Royal Caribbean Cruise Shower Sewage Injury Case Appealed

Royal Caribbean Cruise Shower Sewage Injury Case Appealed
Royal Caribbean Cruise Shower Sewage Injury Case Appealed
Majesty of the Seas Cabin Shower
Majesty of the Seas Cabin Shower

Royal Caribbean Cruise Shower Sewage Injury Case Appealed – When Diann Hayes from Duval County Florida went on a Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines sailing aboard Majesty of the Seas, she never dreamt she would be showering inside her cabin, when “raw sewage” would come bubbling up into her shower. (see similar Majesty of the Seas sewage odor video below)

As Hayes looked at her feet and realized the shower sewage horror, she quickly moved to exit the shower, slipped and fell, injuring herself. That incident was on May 23, 2017.

On May 9, 2018, almost a year after the incident, Hayes filed a lawsuit against Royal Caribbean, in Florida State Court. The passenger Ticket Contract specifies the terms under which legal action can be taken against Royal Caribbean. First, the proper venue has to be met. The proper venue was Florida Southern District Court.

Attorney Linnes Finney Jr
Attorney Linnes Finney Jr

Second, the legal action has to begin within one year of the cruise. Though the lawsuit was filed within one year of the cruise, it was filed in Florida STATE Court, not Florida FEDERAL Southern District Court, which was the proper venue.

The Lawsuit – Diann Hayes v Royal Caribbean Cruise Line

Hayes was represented by Florida Attorney Linnes Finney Jr, who has been a lawyer for nearly 40 years,  admitted to the Florida Bar on November 4, 1982.  Finney a native of Milledgeville, Georgia,  practices in Port Lucie, Florida and was the 64th President of the National Bar Association (2006-2007).

Linnes Finney Jr was designated for selection to Super Lawyers for 2008 – 2019. Thomson Reuters Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. This selection process includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations.

This peer designation is awarded only to a select number of accomplished attorneys in each state. The Super Lawyers selection process takes into account peer recognition, professional achievement in legal practice, and other cogent factors.

About Majesty of the Seas

Majesty of the Seas is a 27-year-old cruise ship,  completed on April 26, 1992, she took her maiden vovage on April 4, 1992. Refit was performed on January 12, 2007. There were plans to transfer Majesty of the Seas to Pullmantur in 2016, it had been announced on November 21, 2014, however in July 2015, Royal Caribbean reversed those plans, instead stating that Majesty of the Seas would stay with Royal Caribbean International.

Majesty of the Seas Raw Sewage History

Majesty of the Seas has had cabin sewage problems dating back to at least 2008, even after a January 12, 2007 refit. The Cruise Mates website had a post on  Mar 10, 2008, complaining about sewage flooding the Majesty of the Seas cabin bathroom,  “We cruised aboard RCI’s Majesty of the Seas to the Bahamas leaving … side of the bath, flooding the entire bathroom with dirty sewage water.”

Brian David Bruns says in a Daily Beast article dated on February 13, 2013 “. . . ship toilets are very, very sensitive. The crew? Not so much. When working on RCI’s Majesty of the Seas, I noticed fish bones backed up the sewage system so often that the entire aft crew deck smelled like feces. Literally. And this was where the crew kitchen and dining room were located!”

Four years later, on Valentines Day, February 14, 2017, Majesty of the Seas was held in port at Port Canaveral after she failed an United States Coast Guard inspection. Almost 3,000 passengers on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship spent the night stuck at a port, after Coast Guard inspectors found ‘multiple’ safety issues aboard the ship, as some have complained about toilet issues and the ship smelling like sewage.

Then on Jun 12, 2017, the month after Diann Haye took her cruise, a Cruise Critic post noted, – “Smells like sewage! Not satisfied at all”,  Majesty of the Seas Cruise Review by Souseh.

Diann Hayes Alleges Knee Injury Majesty of the Seas
(Diann Hayes v Royal Caribbean Cruise Line)

So, on October 29, 2018, based on a legal technicality, Royal Caribbean filed to dismiss the case with the following facts itemized:

