Passengers of a transatlantic cruise from the United Kingdom to New York are suing the cruise operator for injuries that they sustained during a storm that created rough conditions on their ship. In 2006, the Athena left England for a 24-day journey to New York, New England, and Atlantic Canada. En route to North America, the ship encountered severe storms that tossed passengers violently, with one man dying after falling down a flight of stairs. Seventeen other passengers sustained injuries caused by the rough seas and are now seeking damages from the ship’s owners and operators, Classic International Cruises S.A and Arcalia Shipping Company Limited. It all leads to the logical question: Is anyone liable for these injuries?
The Plymouth Herald reports that lawyers for the passengers are arguing that the ship’s operators were negligent for operating the ship in such dangerous weather and failing to provide adequate warnings to passengers. Lawyers for the defense claim that the case should be dismissed because of the many delays that have occurred in bringing it to trial, noting that some witnesses will be unavailable. It has been six years since the cruise’s disastrous voyage.
Such claims of weather-related negligence are not limited to cruises. In 2011, a woman sued Continental Airlines after severe turbulence on a flight led her to be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. She claimed that she subsequently suffered from nightmares, flashbacks, and an intense fear of flying. Other claims of injuries being caused by turbulence have been thrown out of courts because “acts of God” do not make airlines liable for injuries sustained to passengers.
However, arguments can be made that those in charge of commercial planes and ships do have a responsibility to provide adequate warnings to passengers in times of danger. Should the Athena’s captain have been more proactive in alerting passengers to the incoming weather and the perils that it could create?
Have you ever been on a cruise during a violent storm? Do you think that the cruise operator is at fault in this case? Share your thoughts in the comments.