Jane Doe v. Carnival Corp.

Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

August 29, 2014

Jane Doe v. Carnival Corp.

Complaint

Passengers with disabilities often face challenges when vacationing aboard cruise ships. In this case, a disabled passenger was trying to disembark a Carnival cruise ship in a wheel chair. Carnival had set up a ramp for disembarking passengers, but made the ramp so steep that it was dangerous for wheel chairs. When the Plaintiff attempted to use the ramp, no crewmember was there to assist her and she fell from her wheelchair causing serious injuries.

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
MIAMI DIVISION
CASE NO.
JANE DOE,
Plaintiff,

v.

CARNIVAL CORPORATION,
Defendant.
___________________________/

COMPLAINT AND DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

Plaintiff sues Defendant and alleges:

PRELIMINARY ALLEGATIONS

1. Plaintiff is a citizen of the state of Kentucky.

2. Defendant, Carnival Corporation (“Carnival”) is a foreign corporation having its principal place of business in Miami, Florida.

3. The matter in controversy exceeds, exclusive of interest and costs, the sum specified by 28 U.S.C. 1332.

4. In the event this matter does not come under diversity jurisdiction of the court, then this matter is being brought under the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction of the court.

5. Defendant Carnival, at all times material hereto, personally or through an agent:
a. Operated, conducted, engaged in or carried on a business venture in this state and/or country or had an office or agency in this state and/or country;
b. Was engaged in substantial activity within this state;
c. Operated vessels in the navigable waters of this state;
d. Committed one or more of the acts stated in Florida Statutes, Sections 48.081(5), 48.181 or 48.193;
e. The acts of Defendant set out in this Complaint occurred in whole or in part in this county and/or state;
f. Defendant, as a common carrier, was engaged in the business of providing to the public and to Plaintiff in particular, for compensation, vacation cruises aboard the vessel, Carnival Sensation.

6. At all times material hereto, Defendant Carnival is subject to the jurisdiction of the Courts of this state.

7. At all times material hereto, the causes of action asserted in this Complaint arise under the General Maritime Laws of the United States.

8. At all times material hereto, Defendant Carnival owned, operated, managed, maintained and/or controlled the Carnival Sesnation.

9. On or about October 3, 2013, Plaintiff was a paying passenger on the vessel, which was in navigable waters.

10. On or about the above date, while aboard the vessel, Plaintiff suffered serious personal injuries when she fell from her wheel chair while disembarking the vessel on an unreasonably dangerous gangway as a result of the negligence of Defendant, Carnival.

COUNT I – NEGLIGENCE

Plaintiff re-alleges, adopts and incorporates by reference the allegations in paragraphs one (1) through ten (10) as though alleged originally herein.

1. It was the duty of Carnival to provide Plaintiff with reasonable care under the circumstances.

2. On or about October 3, 2013, Carnival and/or its agents, servants, and/or employees breached its duty to provide Plaintiff with reasonable care under the circumstances.

3. Plaintiff was injured due to the fault and/or negligence of Carnival and/or its agents, servants, joint ventures and/or employees as follows:
a. Failure to provide passengers, including Plaintiff, with a gangway/walkway/ramp free of hazards, and/or;
b. Failure to select and/or maintain a reasonably safe surface for the gangway/walkway, in light of the gangway/walkway/ramp’s anticipated purpose, and/or;
c. Failure to promulgate and/or enforce adequate policies and procedures regarding maintaining a reasonably safe gangway/walkway/ramp, and/or;
d. Failure to failure to construct the gangway/walkway/ramp in such a way that it is safe for use by disabled persons in wheelchairs, and/or;
e. Creating too steep an angle on the disembarkation gangway/walkway/ramp which created a hazard to persons with mobility assistance devices, and/or;
f. Failure to recognize and/or correct the hazard(s) which caused Plaintiff to slip and fall, and/or;
g. Failure to adequately inspect the area where Plaintiff suffered her accident;
h. Failure to warn Plaintiff of the hazard(s) posed to her, and/or
i. Failure to maintain the area where Plaintiff suffered her accident in a reasonably safe condition, and/or;
j. Failure to assist Plaintiff in traversing the gangway/walkway/ramp in her wheelchair, causing her to fall from her wheelchair, and/or;
k. Failure to eliminate and/or modify the hazard(s) which caused Plaintiff to suffer her accident, and/or;
l. Failure to promulgate and/or enforce adequate policies and procedures for the safe use of the gangway by disabled passengers [1], and/or;
m. Failure to ascertain whether the gangway/walkway/ramp met international safety standards, coast guard standards, and/or ADA [2] standards; and/or
n. Failure to erect signs instructing Plaintiff of the safest manner in which to traverse the gangway/walkway/ramp; and/or;
o. Failure to ascertain the cause of prior similar accidents occurring on any of the Defendant’s vessels fleet wide so as to take adequate measures to prevent their reoccurrence, and more particularly Plaintiff’s accident.

All of which caused and/or contributed to Plaintiff becoming injured when she fell from her wheel chair while traversing a steep and unreasonably dangerous gangway/walkway/ramp to disembark the vessel.

4. At all times material hereto, Carnival had exclusive custody and control of the vessel and the gangway/walkway/ramp on which the Plaintiff was injured.

5. At all times material hereto, Carnival violated the International Safety Management Code’s goals and intent and failed to properly, adequately and safely implement the International Safety Management Code, and by extension, its own SQM Manual.

6. At all times material hereto, Carnival failed to have an adequate Safety Management System Manual aboard the vessel, and/or failed to properly implement the Safety Management System Manual aboard the vessel.
7. As a result, all of the above caused and/or contributed to Plaintiff being injured when she suffered a fall while disembarking the vessel.

8. Carnival knew of the foregoing conditions causing Plaintiff’s accident and did not correct them, or the conditions existed for a sufficient length of time so that Carnival, in the exercise of reasonable care under the circumstances, should have learned of the conditions and corrected them.

9. As a result of the negligence of Carnival, Plaintiff was injured about Plaintiff’s body and extremities, suffered physical pain, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, disability, disfigurement, physical handicap, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental and/or nervous disorders, suffered the aggravation of any previously existing conditions, incurred medical expenses in the care and treatment of Plaintiff’s injuries, inconvenience in the normal pursuits and pleasures of life, lost earnings and earning capacity past and future, and feelings of economic insecurity. Plaintiff also lost the benefit of her entire vacation, cruise and transportation costs. Further, the injuries resulting from her fall are permanent and/or continuing in nature and Plaintiff will suffer these losses and impairments into the future.

WHEREFORE, the Plaintiff demands judgment for all damages recoverable under the law and trial by jury.

RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED,
LIPCON, MARGULIES, ALSINA
& WINKLEMAN, P.A.
Attorneys for Plaintiff
One Biscayne Tower, Suite 1776
Miami, Florida 33131
Telephone: (305) 373 – 3016
Facsimile: (305) 373 – 6204

By: /s/Eric C. Morales
ERIC CHARLES MORALES
Florida Bar No. 91875
MICHAEL A. WINKLEMAN
Florida Bar No. 36719

Date: August 29, 2014

[1] For example, requiring all wheelchairs to descend down a ramp backwards and with the aid of a crewmember.

[2] American’s With Disabilities Act