Shore Man Sues Cruise Line After Suffering Heart Attack At Sea

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

When passengers and crewmembers become ill or injured at sea, they are entitled to seek help with a cruise ship accident lawyer to protect their rights. Many times, cruise lines may be held liable for any injuries or extended pain and suffering the victim endures, and those involved will be responsible for damages to the injured party. Recently, a Ballito, South Africa shore man has filed a lawsuit against a cruise company after suffering a heart attack at sea.

Hilton Curgenven is suing Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) and Starlight Cruises for R5 million (579,750 USD) for medical negligence, among other claims. He alleges MSC denied him adequate medical treatment after he had suffered a heart attack while onboard the MSC Sinfonia last year. Curgenven says that instead of being airlifted to a hospital, he was left on a stretcher on the wharf when the ship docked in Durban. Curgenven, the owner of a construction company at the time, would often travel on cruise ships part-time as a volunteer shore man ferrying passengers to shore and back.

After the incident, Curgenven said his life fell apart. He had been in and out of hospitals and now requires bypass surgery. He claims he can no longer work, and has lost his business and income. He claims he has no support or medical aid.

The incident took place on April 10, 2011 while the MSC Sinfonia headed to Portuguese Island. When the vessel docked, Curgenven helped transport passengers to shore and then had lunch with a friend.

“After lunch, I felt unwell and went to my cabin, as I thought I had food poisoning. I felt severe pain in my chest. I had a mild heart attack, but managed to open my door and collapsed in the passageway. Passengers alerted staff and I was taken to the sick bay,” he explained.

He said the doctor on the ship gave him a Voltaren injection, which is the last thing he remembers. Curgenven woke up at Chief Albert Luthuli Hospital after being in a coma for six weeks.

Curgenven claims the line failed to take him to an appropriate medical facility to receive the medical care he needed and merely abandoned him on the wharf. MSC and Starlight responded to the allegations, both deny liability, and have asked that Curgenven’s claim be dismissed, along with costs. The two companies claim Curgenven had entered into a contract with them knowing the MSC Sinfonia’s medical personnel were not specialists. The companies also claim they are not liable for damages that resulted in Curgenven being unfit to work. They explained Curgenven was admitted onboard as a volunteer shore man and was afforded the status of a fare- paying passenger, meaning he would work as a volunteer for one day and in return, was able to enjoy a “free cruise on board the vessel for the rest of the days on the cruise and would be afforded all the privileges… of fare-paying passengers.”

Photo Credit: msccruisesusa.com