Sexual Assaults on Cruise Ships a Growing Problem
We all think of cruise lines as an ultimate vacation experience where we can escape from the stresses of everyday life to enjoy a seaside voyage. Most of the time we only consider things like falling overboard and perhaps a little too much sun as the only threats we face on a cruise line but there are actually some truly horrible things that can occur. Many people actually experience sexual assault and rape while onboard a cruise ship. One such girl was actually gang-raped by several men while aged only fifteen back in 2015. After several years, that teenage girl that was brutally gang-raped has finally been given another opportunity to take legal action against those whose negligence contributed to the horrible event occurring.
The young woman that goes by the name of K.T. has elected to withhold her full name in order to maintain her privacy. She had boarded the Royal Caribbean cruise liner Oasis of the Seas with her two sisters and grandparents in 2015 for vacation. K.T. at one point ended up becoming separated from her family and was given alcohol by a large group of male passengers in the ship’s lounge until she became intoxicated. Once she was drunk the men took her to a cabin where around twelve adult men raped her.
The K.T. vs. Royal Caribbean Civil Lawsuit
After the incident, a civil lawsuit was eventually filed against Royal Caribbean Cruise lines where it was alleged that their negligence enabled the gangrape of K.T. to occur under their watch. The lawsuit claims that several staff members witnessed the men buying alcohol for the obviously underage girl and did nothing to intervene with the clearly problematic situation and as a result, K.T. suffered a brutal gangrape.
In response, Royal Caribbean maintains that they did not breach any duty of care that they owed to K.T. and that her injuries are not the result of any proximate breach on their part. A federal judge saw things this way as well and ruled to dismiss the case.
Successful Appeal of the Sexual Assault and Rape Lawsuit
The plaintiff later appealed their case and a three-judge panel of the eleventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the lower court’s decision to dismiss the case that was filed in the Southern District of Florida. Now K.T. has another opportunity to seek restitution for the terrible things that were done to her.
The ruling by Chief Judge Ed Carnes and joined by judges Robin Rosenbaum and Frank Hull states “In sum, the complaint has sufficiently alleged that because Royal Caribbean’s crew members did nothing to prevent the large group of men from plying K.T. with enough alcohol to incapacitate her and did nothing to stop those men from leading her away to a private cabin, Royal Caribbean breached the duty of ordinary care it owed her…And it is self-evident from the allegations of the complaint that but for Royal Caribbean’s breach of its duties of care to K.T. she would not have been brutalized and gang-raped. If the allegations are true, Royal Caribbean proximately caused the alleged injuries. The complaint states a claim against Royal Caribbean.”
Instances of Sexual Assault on Cruise Ships
Cruise ships are essentially miniature floating cities with around ten thousand people. There is ship security to handle some matters but ultimately there are no real police to enforce the law which means some terrible things can occur. Sexual assault on cruise ships is not something that stops with K.T. and Royal Caribbean but has occurred in the past and will occur in the future when proper steps are not taken to ensure the safety of passengers.
Cruise ships have a duty of care to their passengers to provide a safe environment in which they do not have to fear things such as gangrape. At least within reason. In the case of K.T. if the men had simply spirited the girl away to a room with no way for those working for the cruise to know then it would be much more difficult to hold them liable for such a crime occurring. It turns out that sexual assault is actually the most highly reported crime on board cruise ships. Since 2016, 220 sexual assaults aboard cruise ships have been reported to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).
Those that suffer sexual assault aboard cruise ships like K.T. deserve the opportunity to take legal action against those responsible for the damages they suffered as a result. Third-party liability gives those placed in this position the ability to do just that with a civil lawsuit.
Seek an Experienced Maritime and Sexual Assault Attorney
The horrible truth is that sexual assault and rape occur aboard cruise ships and at vacation hotspots. What is meant to be a peaceful and retreat can become emotionally, physically and psychologically distressing experience. Victims of sexual assault while abroad a cruise ship can use the courts to hold those who failed to prevent the assault financially accountable. Cruise lines are required to protect their passengers from attack by their hired staff. Even if a cruise line did not have an opportunity to prevent the attack, or was unaware of a staff member’s propensity for violence, the cruise line is strictly liable for the assault. Furthermore, the cruise line may also be liable for an assault by another passenger if the ship knew of a risk creating condition and failed to warn the passengers.
The lawyers at Dolman Law Group can help you file suit against the cruise line in order to win the compensation for medical treatment, pain and suffering, and other expenses you are entitled to receive. To contact Dolman Law Group about a free consultation on your claim, you can either fill out an online contact form or call our office at 727-451-6900.
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