Teen Sues Carnival After Getting Assaulted by Onboard Security Guard

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

Justice ScaleThere are age restrictions when it comes to cruise ship nightclubs, which, of course, should be heavily enforced. There have already been far too many incidents where underage passengers have been served alcohol and caused them to become sick – or in worst cases – experience fatal alcohol poisoning. However, the recent actions of a security guard onboard a Carnival Cruise Line ship raises questions about the adequacy and reasonableness of shipboard security.

Teens, as always, will be teens. And as such, may tend to get into a little trouble sometimes. One teen and his friends were sailing onboard the Carnival Imagination in June and upon seeing the exciting atmosphere inside the ship’s nightclub, tried to get inside and have a little fun. The teens were successful at getting inside, but things got complicated from then on.

The young man, only 14 years old at the time, was spotted by a security guard and ran out of the club. However, he was chased into a stairwell, where the teen claims the guard beat him.

“He grabs me by the shirt, slams me like really hard against the wall,” explained the victim, adding that the security guard only let go of him when two passengers intervened and one took pictures of the incident.

Afterward, the guard took the teen to his parent’s stateroom, where the young man told his mother what happened.  Once off the cruise, the teen was treated for an injury to his spine that resulted from being thrown up against the wall and is also seeing a psychologist after suffering from trauma related to the incident.

Now, the family has decided to file a lawsuit against Carnival for the teen’s alleged mistreatment. The victim’s parents are hoping their legal actions will help prevent another family from enduring the same horrible treatment, but this isn’t the first – nor likely the last – time a passenger has suffered at the hands of a negligent cruise line.

There have been countless physical assaults onboard cruise ships throughout the years, especially incidents involving sexual assault. Crew members are required to treat passengers with the utmost respect, but as we can see from this terrible incident, they often fail to do so. But the worst part of the matter is the fact that cruise lines don’t always reprimand their employees.

All cruise lines, whether U.S.-based or global, must act reasonably to protect the safety of their passengers. Onboard environments should be safe and free of hostility and fear, and it starts with the cruise company hiring competent and responsible crew members.

When a line hires a new staff member, no  matter what their particular job position entails, they are supposed to undergo adequate training. Training is supposed to focus on cruise line policies, maritime laws, customer service etiquette, and emergency procedures. Depending on the position, new hire training may focus on specific matters, such as hospitality services or maintenance management.

A security position is one of the most important onboard a ship. Our maritime lawyers have often maintained that there are far too few security for the number of passengers aboard a given ship.  Our investigation has revealed that, in one instance, there were 3 on duty security for approximately 4,000 passengers.  Given the high number of accidents and crimes that have transpired in the past few years, the cruise industry simply can’t afford to miss a beat when it comes to their safety features. Security falls under safety, and if a security guard can’t be trusted, then what can be said about a line’s overall safety?

Along the same lines – adequate security requires responsible security.  Beating up passengers?  That’s an extremely serious accusation.

The teen’s parents most likely complained while onboard, but seems like Carnival didn’t do anything to help.  This is just one of the many tragic incidents in which a crew member has been accused of misconduct.

Unfortunately, this incident is just one of very few incidents that actually make it to the public light. Many of these matters are swept under the rug. Victims are often afraid to come forward and cruise lines are all too quick to cover their tracks. Of course, if an incident of negligence or misconduct arises, the  cruise line is usually partly to blame and may be responsible for paying victims compensation.

It’s important to remember that there are several maritime laws protecting cruise passengers and victims always have the right to contact an attorney in order to discuss their options in filing a case.