A jury will decide whether Royal Caribbean Cruises was negligent in the death of a 22-year-old passenger who went overboard from the 12th-level deck of the Independence of the Suns ship in the early morning of Dec. 22, 2016.
Todd and Lisa Skokan filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District court in Miami, Florida, alleging the ship’s employees served their son, Nathan, too much alcohol, delayed search-and-rescue efforts, caused the family emotional distress by suggesting their son committed suicide by intentionally jumping, and forced family members into their stateroom against their will during search-and-rescue efforts.
According to a witness, Nathan was intoxicated when he went to the ship’s exterior 12th floor deck with several other passengers. Someone jokingly suggested that they should jump overboard, pointing to the handrail. “Nathan pretended to throw himself up on the handrail, but when he went to sit on the handrail, he fell off the side,” the order noted. “One of the passengers testified that Nathan, seemingly intoxicated, lost his balance, slipped, and accidentally flipped over the ship’s railing.”
In an attempt to skirt the claims, Royal Caribbean filed a motion for summary judgment from U.S. District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga. But she denied cruise line’s efforts based on numerous points, adding that a jury should decide whether the company was responsible for the man’s wrongful death.
Altonaga noted that Nathan was served at least 30 ounces of alcohol in the 12 hours leading up to his death, “including six full-sized martinis at the martini-making class earlier in the day and at least seven vodkas, two vodkas mixed with Red Bull, and one cognac.”
She also agreed with the Skokans that the ship’s search-and-rescue efforts were inadequate, adding that it took Royal Caribbean personnel two hours to lower rescue boats after eyewitnesses reported to them that Nathan had fallen overboard.
Altonaga also refused to let Royal Caribbean off the hook for the emotional abuse or false imprisonment charges.
Lexis Legal News