A Florida federal court dismissed one cause of action in a passenger's lawsuit against a cruise line, but allowed two other causes of action to proceed. The plaintiff in Stewart-Patterson v. Celebrity Cruises, Inc. alleged that the cruise line was liable for her slip-and-fall accident aboard the ship, as well as for injuries caused by a doctor that ship personnel compelled her to see while the ship was docked in Colombia. The court dismissed one of the plaintiff’s two causes of action for premises liability, but denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss her cause of action for medical negligence.
The plaintiff allegedly slipped on a wet substance while descending a staircase aboard a cruise liner owned by Celebrity Cruises. She claimed in her lawsuit that the fall caused her to fracture her left ankle. She received treatment in the ship’s infirmary, but was sent ashore for an orthopedic consultation with a doctor in Colombia. She alleges that ship personnel told her she had to undergo the consultation in order to remain on the cruise. Her alternatives, she claims, were to sign a full release of liability with the cruise line or find another way home. The Colombian doctor allegedly misdiagnosed her injury, which aggravated her condition and caused further damage.
The plaintiff filed suit against Celebrity Cruises in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. She asserted three causes of action: a negligence claim based on premises liability; negligent mode of operation, claiming that the defendant breached a duty to repair the dangerous condition before an accident took place; and medical negligence, for what she characterized as the defendant’s poor choice of a doctor in Colombia. The defendant moved to dismiss the second and third causes of action, arguing that the negligent mode of operation claim was not recognized by admiralty law and was duplicative of her other negligence claim, and that it could not be held vicariously liable for the actions of the Colombian doctor.