Judge Sanctions Carnival Cruise Lines and Determines Notice of a Dangerous Condition Established Under Fed. R. Civ. P. 37

Earlier last week our Cruise Ship Lawyers sought and received a court order under Fed. R. Civ. P. 37 (b) in the  form of issue based sanctions against Defendant Carnival Cruise Lines in a lawsuit brought by Mrs. Esperanza Viletta in the case of Viletta v. Carnival Cruise Lines, Case No. 11-20930. The sanctions were ordered by United States Magistrate Judge John O’Sullivan and were upheld by United States District Court Judge Cecilia Altonaga in a six (6) page written order. Click this link to read the Order. The sanctions were issued based on a myriad of discovery violations including express denials by Defendant Carnival concerning the failure to disclose and otherwise hide the existence of certain documents, reports, and based on record testimony by Carnival’s Corporate Representative in deposition. In her order, Judge Altonaga held that the sanctions entered were warranted and over Carnivals objections, were not contrary to the law despite their severity and should “deter” Carnival and p0tentially others from similar conduct in the future.

In the October 30, 2014 order, the court determined the appropriate sanctions were a determination that as a matter of law that 1.)Notice of a dangerous condition and the existence of a dangerous condition was established prior to trial and 2.) Defendant’s affirmative defense as to lack of notice was stricken.  Junior Partner, Nicholas I. Gerson, of the Miami personal injury law offices of Gerson and Schwartz, PA served as lead counsel and argued the matter in the United States District  Court for the Southern District of Florida. At an October 28, 2014 hearing, Gerson argued that the type of sanctions were necessary in order to cure the prejudice against his client and that absent such relief would only benefit Carnival and would ultimately reward Carnival for hiding important evidence. The Court agreed.

At issue was Carnival’s express denial that it had not made any changes to the yellow tile floor surfaces in the Lido market place restaurant on the Carnival Breeze. Despite their denials,  Carnival had in fact applied a slip resistant coating to the market place floor surfaces on the vessel and had even conducted tests to check the floors for slip resistance before the application. The existence of reports and Carnivals’ findings of  test results were also repeatedly denied by Carnival throughout the lawsuit. Yet as it turned out the floor surfaces were changed and documented proof of the testing performed confirmed the floors fell  below the standard of care for slip resistance and were dangerous as alleged by the Plaintiff. The reference to reports were buried in several emails that were produced and after numerous hearings where Carnival took the position that no documents existed. The reports were eventually ordered to be produced by the Court and when they were disclosed the reports showed Carnival was aware about the dangers of the floor surfaces prior to Ms. Viletta’s incident and were even specific to the area where Ms. Viletta had fallen. The Miami personal injury lawyers  of Gerson and Schwartz represent  injury victims on land and sea. If you or a loved one are in need of  aggressive legal representation contact the Miami Florida personal injury attorneys at Gerson and Schwartz, PA at 1-877-475-2905 , or visit www.injuryattorneyfla.com. All cases are handled on a contingent fee.

 

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