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Recent State Supreme Court Decision Covers What Is Necessary to Bring a Personal Injury Suit Against a Cruise Ship Company

Cruise ship news have made national headlines yet again with another round of suspected norovirus on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship, Explorer of the Seas. The cruise was cut short after hundreds became sick with gastrointestinal illness, and highlighted the impact a virus can have on ship passengers. In the shadow of this cruise vessel outbreak, a state Supreme Court decision was published that discussed some of the basic requirements of who can file suit, a term known in law as "standing". Whether you're in Washington or in any other state in the nation, if someone wishes to file suit, you must have standing - the right to challenge the conduct of another person or entity in a court.

In a maritime personal injury action, a suit will be successful if the injured party can show that the at-fault party owed them a duty, that the at-fault party failed in that duty, and that the injury resulted because of that failure. Proof of the damages, or the costs incurred to make the injured party whole again, must also be shown during the litigation. In the South Carolina Supreme Court decision, Carnival Corporation v. Historic Ansonborough Neighborhood, four Charleston citizens' groups filed suit against Carnival Cruise Line for what they alleged to be unlawful use of the terminal for the cruise ship, Fantasy. The Court looked to the guiding statutes and case law in that state and delineated the three elements that must be presented to have proper standing: that the plaintiff have an injury that is concrete, particularized, and actual or imminent invasion of a legally protected interested; that a casual connection must exist between the injury and the challenged conduct, and that a favorable decision will redress the injury.

The Court agreed with the cruise line that the plaintiffs in this suit only alleged how the general public was affected, and failed to show any particularized harm to a legally protected interest. The court asserted that the alleged injury must be one that affects the person or persons filing suit in a personal and individualized way. The Court listed all the allegations that the groups listed against the cruise line, including crowds and pollution, visual disruption of the historic skyline, and noise pollution; and determined that the alleged injuries were not individualized or particular enough to provide legal standing to the plaintiffs.

This case features considerations that must be made when deciding to file suit. The Washington cruise ship accident attorneys, Gordon Webb and John Merriam, have the necessary experience in both ship work and maritime law to successfully litigate and negotiate your personal injury action. Cruise ship companies owe their passengers the duty to provide reasonable care under the circumstances, but often fall short of that obligation. If you have had an accident or experienced an illness or injury while working or sailing onboard a cruise ship, contact our office today for a free, confidential consultation at 877.800.1007.

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