executive of Uniworld, said, "Aside from the severe damage to our ship, we were forced to cancel 14 voyages."