According to the United States Coast Guard, a Carnival cruise ship passenger fell overboard on a the Carnival Ecstasy over Labor Day Weekend. But if you ask Carnival cruise lines, they have already publicly stated that the passenger was witnessed jumping overboard. If Carnivals version is the truth, then this is poor public relations in my opinion. Regardless, these are certainly very different versions of what happened. The cruise ship passenger has been identified as Rina Patel, of New York. The vessel was located about 15 miles off Grand Bahama Island. Our cruise ship lawyers are monitoring the situation. According to reports, USCG “man overboard procedures” were initiated. However, it is unclear what procedures if any Carnival followed and if they did, when they were initiated. If the passenger in fact jumped, then there should be evidence to support Carnival’s public statement that the passenger was observed jumping. Yet, the USCG reports and other media outlets suggests negligence. However, what facts the investigation yields and what the CCTV cameras show will shed light on whether this was accidental or not.
As a maritime personal lawyer in Miami, Florida that has litigated many cruise ship cases against many cruise lines operators including Carnival, it is astonishing that Carnival would come out and publicly state that the passenger jumped or committed suicide before any of the investigation or facts or details are revealed about the investigation.
The Cruise Ship Vessel Safety and Security Act mandates that serious crimes including missing person incidents are reported immediately to the United States Coast Guard. However, there is no private right of action for failure to violate this important federal statute. So, while the guidelines by CVSSA are straight forward, there is virtually little in the way of a legal remedy in the event these rules promulgated by the US Congress are not followed.