Articles Posted in Negligent Security

Crime on cruise ships is not a new phenomenon, regrettably. Many voyages were ruined by unexplained deaths, overboard passengers, sexual assault, battery, and theft suffered by passengers on the world’s most popular cruise lines. Committing a crime while on vacation seems utterly irrational, but it happens. Cruise lines owe passengers a duty of care to protect their passengers from harm. Therefore, cruise lines may be held accountable to you if you are the victim of a crime while onboard. Florida cruise ship attorneys will provide you with zealous representation if you are the victim of a crime while on a cruise ship.

Until very recently, crime statistics for crimes that occur on a cruise ship were inconsistently reported.  While the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) maintains crime statistics, cruise lines compiled their own statistics. These compilations rarely, if ever, agreed with one another. Often, the FBI would report individual numbers while the cruise lines would report something wildly different. The public did not have access to the crime statistics, which compounded matters. Obviously, cruise lines have a vested interest in under reporting the numbers of crimes allegedly happening during their voyages.

Now, with the assistance from the United States Department of Transportation, the public has ready access to crime statistics for a crime allegedly committed on board a cruising vessel.  Critically, recently enacted legislation not only compels cruise line to cooperate with reporting of offenses, but FBI agents are also assigned to investigate crimes the reportedly happen during a voyage. The FBI will establish a communication system that enables victims to contact the FBI for assistance while onboard the vessel.

Early this morning, British news outlet Gazette Live, reported that an elderly couple from Teeside, England, had been violently assaulted by a fellow passenger, whilst cruising on Thomson Cruises Thomson Celebration in January. According to the report, the woman suffered “serious spinal injuries,” while her husband incurred “serious facial injuries,” both requiring treatment at a hospital. Apparently, the couple’s attacker was permitted to leave the cruise shortly after the incident, and the cruise line did nothing to detain him. Cleveland, England Police are investigating what they are referring to as a “serious unprovoked assault”, but have not yet made an arrest.

Old Couple

As our Florida cruise ship accident attorneys have discussed before, preventing and controlling crime on board ships is one of the biggest problems that the cruise ship industry faces. Every year, dozens of cruise ship passengers fall victim to physical and sexual assaults onboard cruise ships at the hands of crew members and other passengers.

Back in December, this blog discussed an assault on a 14-year-old passenger aboard Carnival Cruise Line’s Imagination by a security guard. According to the victim of the alleged assault, the guard chased him into a stairwell and slammed him into a wall after witnessing the teen try to sneak into the ship’s nightclub. In July of last year, a 19-year-old man from Kentucky was charged with raping an 18-year-old aboard the Carnival Dream. These are just a couple of the dozens of crimes that are committed against cruise passengers each year.

Last month, our Florida cruise ship accident attorneys discussed some of the negative aspects of the ever-increasing size of cruise ships, including the fact that such megaships, by their very nature, have many more areas in which a passenger can become injured.  As mentioned in that post, with more entertainment venues comes a greater risk of injury to passengers, especially when cruises feature options such as on-board surfing and giant waterslides.  Some ships have several gigantic pools that too often go unsupervised by lifeguards.

Blonde Boy Credit

One of the megaships that features such water entertainment options is the Carnival ship Victory, which is 893 feet long and has a capacity for 3,400 passengers and 1,000 crew members. The Victory has three large pools, all that include whirlpools, and a 214-foot-long waterslide. With such a massive amount of space to be supervised, it is no surprise that tragedy struck the Victory when 6-year-old Qwentyn Hunter of Winter Garden, Florida, drowned in one of the pools aboard the ship where no life guards were on duty.

According to a recent CNN story, Hunter was spotted underwater in a mid-ship pool by passengers as the ship was completing the final leg of a four-day journey. A ship DJ saw Hunter struggling in the water and another passenger guest then jumped into the pool to pull the boy out.  A crew member attempted to revive the unconscious boy, but was unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead shortly after.

Last month, South Florida news outlet WSVN reported that a teenage boy had decided to file a lawsuit against Carnival Cruise lines, alleging that the boy had been beaten by a security guard while aboard the Carnival Imagination in June. Our Florida cruise ship attorneys have been following this case closely.

