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Victory for the Cruise Industry!

On July 25, 2014, in Lankford v. Carnival Corporation, 12-cv-24408-CMA, a case handled by Mase Lara, Federal District Court Judge Cecilia Altonaga denied class certification of a putative class of passengers claiming they suffered personal injuries from using hot tubs on Carnival’s cruise ships. The court held that the class action waiver provision found in the cruise ticket contract was enforceable to prevent the passengers from litigating their personal injury claims against Carnival as a class action. In so holding, the court stated that the class action waiver, which was reasonably communicated to the passengers, did not violate 46 U.S.C. § 30509 because the provision did not limit Carnival’s liability or infringe on the passenger’s right to trial. This is the first written order enforcing a cruise ticket class action waiver provision, and we expect this decision to serve as persuasive authority on this issue going forward.

The court also denied class certification because the former passengers failed to satisfy the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 requirements for class certification. The passengers sought to certify a class of passengers who in essence alleged personal injuries from use of the hot tubs. The court found the class definition too vague, and that a class would be unmanageable because Carnival could individually challenge each former passenger’s potential membership in the putative class based on whether or not they indeed had suffered personal injuries. Further, the proposed class failed to satisfy the predominance and superiority requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(3) as the proximate cause analysis for each former passengers’ alleged injury would predominate over any issues common to the class as a whole.

This order represents a victory for the cruise industry as a whole, highlighting the pitfalls of attempting to certify a class action in the personal injury context.

Download the PDF to view the complete order: DE 280-Order denying [244] Motion to Certify Class

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