S.L. vs CELEBRITY CRUISES, INC.,

Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

July 14, 2015

S.L. vs CELEBRITY CRUISES, INC.,

Complaint

This is a Complaint filed on behalf of a passenger who was severely injured when she tripped and fell on the uneven and irregular surface on the cruise ship’s gangway.

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA

MIAMI DIVISION

 

CASE NO.

 

S.L.

Plaintiff,

v.

CELEBRITY CRUISES, INC.,

Defendant.

___________________________/

COMPLAINT AND DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

Plaintiff sues Defendant and alleges:

PRELIMINARY ALLEGATIONS

  1. Plaintiff is a citizen of Illinois and Defendant Celebrity Cruises, INC., (“Celebrity”) is a Liberian corporation with its principal place of business in Miami, Florida.
  2. The matter in controversy exceeds, exclusive of interest and costs, the sum specified by 28 U.S.C. § 1332. In the event diversity jurisdiction does not apply, this matter falls under the Article III admiralty and maritime jurisdiction of this Court.
  3. Defendant Celebrity, 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, Celebrity Summit.

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

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

i. At all times material hereto, Defendant Celebrity owned, operated, managed, maintained and/or controlled the Celebrity Summit (“the vessel”).

j. On or about October 12, 2014, Plaintiff was a paying passenger on the vessel, which was in navigable waters.

k. On or about October 12, 2014, while re-boarding the vessel from the port of Quebec, Canada, aboard the vessel’s portable gangway, Plaintiff suffered serious personal injuries when she tripped and fell on the uneven and irregular surface on the vessel’s gangway.

COUNT I – NEGLIGENCE

AGAINST DEFENDANT CELEBRITY

Plaintiff re-alleges, adopts and incorporates by reference the allegations in paragraphs one (1) through eight (8) as though alleged originally herein.

  1. It was the duty of Celebrity Cruises Inc., to provide Plaintiff with reasonable care under the circumstances.
  2. On or about October 12, 2014, Defendant 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 Defendant Celebrity and/or its agents, servants, joint ventures and/or employees as follows:

a. Failure to provide passengers, including Plaintiff, with a walking area free of tripping hazards, and/or;

b. Failure to select and/or maintain a reasonably safe walking surface, in light of its anticipated purpose; and/or

c. Failure to inspect the subject gangway prior to allowing passengers to walk on it; and/or

d. Failure to adequately monitor the subject gangway in order to maintain it in a reasonably safe condition prior to Plaintiff walking on it; and/or

e. Failure to adequately monitor and/or assist the Plaintiff in walking on the subject gangway; and/or

f. Failure to warn Plaintiff of tripping or falling hazards while walking on the subject gangway; and/or

g. Failure to promulgate and/or enforce adequate policies and procedures regarding inspecting and/or monitoring and/or maintaining the subject gangway in a safe condition; and/or

h. Failure to promulgate and/or enforce adequate policies and procedures regarding closing off and/or warning passengers of the subject gangway when it was in an unsafe condition; and/or

i. Failure to maintain a reasonably safe walking area where Plaintiff tripped and fell; and/or

j. Failure to identify the tripping hazard(s) which caused Plaintiff to trip and fall; and/or

k. Failure to adequately inspect the area where Plaintiff suffered her accident; and/or

l. Failure to select adequate gangway surface in light of its intended purpose; and/or

m. Failure to identify the inadequacy of gangway surface in light of its intended purpose within a reasonable amount of time; and/or

n. Failure to change and/or correct the inadequacy of the gangway surface in light of its intended purpose within a reasonable amount of time; and/or

o. Failure to adequately inspect the gangway surface to determine its adequacy in light of its intended purpose within a reasonable amount of time; and/or

p. Failure to warn Plaintiff of the tripping or falling hazard(s) posed to her; and/or

q. Failure to warn Plaintiff of the risk(s) and/or hazard(s) posed to her due to the lack of adequate maintenance and inspection of the area where she suffered her accident; and/or

