Royal Caribbean Wins Summary Judgment in Dropped Toddler Scenario

This tragic scenario included an eighteen-month-old lady who fell from the arms of her grandfather through an open window on Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas in July of 2019. She fell 150 ft to the pier underneath, ensuing in her death. The toddler’s mother and father filed suit in Federal District Court for the Southern District of Florida against the cruise line in December of 2019, alleging  negligence and failure to alert of a hazard (the open window) on the cruise ship.

We noted on the unfortunate set of instances on July 7, 2019, noting that there have been relatively couple predicaments wherever toddlers have fallen from higher decks on cruise ships. In 2012, a 14 month previous toddler fell from deck 12 to deck 11 on the Monarch of the Seas. The toddler was injured but, fortuitously, totally recovered. However, that baby was not dropped nor did she drop by an open window. In our 25 a long time of experience with Royal Caribbean, we are not conscious of any related instances to this 1.

The Court Grants Summary Judgment

In addressing the motion for summary judgment submitted by Royal Caribbean, the Courtroom reviewed video of the scene which “vividly” reveals that the grandfather leaned his upper system in excess of the wooden railing, which was about fifteen inches in entrance of the window for all-around 8 seconds. The online video then shows that the grandfather squatted down to choose up the toddler and then lift her in excess of the railing as he once again leaned his higher overall body over the railing a 2nd time and held the child out in front of him.

The Courtroom also reviewed pictures which show that the window in problem is surrounded by other home windows which had been tinted. The open up window appeared to be of a various shade which indicated that the other windows ended up closed whereas the topic window was  open. The grandfather also very first positioned the toddler on the wooden railing and then arrived at out to contact the window. He did not come to feel any glass but however lifted the little one outside of the railing and extended her entire body triggering her to tumble to the dock under to her death,

Royal Caribbean Had No Recognize of the Hazard

After considerable discovery was conducted by both equally events, the Court docket ruled that the cruise line experienced “no detect of the threat-creating risk on the cruise ship,” which the Courtroom outlined as the “lifting a boy or girl up to an open window.” The cruise line submitted evidence that the U.S. Coast Guard has no prior incidents stories involving very similar accidents.

The Grandfather’s Act of Lifting the Little one Up to An Open up Window Was a Superseding Lead to of the Incident

The Courtroom held that the grandfather’s perform was the superseding lead to of the incident which served to solely exculpate the cruise line from legal responsibility. The Court docket mentioned that the grandfather pled guilty to the cost of negligent murder (and was sentenced to a few decades probation). The Courtroom cited caselaw for the legal proposition that “independent acts of third persons are deemed unforeseeable and thus the sole proximate cause of the personal injury.”

Royal Caribbean Experienced No Responsibility to Warn of an Open up and Apparent Danger

Acquiring found that the hazard that led to the child’s demise was the positioning of the toddler on or by an open up window, and that the grandfather either realized or ought to have known the window was open, the Court docket held that there is no obligation to alert of the threat of inserting a kid in such a site.

A copy of the Court’s order now granting the summary judgement is connected listed here. A duplicate of the displays hooked up to the order (which are photos of the incident scene and continue to photos from the surveillance movies) are connected listed here.

Tough Fought Case

This case was hotly contested with the legal professionals for each the household and the cruise line attacking one particular one more in court filings. In February of this year, the family’s lawyers accused the cruise line of destroying evidence and “important CCTV footage of the time primary up to the incident.” In May possibly, the judge was so fed up with the private animosity in between the lawyers that he entered an purchase declaring that court paperwork “resemble a Jerry Springer script,” and ordered the lawyers to rewrite “inflammatory” filings.

This Purchase Was Predictable

Virtually precisely two decades in the past, I was quoted in a newspaper in Australia:

” . . . Miami-dependent maritime attorney Jim Walker says proving negligence will not be an quick feat for the relatives. ‘In order for a cruise line to be lawfully liable for this child’s demise, the family’s lawyer should verify that the cruise line acted unreasonably and that the cruise line understood or should really have identified of the precise risk on its ship. This will be an exceedingly challenging stress for the legal professionals to meet in this extremely unhappy and tragic set of situation. Without the need of evidence (prior incidents or proof that the cruise line understood of a dangerous situation on the cruise ship) the possibilities are trim that the courtroom (if match is filed) would allow this case to commence to a jury trial.’”

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Image credit score: Independence of the Seas -By Past My Ken – CC BY-SA 4., commons / wikimedia Royal Caribbean via theindychannel.