A federal appeals court has overturned a lower court ruling and reinstated a personal injury lawsuit filed by a Carnival Corp. passenger who injured her legs and knees during a trip, and ruled that there was evidence that the company may have known of a dangerous condition on the ship.
Paulette Bunch injured her right leg and knee as she left the aerobics room and entered the gym on Carnival Corp.'s Glory cruise ship, according to Thursday's ruling from the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta Paulette Howard Bunch mot Carnival Corp., aka Carnival Cruise Line.
Ms. Bunch sued the Miami-based cruise council, claiming a negligence claim in the U.S. District Court in Miami. The lower court granted Carnival's summary judgment dismissing the case, on the ground that Bunch had not raised a real issue of substantive facts about Carnival's actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition.
The verdict was overturned with a unanimous three-judge appeal to the court panel. Mrs Bunch testified that even though she was aware of where she was going, she could not see the threshold because the stainless steel plate reflected the carpet and looked "flush to the floor, like an optical illusion."
Although no other person had tripped on the aerobics room threshold in the five years before her accident, Bunch pointed out that seven other passengers had tripped and fallen at various thresholds on other ships where there were also reflective stainless steel baseboards and Carnival had posted at least three warning signs urging passengers to look at their steps and also stripes.
The previous excursions and cases and warnings posted "are sufficient to show a real question of material facts about Carnival's actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition at the threshold of the aerobics room" on Mrs. Bunch's ship, appears from the decision of the Court of Appeal
While the district court had focused on differences in height and the transition to the other thresholds, Bunch's theory was based not only on the height of the aerobic space threshold, but on the "optical illusion" created by the stainless steel threshold, the judges said. ] The warnings and the stripe on the other thresholds "also raises the question of whether Carnival corrected a problem at the thresholds similar to" the problem of Mrs Bunch's ship, it said.
"Because there is a genuine material fact that Carnival has factual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition and even whether any danger was open and obvious, the district court erred in issued a summary judgment to Carnival on Bunch's negligence claim based on failure to warn and failure to remedy, "the panel said, opposing the lower court's decision and reconsideration of the case for further negotiation.
The appellant's attorney, John H. Hickey, of the Hickey Law Firm PA in Miami, said in a statement, "This is a decision that confirms the plain truth that cruise lines have over the years noticed that these raised thresholds trigger dangers.
"And there ̵
“Our client has undergone surgeries to essentially remove a large nerve in her leg that has left her with a foot fall, inability to control your foot. And she suffers from the chronic pain of these injuries.
Carnival's lawyers did not respond to a request for comment.