InsideTrack: The Love Boat: Exciting and Contagious

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

They don’t call it the Love Boat for nothing.

But there’s another side of those carefree flings aboard cruises that no one really talks about, but are found in the steamy filings of Miami federal court.

Meghan Burtt of New York alleges in a July 17 amended complaint that she got herpes aboard the Carnival Cruise ship Victory in March 2007. She blames Anthony Nelson, an employee of a Park West subsidiary that sells pricey art aboard the ship.

Park West is a frequent flyer these days in federal court. It is the subject of a lawsuit for selling supposed investor art produced by the likes of Salvador Dali, Joan Miro and other masters at over-inflated prices to drunken passengers.

Attorney Michael Winkleman said the lawsuit is no laughing matter. His client is in her early 20s.

“It’s a real devastating thing that happened to her,” said Winkleman, a lawyer with Lipcon, Margulies & Alsina in Miami. “It pretty much ruined her life.”

Park West wouldn’t comment, and Carnival wanted to examine the lawsuit before commenting. Nelson couldn’t be reached for comment.

The defense will argue Burtt — or any passenger for that matter — is responsible for his or her own sexual activity, not the cruise ship, Winkleman predicted.

Winkleman, though, is playing hardball. He said even though the sex is consensual, existing law makes it sexual battery because the defendant allegedly did not disclose his condition.

“She was consensual to someone who was STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease) free,” he said. “The law is very clear. It wipes out consent. And when you have sex without consent, it’s battery.”

Winkleman said that Nelson broke the rules applying to cruise ship employees of no fraternization with passengers. It’s unknown if he still works for Park West.

Winkleman said the lawsuit will shine a light on an ongoing “epidemic” of workers aboard cruise ships targeting passengers for sex.

The case is being heard by U.S. District Court Judge Joan A. Lenard.
— John Pacenti