STATEMENT OF MATERIAL FACTS

  1. Plaintiff alleges that on or about May 23, 2017 she suffered physical injuries as the result of a fall incident while cruising onboard the Majesty of the Seas. (Complaint, [D.E. 1] at ¶¶ 15-16).
  2. Plaintiff was a fare paying passenger on the Majesty of the Seas on or about May 23, 2017. (Id. at ¶¶ 10-12).3
  3. RCCL was the operator of the Majesty of the Seas on or about May 23, 2017. (Id. at ¶ 9).
  4. This Court properly has personal jurisdiction over RCCL. (Id. at ¶¶ 5, 7).
  5. This Court enjoys federal subject matter jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1333. (Id. at ¶ 2).
  6. Venue is proper in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida pursuant to the applicable passenger ticket.
  7. Plaintiff failed to attach a copy of her passenger ticket contract for the subject cruise voyage to the Complaint; however, the Complaint contains multiple references to the passenger ticket contract. (Id. at ¶¶ 3, 6, 12). RCCL attaches hereto the Guest Ticket Booklet containing the Cruise/CruiseTour Ticket Contract that was provided to Plaintiff in connection with her May 2017 cruise vacation as Exhibit “A.”cket contract. (Id. at ¶¶ 3, 6).
  8. Prior to embarkation, all passengers are provided with a Guest Ticket Booklet, which contains the Cruise/Cruisetour Ticket Contract (“passenger ticket contract”). (See Affidavit of Jillian Studders, attached as Exhibit “B” at ¶ 4).
  9. The passenger ticket contract was further available for viewing by Plaintiff on RCCL’s websites www.rccl.com and www.royalcaribbean.com. (Exhibit “B” at ¶ 8).
  10. Plaintiff’s claims are governed by the terms and conditions of the passenger ticket contract. The passenger ticket contract contains a forum selection clause requiring personal injury lawsuits to be filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. (Exhibit “A” at p. 15, ¶ 9).
  11. Paragraph 9a. of the passenger ticket contract states:
    9. FORUM SELECTION CLAUSE FOR ALL LAWSUITS; CLASS ACTION WAIVER:
    a) EXCEPT AS PROVIDED IN SECTION 10 (b) WITH REGARD TO CLAIMS OTHER THAN FOR PERSONAL INJURY, ILLNESS OR DEATH OF A PASSENGER, IT IS AGREED BY AND BETWEEN PASSENGER AND CARRIER THAT ALL DISPUTES AND MATTERS WHATSOEVER ARISING UNDER, IN CONNECTION WITH OR INCIDENT TO THIS AGREEMENT, PASSENGER’S CRUISE, CRUISETOUR, LAND TOUR OR TRANSPORT, SHALL BE LITIGATED, IF AT ALL, IN AND BEFORE THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA LOCATED IN MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA, U.S.A. …
    (Id. at p. 15, ¶ 9).
  12. The passenger ticket contract also contains a contractual limitation requiring any personal injury action to be commenced within one (1) year of the date of injury. (Id. at p. 15, ¶ 10(a)).
  13. Paragraph 10 of the passenger ticket contract states:
    10. NOTICE OF CLAIMS AND COMMENCEMENT OF SUIT OR ARBITRATION; SECURITY:
    a. TIME LIMITS FOR PERSONAL INJURY/ILLNESS/DEATH CLAIMS: NO SUIT SHALL BE MAINTAINABLE AGAINST CARRIER, THE VESSEL OR THE TRANSPORT FOR PERSONAL INJURY, ILLNESS OR DEATH OF ANY PASSENGER UNLESS WRITTEN NOTICE OF THE CLAIM, WITH FULL PARTICULARS, SHALL BE DELIVERED TO CARRIER AT ITS PRINCIPAL OFFICE WITHIN SIX (6) MONTHS FROM THE DATE OF THE INJURY, ILLNESS OR DEATH AND SUIT IS COMMENCED (FILED) WIHTIN ONE (1) YEAR FROM THE DATE OF SUCH INJURY, ILLNESS OR DEATH AND PROCESS SERVED WITHIN 120 DAYS AFTER FILING, NOTWITHSTANDING ANY PROVISION OF LAW OF ANY STATE OR COUNTRY TO THE CONTRARY.
  14. Furthermore, the first paragraph of the passenger ticket contract contains language in bold print which specifically directs passengers’ attention to important limitations and rights contained within the contract, as follows:
    IMPORTANT NOTICE TO GUESTS YOUR CRUISE/CRUISETOUR TICKET CONTRACT CONTAINS IMPORTANT LIMITATIONS ON THE RIGHTS OF PASSENGERS. IT IS IMPORTANT THAT YOU CAREFULLY READ ALL TERMS OF THIS CONTRACT, PAYING PARTICULAR ATTENTION TO SECTION 3 AND SECTIONS 9 THROUGH 11, WHICH LIMIT OUR LIABILITY AND YOUR RIGHT TO SUE, AND RETAIN IT FOR FUTURE REFERENCE. (Id. at p. 13).
  15. The same notice stated in the first paragraph of the passenger ticket contract is also printed on the front page of the Guest Ticket Booklet, along with language advising passengers that the passenger ticket contract is contained within the Guest Ticket Booklet. (Id. at p. 1).
  16. Under the clearly-stated and communicated terms of the passenger ticket contract, Plaintiff was required to file suit in this Court by no later than May 23, 2018. Plaintiff filed her Complaint [DE 1] on September 13, 2018.
  17. Despite the forum selection clause in the passenger ticket contract, Plaintiff filed a complaint against RCCL in Florida state court on May 9, 2018. RCCL timely moved to dismiss Plaintiff’s state court Complaint on June 11, 2018 based on Plaintiff’s failure to file in the correct forum as specified in the passenger ticket contract’s forum selection clause. The Docket Sheet for the state court matter initiated by Plaintiff is attached hereto for reference as Exhibit “C.”
  18. Rather than immediately filing suit in this Court after RCCL filed its motion to dismiss in state court, Plaintiff waited until September 13, 2018 to file the Complaint [DE 1]— nearly four (4) months after the limitations period expired and more than three (3) months after RCCL filed its motion to dismiss in state court.

On April 18, 2018, Diann Hayes filed an appeal of the Florida Southern District Court decision. Though highly unlikely, she may get another chance to tell her story in federal court. But, Hayes story is being told by Cruise Bruise as a warning to others about the historically deplorable ongoing sewage problems aboard Majesty of the Seas.

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