r. Failure to maintain the area, where Plaintiff suffered her accident, in a reasonably safe condition; and/or

s. Failure to correct the hazard(s) which caused Plaintiff to suffer her accident; and/or

t. Failure to eliminate and/or modify the hazard(s) which caused Plaintiff to suffer her accident; and/or

u. Failure to close off access to the area where Plaintiff suffered her accident, and/or

v. Failure to adequately conduct re-boarding of the ship in a reasonably safe manner; and/or

w. Failure to adequately supervise re-boarding of the ship so as to ensure it was done in a reasonably safe manner; and/or

x. Failure to test gangway surface to ascertain coefficiency of friction to determine whether gangway surface was reasonably safe; and/or

y. Failure to ascertain whether gangway surface meets applicable standards, such as ASTM F1166; and/or

z. 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 tripped and fell on an uneven or irregular surface while re-boarding the vessel from the port of Quebec, Canada, aboard the vessel’s portable gangway.

  1. At all times material hereto, Celebrity had exclusive custody and control of the vessel.
  2. At all times material hereto, Celebrity had exclusive custody and control of the subject gangway.
  3. At all times material hereto, Celebrity 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.
  4. At all times material hereto, Celebrity 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.
  5. As a result, all of the above caused and/or contributed to Plaintiff being injured when she suffered a trip and fall accident.
  6. Celebrity 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 Celebrity, in the exercise of reasonable care under the circumstances, should have learned of the conditions and corrected them. More particularly, Celebrity is aware of the possibly dangerous conditions faced by passengers as they re-board vessel in the various ports of calls, and Celebrity is aware of numerous prior incidents while re-boarding the vessel.
  1. Additionally, and/or alternatively, while it is well established that the operator of a vessel in navigable waters owes its passengers “a duty of reasonable care under the circumstances.” Kermarec v. Compagnie Generale Transatlantique, 358 U.S. 625, 632, 79 S.Ct. 406, 3 L.Ed.2d 550 (1959). “The degree of care considered reasonable in a particular circumstance depends upon the ‘extent to which the circumstances surrounding maritime travel are different from those encountered in daily life and involve more danger to the passenger.’ ” Samuels, 656 F.3d at 953, citing Rainey v. Paquet Cruises, Inc., 709 F.2d 169, 172 (2d Cir.1983). Where the condition leading to the plaintiff’s claim is one that is commonly encountered and not unique to the maritime context, a carrier must have “ ‘actual or constructive notice of the risk-creating condition’ before it can be held liable.” at 953, citing Keefe v. Bahama Cruise Line, Inc., 867 F.2d 1318, 1322 (11th Cir.1989). By contrast, a heightened degree of care is required where the risk-creating condition is peculiar to the maritime context. See Catalina Cruises v. Luna, 137 F.3d 1422, 1425–26 (9th Cir.1998) (concluding that “where the risk is great because of high seas, an increased amount of care and precaution is reasonable”); Kirk v. Holland American Line, 616 F.Supp.2d 1101, 1105 (W.D.Wash.2007) (declining to conclude that risks associated with disembarkation are not unique to cruises); Kearns v. Celebrity Cruises, Inc., 1997 WL 729108, *2 (S.D.N.Y.1997) (holding that “given the rough weather attending plaintiff’s injury, [the defendant cruiseline] owed an enhanced duty of care to its passengers”).
  2. As a result of the negligence of Defendant Celebrity, 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 and incurred medical expenses in the care and treatment of Plaintiff’s injuries. Plaintiff also lost the benefit of her entire vacation, cruise and transportation costs. Further, the injuries resulting from her fall are permanent 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 against Celebrity and demands trial by jury.

DATED JULY 14, 2015

LIPCON, MARGULIES,

ALSINA & WINKLEMAN, P.A.

Attorneys for Plaintiff

One Biscayne Tower, Suite 177

Miami, Florida 33131

Telephone: (305) 373 – 3016

Facsimile: (305) 373 – 6204

 

By: /s/Michael Winkleman        

MICHAEL WINKLEMAN

Florida Bar No. 36719