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New Article Shines Light On Crew Sexual Assaults Aboard Cruise Ships


A recent article published by the Orlando Sentinel outlines one of the largest problems facing the cruise industry: Sexual assault. In cases where the sexual assault is committed by a passenger, issues related to liability can be difficult to tease out and are often not clear until after litigation has occurred. However, when the perpetrator is a crew member, issues related to liability are very easy to parse out. The cruise line is responsible.

Under the law, an employer or company is considered a single person. While most people understand corporate personhood as protecting corporations in cases where they disseminate false information, it also creates a situation where the corporation can be held liable for the conduct of any employee. This is known as vicarious liability and it’s directly related to corporate personhood.

Understanding cruise ship sexual assaults 

Without getting into specific cases, every employer has a duty of care to ensure that their employees are properly supervised and vetted. Further, every company that operates on an invitee basis has a duty of care to keep their customers safe. In fact, their duty of care is much higher than the duty of care of a homeowner who invites their friends over to hang out. So, when a sexual assault occurs and its committed by an employee of a company that invites others onto their premises for their financial benefit, the case is very likely to go the way of the plaintiff. The cruise line has very little room to defend the case.

That doesn’t mean that it’s smooth sailing for the victim. A victim of a sexual assault is now on a traumatizing premises that it can be difficult to escape. Further, the cruise line’s security personnel have an incentive to protect the company from liability. While the FBI now oversees some aspects of sexual assault allegations, it can be very difficult for victims to feel like they’re being heard. In some cases, it can be very difficult to hold the perpetrator responsible on criminal charges if they are not U.S. citizens.

Suffice it to say, every cruise line takes on a duty of care to keep their customers safe, vet their employees, and supervise employees. So, when a sexual assault is committed by an employee, the cruise line is always responsible. The one way they can get out of that liability black hole is by claiming the encounter was consensual and that the victim is essentially lying. That is a very difficult card to play in front of a jury, especially when the facts don’t support that claim. In most cases, the cruise line will fire the employee, attempt to ensure they are brought to justice in their home country, and pay the victim a fair settlement under seal to avoid the matter getting dragged out in the press.

Talk to a Florida Cruise Ship Liability Lawyer Today 

Halpern, Santos & Pinkert represent the interests of those injured aboard cruise ships. Call our Florida personal injury lawyers today to schedule a free consultation and we can begin discussing your lawsuit in specific detail.

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