09 Mar Jury Awards Cruise Line Passenger Over One Million Dollars for Trip and Fall
Trip and Fall Costly for Costa
Christmas Eve, 2014.
Joyce Higgs, from Michigan, was enjoying a leisurely cruise with her family on board the Costa Luminosa. While walking back from the buffet line to her daughter’s dining table, she tripped and fell over a mop bucket, fracturing her shoulder and arm. Costa Cruise Lines, a subsidiary of Carnival, provides in its ticket contract that any personal injury lawsuit related to a Costa Cruise departing from, returning to or visiting a U.S. Port, must be filed in Broward County, Florida.
She alleged in her lawsuit that the crew negligently left the bucket in the middle of the dining hall. Costa defended the allegations by claiming that there was no proof of what she fell on and that she failed to look where she was going. The cruise line also argued that due to Higgs’ unnatural gait, she was prone to tripping. At the summary judgment phase, United States District Court Judge James Cohn disregarded Costa’s arguments, as he noted there was an eyewitness to the fall and the Plaintiff provided a marine safety expert that identified the need for a yellow caution sign around the bucket.
Prior to trial, the parties mediated the matter to an impasse, since Costa offered only $40,000 to settle the claim. The case eventually proceeded to trial, and after four days, the jury agreed with Higgs finding Costa Cruise Lines negligent. The jury awarded Higgs $800,000 for future damages, $500,000 for past damages, and $16,000 for her past medical expenses incurred. The Court then reduced the award by 15 percent since the jury did find Higgs 15 percent liable for the fall. Ultimately, the award totaled approximately $1.1 million dollars.
If you or a loved one have slipped, tripped or fallen and suffered an injury on a cruise, it is imperative to contact an experienced maritime personal injury attorney immediately. For a free consultation and case evaluation call the Law Offices of Brandon L. Chase, P.A. at our Miami office (305) 677-2228, toll-free (877) 84-CHASE (24273) or contact us online.