New Cruise Ship Case From Ninth Circuit – Gerald Samuels v. Holland American Line-USA Inc., et al.

New Ninth Circuit case involving a maritime tort claim against a cruise ship for injuries suffered during a port call. The case is Samuels v. Holland American Line-USA Inc., et al. and it can be found here. Facts: The plaintiff was injured during a port call to Cabo San Lucas. His injuries were caused by rough waves at a nearby beach. He brought a negligence claim against the cruise line for failure to warn him of the dangers. The trial court granted summary judgment to the cruise line. Analysis: On appeal, the plaintiff raised three issues. First, in granting the summary judgment motion, the trial court erred in excluding some of the plaintiff's evidence. [EEEK, a Daubert issue.] The second and third points challenged the factual findings and conclusions of law. After providing the black letter test for negligence, the court set out the particular duty owed in the maritime context: The degree of care considered reasonable in a particular circumstance depends upon the "extent to which the circumstances surrounding maritime travel are different from those encountered in daily life and involve more danger to the passenger." Rainey v. Paquet Cruises, Inc., 709 F.2d 169, 172 (2d Cir. 1983) (affirming the district court's dismissal of the complaint where the alleged dangerous condition-the stool over which the injured passenger tripped while dancing on the ship's dance floor-was "in no way peculiar to maritime travel" and where the cruise line had no actual or constructive notice that the stool in question was dangerous). Where the condition constituting the basis of the plaintiff's claim is not unique to the maritime context, a carrier must have "actual or constructive notice of the risk-creating condition" before it can be held liable. Keefe v. Bahama Cruise Line, Inc., 867 F.2d 1318, 1322 (11th Cir. 1989) (establishing this requirement in a slip-and-fall case aboard a cruise ship); Isbell v. Carnival Corp., 462 F. Supp. 2d 1232, 1237-38 (S.D. Fla.2006) (applying this standard for injuries that a passenger sustained while participating in an optional excursion in a rainforest). Because the excursion to the beach was not of a sort associated with "maritime travel" and because there was no evidence that the cruise line knew or should have known of the danger, the Ninth Circuit found summary judgment appropriate and affirmed.

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