Eleventh Circuit Affirms Defense Verdict in Fight Case

Gould v. Carnival Cruise Lines

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the defense trial verdict entered on behalf of Carnival obtained by the trial team from Mase Mebane Seitz, which was led by Curtis J. Mase and William Seitz.
In Gould, the Plaintiff claimed that she was injured while she was reboarding the ship in Nassau. She was getting onto the gangway when two passengers got into an altercation in front of her. One of the passengers knocked Plaintiff off of the gangway to the pier below. She hit her head and claimed a traumatic brain injury. Plaintiff alleged that Carnival failed to adequately monitor the pier and gangway, and that it failed to provide adequate security. She asserted that Carnival had notice of the violent propensity of the two passengers because they were involved in a previous altercation on the pier before they got onto the gangway. In a 67-page Order, the District Court wholeheartedly disagreed with Plaintiff and entered a verdict in favor of Carnival on all counts. The Court found multiple reasons why Plaintiff’s claims failed. Of note, it found that a cruise line does not have a duty to monitor the pier in a foreign port. It also narrowly defined the risk creating condition. In this case, the Court found the risk creating condition to be only the specific passengers involved in the fight, not the general risk of passengers getting in a fight.
The decision helps limit cruise lines’ duties for incidents that occur off the ship, including on the pier. It also continues the Eleventh Circuit’s trend of more narrowly defining the risk creating condition in fight cases – the passengers themselves, not the propensity for fights overall.
Gould v. Carnival Corp., Case No. 19-cv-20289-JG, (S.D. Fla. Sept. 2021), affirmed Gould v. Carnival Corp., Case No. 21-13308 (11th Cir. 2022).