Pasquale Vaglio Suit for vacation on Royal Caribbean Cruise Line’s Explorer of the Sea.

 

Pasquale Vaglio Suit for vacation on Royal Caribbean Cruise Line’s Explorer of the Sea.

 

The idea of the cruise ship vacation has allowed many to trade in their fears of the open sea for sombreros and drinks served in pineapples. Even with recent tragedies such as the Costa Concordia incident and outbreaks of illnesses onboard these luxury liners, cruise ships continue to be an incredibly popular mode of vacationing. Still, vacations at sea are not immune from the same perils of any other vacation. Nothing can ruin a vacation like getting sick right in the middle of it. The difference between being sick at sea and sick on dry land, for a long time, has been the medical treatment you receive; more specifically, the standards that your doctor-away-from-home will be held to in a court of law. Historically cruise lines and the doctors they employ on-board have been immune from traditional medical malpractice lawsuits. Any other vacation-time doctor would not be protected by this same immunity. Just this past week, however, the standard was heightened.

 

The Plaintiffs

 

An elderly passenger named Pasquale Vaglio and his wife took a vacation on Royal Caribbean Cruise Line’s Explorer of the Sea. Mr. Vaglio fell while he was attempting to board a trolley near the cruise ship dock. He hit his head and was taken back to the ship by wheelchair. As any injured person on-board a cruise ship would do, he visited the ship’s infirmary. The nurse there told Mrs. Vaglio that Mr. Vaglio could return to their cabin but that Mrs. Vaglio should keep an eye on him. According to his family members, there were no tests done on the 82-year-old New York resident. Mr. Vaglio’s condition worsened and he slipped into a coma. Despite being flown to Winthrop University in Mineola, New York, Mr. Vaglio did not recover from his blow to the head. One week later he died.

 

 

The Lawsuit

 

Cruise lines and their employees have been protected for years from any lawsuit that threatened to hold them accountable for negligent medical care. This did not deter the Vaglio’s daughter from filing suit against Royal Caribbean Cruise Line for their employees’ failure to properly treat her father. His daughter filed a wrongful death suit against the cruise line alleging that her father’s death was caused by their medical provider’s failure to diagnose the cranial trauma he suffered. The suit was first brought in Miami, Florida and filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

 

The Ruling

 

The Honorable Joan A. Lenard oversaw the trial court and dismissed Ms. Vaglio’s complaint, the judge’s rationale being that historically maritime law protects cruise lines in situations exactly like the one Ms. Vaglio sought to hold them accountable for. Under traditional law, employers are liable for employees conduct under a doctrine known as respondeat superior. Ms. Vaglio was still not deterred and proceeded to appeal her claim. The appellate court found that traditional principles of medical malpractice, agency law, and personal injury were in direct conflict with continuing to insulate cruise lines from their employees’ negligence. Thus, he ruled that cruise lines could be held responsible for this type of negligent behavior.

 

At Brownstone Law we believe in the power of appellate review and are pleased to see that victims of negligence are protected wherever they enjoy their leisure time.

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