Civil Lawsuits Filed After Sexual Assault on Miami Cruise Ship

Cruise vacations deliver memories for a lifetime, but once in a while, stories hit the headlines regarding onboard incidents that are truly shocking. In a recent news report, two women have filed lawsuits alleging sexual assault by a Margaritaville at Sea cruise ship bartender who had been serving them. The crew member stole one victim’s room key that she had used to charge drinks. Later, he entered the cabin after the two victims were asleep, raping both of them. One of the women became pregnant because of the encounter. 

The crew member pled guilty to criminal charges following the incident, while the recently filed civil lawsuits seek damages against the Margaritaville cruise line. A Miami cruise ship accident lawyer can provide details on passengers’ rights, as this horrific incident raises questions about liability for the cruise line in light of criminal activity.

Criminal Charges for Sexual Assault

The bartender was charged with sex crimes after the women reported the rapes to cruise officials and police, but he was offered a plea deal. In exchange for admitting guilt to lesser charges, he was given a lenient sentence. The crew member could be imprisoned for up to two years in South Florida.

The civil lawsuits filed by the two victims are separate cases from the criminal proceedings. Instead of punishment against the offender, the claims seek monetary damages from the Margaritaville cruise line.

Cruise Ship Duties to Passengers

Though the bartender was the actual assailant, cruise lines can be liable when a passenger is attacked or raped by one of their employees. These operators owe passengers a duty of care to ensure a safe trip, including protection from criminal activity. They also have an obligation to engage in reasonable care regarding employees, which may require:

  • Conducting background checks for criminal history;
  • Checking references; and,
  • Implementing appropriate supervision and training programs for crew-passenger interactions.

In addition, the legal duty of cruise lines includes an obligation to protect against sexual assault by other passengers.

Damages for Civil Sexual Assault Cases

When a cruise line is found negligent because it failed to protect passengers, a victim can recover a wide range of compensation. Damages are intended to make the victim whole and as if the incident never happened to the greatest extent possible. In a case involving sexual assault, it is possible to recover:

  • Medical expenses for treatment of physical injuries;
  • Costs of mental health care for victims of rape;
  • Lost wages, if you missed work;
  • Pain and suffering;
  • Scarring and disfigurement; and,
  • Emotional anguish and distress.

Discuss Options With a Miami Cruise Ship Accidents Attorney Right Away

Cruise lines owe a duty to keep passengers safe, so you have legal remedies if you were harmed because of negligence. These concepts apply to criminal acts, but liability also applies to accidents on board. Our team at Gerson & Schwartz, PA, can assist with the legal process, so please contact us to set up a no-cost case evaluation. A cruise ship accident lawyer can meet with you at our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach.

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