Royal Caribbean Rape Lawsuit Allowed to Move Forward
A district court denied a minor teenager the right to pursue a case against Royal Caribbean after the girl was allegedly gang raped aboard one of their vessels. The district court ruled that under Rule 12(b)(6) the plaintiff had failed to establish that wrongdoing by Royal Caribbean was connected to her injuries. This is despite the fact that the girl alleges that, while she was still only 16 or 17, 12 or so men aboard the vessel fed her alcohol until she became barely cognizant of her surroundings and then led her to a cabin where they assaulted her.
There are two parts to this lawsuit that bear noting. First, was the illegal consumption of alcohol by a minor. The plaintiff alleges that the men who raped her purchased shots from the bar and that she was in eyeshot of employees of the bar, who failed to proof her, and security cameras.
The second part of the lawsuit is the rape itself. Can Royal Caribbean be held liable for a rape that occurs aboard their vessel? Since it is clear that Royal Caribbean is in the wrong for allowing the girl to drink alcohol illegally aboard their vessel, let’s discuss the second part of the lawsuit in more detail.
Sexual Assault is More Common on Ships than General Populations
Statistically, sexual assaults are the most common crime committed aboard cruise ships and a woman is more likely to be assaulted aboard a cruise ship than she would in her community. Community ties are a big factor. The people aboard cruise ships don’t know one another and if word spread about an assault, their reputation is less likely to be damaged.
A second consideration comes into play when jurisdiction is concerned. What country has the right to prosecute such cases? While American courts will hold American assailants accountable for actions aboard cruise ships, that may not be the case in other countries. Recently, an Italian 17-year-old had a case dismissed in a Spanish court after he allegedly raped a 14-year-old British girl.
A lawsuit filed against the cruise line would allege that the cruise ship failed to protect its passengers from a known threat. Since sexual assaults are more common aboard cruise ships than in the general population and because cruise ships present jurisdictional problems that may allow assailants to go free, cruise ships should warn passengers about the dangers of sexual assaults aboard their vessels and take precautions to mitigate those dangers. In the lawsuit mentioned above, they failed to do that.
Negligent security lawsuits, as this lawsuit would be, require that a plaintiff prove that a defendant either knew or should have known about a particular danger. Even without the allegation that the girl was fed alcohol while aboard the vessel, the case should have been allowed to go forward. Thankfully, the dismissal was overturned on appeal.
Talk to a Houston Maritime and Negligent Security Attorney
If you or someone you love has been attacked aboard a cruise ship or in your apartment, the Houston maritime accident attorneys at Livingston & Flowers, P.L.L.C. know how to hold the negligent party accountable. Talk to us today for a free consultation.