Cruise Disappearances, Cruise Passenger S.O.S., Cruise Ship Law, Maritime Wrongful Death

Widow Files Negligence Lawsuit Against Carnival Cruise Line, Saying Husband’s Death Was Not Suicide


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Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A. is comprised of attorneys that are nationally-recognized industry leaders in the field of maritime and admiralty law. Our team of lawyers has over a century of combined experience, has successfully handled over 3,000 cases, and has recovered over 300 million dollars in damages for our clients.

A cruise injury law case contends that Carnival Cruise Line negligently left an intoxicated passenger to die after he fell overboard and then falsely claimed he had committed suicide. The widow, Michele Markham, alleges it took Carnival over 20 minutes to send out a rescue boat after her husband Clint, who admitted to being drunk, fell overboard. In her federal lawsuit, she claims her husband’s body was never recovered by the cruise line and contends Carnival told media, falsely, that her husband had committed suicide.

The couple had decided to go on a cruise on the Carnival Conquest in September 2011 to celebrate Client’s 40th birthday. Markham alleges Carnival invited “daredevils at heart” and offered unlimited alcoholic drinks for the itinerary. After drinking in Cozumel, the couple returned to the ship before 6 p.m.

Markham used Carnival’s “Fun Ship” party atmosphere to foster her claim, saying Clint took advantage of the unlimited alcohol that was available on an excursion and kept drinking while onboard the ship. When she tried to calm him down, she said that Clint went to the upper deck and sat on the railing.

There are witnesses that say Clint fell while others say he jumped, but everyone agrees that he appeared to be unconscious before hitting the water. Markham says that immediately following the incident, passengers tried to contact the ship’s deck, but Carnival authorities did not send out a rescue boat until at least 20 minutes after being notified of the cruise passenger disappearance.

According to the complaint, Markham accuses Carnival of negligence by serving alcohol to passengers in excess, leading Clint’s judgment to be impaired. His death was not the result of suicide, the complaint alleges, but intoxication that Carnival supposedly propagated

“Clint Markham consumed so much alcohol in such a short period of time on September 23, 2011 that his judgment and physical coordination were substantially impaired,” read the complaint. “Defendant negligently served alcoholic beverages to plaintiff’s decedent Clint Markham to excess so that his judgment and faculties were substantially impaired.”

The complaint goes on to say that Carnival has a corporate policy of not keeping track of the amount of alcohol it serves to passengers freely, so it does not have to provide a notice of overdrinking to passengers who might sustain a cruise ship injury due to intoxication, and then attempt to sue the cruise line. Clint had expressed that he was inebriated but wanted to continue “drinking and partying.”

“Even though he had consumed excessive amounts of alcohol, Clint Markham had been conditioned by defendant to want to keep partying, and to take it to the limit and beyond…Defendant Carnival Corporation goes to great lengths to inebriate its passengers and, in so doing, to break down their inhibitions, and create an ‘anything goes’ atmosphere,” read the complaint.

Carnival was also accused of “intentionally” failing to take the proper precautions to prevent tragedies like this one by not training staff to monitor the rail. The cruise line was also accused of failing to send out a rescue team within a prudent period of time.

Carnival claims Client went overboard on purpose so as to commit suicide, but the claim offers a rebuttal, contending that had in fact committed suicide, he would not have been unconscious before going overboard. The claim states that Clint had no prior history of depression and things in his personal life were going well, having just started a new, well-paying job and being a devoted husband and father. Markham is now seeking punitive damages for negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

When a person is reported missing from a cruise ship, it is the responsibility of the cruise line to respond quickly and send out a rescue team to find the victim. If the cruise line fails to do so, they may be held liable for any injuries or fatalities. Anyone who has been faced with the tragic disappearance of their loved one from a cruise ship is encouraged to seek legal help immediately. Our cruise injury lawyers have years of experience defending those who have suffered due to a cruise line’s negligence and will see to it you obtain compensation for your tragedy.

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