On Sunday evening, October 29, the cruise ship Carnival Sunshine — operated by the global cruise industry giant, Carnival Cruise Line — listed (i.e., tilted, or leaned) severely towards its port side, causing furniture and other items (i.e., plates, glasses, cutlery, and other loose items) located throughout the vessel to slide around, fall over, and otherwise collide with passengers and crew members. Passengers aboard Carnival Sunshine reportedly felt the starboard side of the ship lift into the air, which, in conjunction with the various loose items moving around the cabin, caused widespread panic. The ship was eventually righted and leveled off, though it is not clear how long the leveling-off process took.
Although as of yet no injuries are reported to have been suffered, many passengers were so frazzled by the listing incident that they chose to cancel their trip and return home after reaching their next docking point.
According to a formal statement, made by the Captain of Carnival Sunshine and delivered to passengers aboard the ship later that night, the listing incident occurred due to a malfunctioning fin stabilizer. The Captain noted that a working fin stabilizer was not required to ensure passenger safety — only their comfort.
Though the official statements of Carnival Cruise Line appear to dismiss the concerns of passengers, it is possible that the cruise line be liable for damages resulting from the listing incident. Given the circumstances of the present case, if any passengers suffered injuries, they would likely have an actionable claim against the cruise line for damages.
Fin Stabilizers Must Be Adequately Inspected and Maintained to Prevent Injuries
Cruise lines must adequately maintain their vessels to ensure that a defect does not occur while at-sea. When a discoverable defect develops, its correction is necessary to avoid exposing passengers to an unreasonable risk of harm.
In the present case, the Captain argued that the fin stabilizer malfunction was not a “safety issue,” but that is not a comprehensive accounting of the value of a fin stabilizer in the passenger safety context. Though the Carnival Sunshine may be capable of navigating its journey with a malfunctioning fin stabilizer, the listing of the ship exposes passengers to substantial risks of injury by virtue of loose items moving around the interior.
If there were, no loose items and the passengers belted themselves down for the entire journey, then the type of listing that a malfunctioning fin stabilizer can cause, might not be a safety issue. However, in real-world circumstances — where furniture, plates, cutlery, and other items are located in individual rooms and throughout the ship — ambulatory passengers and loose objects are at risk of colliding and injuries resulting therefrom.
We Can Provide Assistance
If you suffered injuries in a cruise ship accident — whether due to an unexpected ship listing, or in some other scenario— you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Successfully litigating an injury claim against a cruise line can be difficult, however, as cruise lines have substantial resources at their disposal (and tend to be quite aggressive in defending against such claims). You will want to retain attorneys who have a long and consistent track record of success in obtaining favorable verdicts and settlements in maritime litigation.
Here at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A., our team of attorneys has over a century of combined experience representing the interests of those who have sustained injuries in various cruise ship accidents, such as severe listing at-sea. We are relentless litigators, and are willing and able to take your case all the way to trial (if necessary). Our aggressive approach to the dispute process ensures that defense counsel take our demands seriously, giving us additional advantage throughout the litigation process.
If you’d like to learn more about your claims and the next steps you’ll have to take to secure compensation for your injuries, contact the seasoned maritime lawyers here at Lipcon for further assistance.