Young Fisherman Who Was Adrift At Sea Sues Princess Cruise Lines For Negligence

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

Sometimes accidents aboard cruise ships happen and they are the direct fault of the ship’s operators or crew members. When this happens, victims may be entitled to compensation for any injuries or losses they have suffered and should turn to a cruise injury attorney for help in filing a claim. However, one lawsuit earlier this year proved that negligence cases can extend beyond the scope of what happens onboard a cruise vessel.

An 18-year-old Panamanian fisherman who had been adrift at sea for 28 days filed a lawsuit against Princess Cruise Lines, claiming that one of its ships should have stopped and offered him assistance. The law suit alleges that the actions of crew members aboard the Star Princess was “outrageous and, under the circumstances, so beyond all bounds of decency as to be regarded as shocking, atrocious and utterly intolerable in a civilized community.”

Three passengers aboard the Star Princess had seen the plaintiff, Adrian Vasquez, and his fellow fishermen signaling for help at sea and alerted a crew member. However, the lawsuit claims that even though the crew “had clear knowledge that people were stranded in an open boat hundreds of miles from shore in the Pacific Ocean and desperately calling for their help, they consciously ignored the emergency situation and did not deviate from their cruise.”

Vasquez’ boat, Fifty Cents, had been adrift for 15 days when the Star Princess passed by it on March 10, at which point, all three fishermen aboard the vessel were alive. That same day, according to the suit, 16-year-old Fernando Osorio died and five days later, another fisherman, Oropeces Betancourt, 24 died.

The lawsuit alleges the Star Princess did not offer assistance because it did not want to deviate from its scheduled itinerary, which would have caused the company to lose money. However, Princess is denying these claims and issued a statement saying the captain was never notified due to a lack of communication.

“Because of what we suspect was a case of unfortunate miscommunication, regretfully the captain of the Star Princess was never notified of the passengers’ concern. Had he been advised, he would have had the opportunity to respond, as he has done numerous times throughout his career,” said Princes Cruises in a statement. “This is an upsetting and emotional issue for us all, as no employee onboard a Princess ship would purposefully ignore someone in distress. It is our ethical and maritime responsibility to provide assistance to any vessel in need, and it is not an uncommon occurrence for our ships to be involved in a rescue at sea. In fact, we have done so more than 30 times over the last decade.”

Vasquez was finally rescued by the Ecuadorian navy near the Galapagos Islands. He is seeking compensation for physical and emotional damages he suffered allegedly because of negligent Princess crew members.

Anyone who has suffered an injury or lost someone at sea because of cruise operator negligence may seek legal help to file a case. If this has happened to you or a loved one, contact our cruise injury attorneys today to file a claim and protect your rights.