Former New York Justice asks if Cruise Line is Liable for Injuries Sustained when Passenger in Wheelchair Injures Another

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In this article, Hon. Thomas A. Dickerson tackles an interesting cruise related question: Cruise passenger in wheelchair slams into another passenger: Is cruise line liable?

Justice Dickerson’s write-up starts by giving a description of the incident:

“Plaintiffs allege that Ms. Santos was seated in the ship’s dining area when another passenger, who was being escorted in a wheelchair by a Norwegian employee, slammed into Ms. Santos, pinning her torso against the table she was seated at. Shortly thereafter, Ms. Santos was escorted to her cabin where she…began vomiting.”

This tragic event resulted in Santos’ eventual death, after she suffered medically negligent treatment for her injuries both onboard the cruise ship and in a hospital in Mexico.

Justice Dickerson’s article he cites the fact that the Plaintiff sued Norwegian Cruise Line, the company with which the victim was traveling, for negligence. Citing an affidavit by Norwegian’s Director of Passenger and Crew Claims, the company claimed that the injury to the victim occurred while the cruise ship was in international waters, and hence should have been filed under the Death on the High Seas Act. Norwegian used this claim in a motion to dismiss.

Norwegian’s motion to dismiss was denied because generally “at the motion to dismiss stage, the Court’s review is limited to the four corners of the complaint and may not consider matter outside the pleadings without converting the defendant’s motion into one for summary judgment.”

This is a really fascinating case and the cruise line’s attempt to have it dismissed and avoid their responsibility to their client (the victim) is not surprising.