Carnival cruise passengers sue seeking $5,000 a month for life
By David Quiñones
MIAMI, March 10 (Reuters) - A group of passengers suing Carnival cruise lines for damages after an engine fire left their ship adrift for days are asking the company to pay $5,000 a month for the rest of their lives for medical bills and mental anguish.
A lawsuit brought by 33 passengers of the ill-fated 2013 voyage could change how cruise lines insulate themselves from legal actions, according to maritime legal experts.
A second pending lawsuit with three-times as many plaintiffs has the potential to further undo the advantageous legal position cruise lines have long enjoyed.
Both cases stem from a February 2013 incident when the Carnival Triumph broke down after launching from Galveston, Texas for what was to be a four-day cruise with a stop in Cozumel, Mexico.
A fire broke out in the ship's engine room as it was returning from Cozumel. The Triumph was left without engine power, or air conditioning and working toilets. Stalled in the Gulf of Mexico for five days, passengers described human waste seeping into hallways, and being forced to sleep on deck under makeshift tarps with no cooked food.
A federal judge in South Florida last week finished hearing three weeks of testimony from passengers and is expected to issue a judgment in the next two months.
The Miami lawsuit is the first from the Triumph incident to go to trial, with others in preparation, according maritime lawyers.
In a statement, Carnival Corp said that while it recognizes its guests experienced uncomfortable conditions, everyone returned safely and were provided with a full refund, a free future cruise and an additional $500 per person. Continuación...