Handcuffs
According to the teen, who was fourteen at the time of the incident, he tried sneak into the ship’s nightclub, but was spotted and ran out by the security guard. The teen alleges that the guard chased him into a nearby stairwell, where the guard grabbed him and slammed him into a wall. The teen claims the security guard let go when two passengers began taking photos and intervened. The guard then escorted the teen to his parents’ cabin. The boy’s family alleges that he suffered a bulging disk in his neck as a result of the assault and is now under the care of a neurologist and psychologist. The family maintains that they intend on filing a lawsuit and are calling for the security guard to be fired so as to prevent a similar incident from happening to other passengers.

As this blog has discussed before, preventing and controlling crime on board ships is one of the biggest problems that the cruise ship industry faces. Every year, dozens of cruise ship passengers fall victim to physical and sexual assaults onboard cruise ships at the hands of crew members and other passengers.

New legislation is currently before Congress in an effort to offer more protection for cruise ship passengers. The new legislation has been introduced in the wake of numerous cruise ship accidents such as mechanical failures, an increase in crimes at sea, and is part of a concerted effort to improve quality, safety and security for all cruise ship passengers. If past, the “Cruise Passenger Protection Act of 2013” would be the most significant cruise ship legislation enacted since the “Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010” was signed by President Barak Obama. Maritime attorneys, passengers, and consumer protection groups like the International Cruise Victims Association along with members of Congress say much stronger laws and regulations are needed in order to protect the public and to hold cruise ship companies accountable when they should be.

Included in the legislation would be changes in the way cruise ship companies report crimes. It would also require cruise ship operators like Carnival and Royal Caribbean to change the way they report and assist innocent victims on their vessels. Though still in it’s early stages, the legislation would could require cruise lines to maintain video footage from surveillance cameras and install cameras in public areas.

Cruise ship lawyers at Gerson & Schwartz, PA explain that cruise ship companies have a huge incentive for limiting the way criminal incidents such as rape and sexual assault are reported and investigated. Under federal maritime law, cruise ship companies are subject to strict liability for crimes committed by their crew members. This means that when crimes have been committed by employees, the cruise line is automatically liable to an injured party. If the crime is established, crime victims do not need to prove fault, but only need to prove medical causation and damages. “The way cruise lines industry defends these cases is by a lack of oversight in the criminal investigation process. As soon as there is a criminal incident aboard one of their vessels the cruise lines typically “dump” the accused employee in the next port of call.

Instead of turning potential criminals over to police or FBI, the cruise lines will conduct their own investigation which is usually minimal at best. The cruise line usually takes the position that it was a “he said she said” and then make a self serving determination that the incident did not really occur. The next step, is the cruise lines will assist the accused and buy them a “one way ticket” back to their home country, and before any real investigation can occur. Notably, many cruise ship employees are Indian, from the Philippines, Europe, or live in other far away places.

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carnival-cruise-sex-abuse-case.jpgMIAMI, FL— August 18, 2011 – In yet another case of horror on the high seas, a 19-year-old man admitted to sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl during a vacation aboard a Carnival cruise ship in March. According to information provided by Alabama Live, Dylan Cole Bloodsworth, of Mississippi, pleaded guilty to child sexual abuse and enticement charges in connection with the cruise assault.

Reports indicated the unidentified victim was on a cruise voyage to Mexico with her friend and friend’s mom when she met Bloodsworth. According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria Murphy, the teenage girl was sexually assaulted when she accompanied Bloodsworth to his room on the basis that she believed he would merely be fetching his jacket.

Once in Bloodsworth’s cabin, the 19-year-old proceeded to have sex with the minor, who told investigators she did not consent to the encounter. The teen also alleged that she was hurt in the sexual attack, which occurred on the Carnival Elation cruise ship.

On August 16, Bloodsworth, who initially claimed, “I don’t think there was force or coercion involved,” stood before federal prosecutors in Alabama and entered a “blind” guilty plea to charges including sexual abuse of a child and enticement of a minor.

Furthermore, Bloodsworth was charged with sexual battery after allegedly sexually assaulting a minor, also only 13 years of age, in Mississippi. Those charges remain pending.

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