Viking Cruises First Class Action Lawsuit Alleges ADA Violation

Viking Cruises Class Action Lawsuit Alleges ADA Violation
Viking Cruises Class Action Lawsuit Alleges ADA Violation
Viking Sky 14-night Cruise Panama Central America
Viking Sky 14-night Cruise Panama Central America

Viking Cruises First Class Action Lawsuit Alleges ADA Violation – Disabled senior Marcia Wachhaus, from Lake Wales, Florida, has the first class action lawsuit against Viking Cruises after she alleges her mobility scooter was seized by Viking Sky crew on the third day of a 14-night Panama & Central America (see video below) cruise to celebrate the couples’ 50th wedding anniversary.

Mr. Wachhaus booked a cruise on the Viking Sky, departing from Miami, Florida, for November 26, 2017 to December 10, 2017. This cruise departed on Thanksgiving weekend, ruining not only the 50th anniversary but also the momentous Thanksgiving celebration.

The lawsuit alleges, “Plaintiff, MARCIA WACHHAUS (“Mrs. Wachhaus”) is and was, at all times material hereto, a resident of Polk County, Florida. Mrs. Wachhaus is disabled and has Parkinson Like Syndrome, she has had several strokes which impair her speech and vision, and requires the use of a scooter to ambulate for distance.

Plaintiff, DANIEL WACHHAUS (“Mr. Wachhaus”) is and was, at all times material hereto, a resident of Polk County, Florida. Mr. Wachhaus is the husband of Marcia Wachhaus. Mr. Wachhaus is not disabled, but provides full time care for his wife, and is a qualified companion.

Marcia Wachhaus and Daniel Wachhaus, by and through their undersigned counsel, brings this lawsuit seeking declaratory relief, injunctive relief, monetary and punitive damages against Defendants, Viking Cruises USA LTD Co (“Viking Cruises”) and Viking River Cruises, Inc. (“VRC”) (collectively “The Defendants”) for violations of the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992, and Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Defendants denied the Plaintiffs full and equal enjoyment of Defendants’ services, facilities, and privileges. Defendants also failed to make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures, and failed to take such steps as are necessary to ensure this couple was not excluded, denied services, or otherwise treated differently during their two week cruise which departed from Miami, Florida in November of 2017. A cruise which was purchased to celebrate the couple’s fiftieth (50th) wedding anniversary.

Marcia Wachhaus (“Mrs. Wachhaus”) is disabled, and has Parkinson Like Syndrome, and several other disabilities which require the use of the scooter to ambulate. Without the scooter she can barely walk.Marcia Wachhaus

Daniel Wachhaus (“Mr. Wachhaus”) is the husband of Marcia Wachhaus. Mr. Wachhaus is not disabled, but provides full time care for his wife.

Mr. Wachhaus booked a cruise on the Viking Sky, departing from Miami, Florida, for November 26, 2017 to December 10, 2017 to celebrate their 50th wedding
anniversary.

The tour package included on shore excursions at each port of call including: Coxen Hole, Roatan Honduras; Puerto Limon, Costa Rica; Colon, Panama; Cartagena, Columbia; Montego Bay, Jamaica; and Grand Cayman.

On or about November 26, 2017, Mr. & Mrs. Wachhaus (collectively the Plaintiffs) boarded the Viking Sky. Upon arrival and boarding of the ship, the Viking staff
initially welcomed the Plaintiffs, and were aware of Mrs. Wachhaus’ use of a scooter because they assisted her onto the vessel while seated on her scooter.

On the second day of the cruise, the Plaintiffs enjoyed an on shore excursion at Key West, Florida. Mrs. Wachhaus departed/boarded the cruise ship, and navigated through the on shore excursion by way of her scooter without issue.

On or about November 28, 2017, the third day of the cruise, a person believed to be Giseleen Gatchalian, confronted the Plaintiffs while they were playing a trivia game Without providing a reason, Ms. Gatchalian told the Plaintiffs Mrs. Wachhaus’ scooter was to be immediately confiscated.

Mr. Wachhaus asked if the conversation about the scooter could wait until the trivia game was over since they were in a very public place. Instead of maintaining decorum and some privacy for the Plaintiffs, Ms. Gatchalian made a scene in front of the crowd playing trivia, and told the Plaintiffs they were prohibited from using the scooter for the remainder of the trip.

The Plaintiffs were humiliated and degraded by the treatment of the staff. Mr. Wachhaus was in tears as he sought the help of other staff members in the room, who told him they could not assist.

Mr. & Mrs. Wachhaus were forced to stay in their cabin for the remainder of the cruise due to the confiscation of the scooter. They left the cabin only a few times for  some meals when Mrs. Wachhaus had the strength to walk short distances with her walker.

The confiscation of the scooter also resulted in the Plaintiffs being denied access to the on shore excursions at each port of call (included in the cruise package) to
include; Coxen Hole, Roatan Honduras; Puerto Limon, Costa Rica; Colon, Panama; Cartagena, Columbia; Montego Bay, Jamaica; and Grand Cayman.

The unlawful confiscation of the scooter prohibited the Plaintiffs from the full enjoyment and benefit of the services they paid for as part of the cruise based on Mrs. Wachhaus’ disabilities.

On or about December 11, 2017, one day after returning from the cruise, Mr. Wachhaus emailed a complaint to VRC, and asked to be contacted by Guest Relations.

Mr. Wachhaus later received a phone call from Steve Winters in Guest Relations who explained that he spoke with “the involved people”. Mr. Winters verified the
confiscation of the scooter and apologized. For the discriminatory act of confiscation, Defendants only offered $500.00 cash back, along with two (2) vouchers for $500.00 on a future Viking cruise. The cost of the 50th wedding anniversary cruise they purchased, including ancillary expenses e.g. parking etc., was approximately $9,600.00.

This discriminatory event caused emotional harm and degradation to Mr. & Mrs. Wachhaus who were trying to enjoy the cruise on the Viking Sky for their 50th wedding anniversary.

Prior to this cruise on Viking, Plaintiffs have been on approximately fifteen (15) other cruises. After the discriminatory event by the Defendants in November 2017, Plaintiffs have been on approximately seven (7) other cruises. Mrs. Wachhaus’ scooter has never been confiscated by any other cruise line. Due to their extensive cruise history, Plaintiffs would like to book a future cruise with Viking, and be accommodated.

Although not legally required to do so, in good faith Plaintiffs attempted to rectify this matter prior to filing this Complaint . . .”

Violations of Florida Civil Rights Act

All persons are entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, national origin, sex,
pregnancy, handicap, familial status, or religion. Fla. Stat. § 760.08.

The Florida Civil Rights Act affords protection to individuals who associate, or are the companions of persons with disabilities who have been denied services based on disability. Fla. Stat. § 760.08.

Viking Cruises violated the Florida Civil Rights Act by discriminating against the Plaintiffs with reckless disregard for their rights when they, knowingly and openly, confiscated Mrs. Wachhaus’ scooter, and then denied Plaintiffs’ affirmative requests to be accommodated.

About Viking Cruises

In 2013, Viking announced its ocean cruise division, Viking Ocean Cruises. Viking’s ocean cruise division began operating its first vessel, Viking Star, in 2015, with itineraries in Scandinavia, the British Isles, the Baltic and Mediterranean Sea. It was joined by the fleet’s second vessel, Viking Sea, in 2016;  and its third and fourth ships, Viking Sky and Viking Sun, in 2017.

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Video: Viking Oceans: Panama, Central America & Cuba Itinerary

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