Carnival Triumph Lawsuits Filed Over Cruise Ship Fire

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By: Irvin Jackson | Published: February 19th, 2013

A number of lawsuits are being filed on behalf of passengers who were on the horrific voyage of the Carnival Triumph, which lost power following a fire on the cruise ship.

One of the first Carnival Triumph lawsuits was filed by Cassie Terry in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida on February 15, describing the 3,000 passenger cruise ship as a floating toilet during the days after power was lost.

Terry was one of more than 3,000 passengers who were stranded for most of last week on the powerless cruise ship, which quickly became awash with sewage. Passengers report that they had to wait hours for food and water, and many were forced to move their beds outside on the deck despite the frigid night temperatures to escape the overpowering stench and stifling atmosphere in what was supposed to be a pleasure cruise.

Following the complaint filed by Terry, a Carnival Triumph class action lawsuit was filed in the same court on February 18, seeking to cover claims on behalf of all passengers.

Ship Described as “Floating Toilet”

“During the horrifying and excruciating tow back to the United States, the Vessel listed sharply several times, causing human waste to spill out of non-functioning toilets, flood across the Vessel’s floors and halls, and drip down the Vessel’s walls,” according to the complaint (PDF) filed by Terry.

The lawsuit indicates that passengers were “forced to endure unbearable and horrendous odors on the filthy and disabled Vessel, and wade through human feces in order to reach food lines where the wait was counted in hours, only to receive rations of spoiled food.”

Conditions were described as “a floating toilet, a floating Petri dish, a floating hell,” causing Terry to suffer risk of, or actual, physical injuries, mental anguish and exposure to unsafe, unsanitary and savage conditions. The lawsuit charges Carnival Cruise Lines with breach of maritime contract, negligence, negligent misrepresentation, and fraud.

Carnival Cruise Ship Fire Investigation to Last Months

The fire began on February 10, 2013, during the third day of a four-day voyage in the Gulf of Mexico. The fire disabled the vessel, leaving it adrift until it could be rescued by tug boats.

The massive vessel, weighing more than 100,000 tons, was slowly hauled back into port, not arriving in Mobile, Alabama until the night of February 14.

Investigators have tracked the fire back to a fuel line leak, but the investigation into the cause of the leak and the crew’s actions will likely take about six months.

This is not the first time the passengers of a Carnival cruise ship were stranded at sea in deplorable conditions. In 2010 3,300 passengers onboard the Carnival Splendor were also stranded at sea after a fire disabled that ship as well. Passengers told similar stories of toilets ceasing to function and having to eat Spam and Pop Tarts to survive on what was supposed to be a luxury cruise down the Mexican Riviera.

It is often difficult to successfully bring a lawsuit over cruise ship problems, as passengers are usually forced to sign a contract prohibiting class action lawsuits or claims for emotional distress if they want to take the cruise. In most cases, passengers’ only avenue to a successful claim is to show physical injury.

Photo Courtesy of Fifth World Art/Robert Neff via Flickr CC 2.0

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