The consumption of alcohol is common on cruise ships, but in excess the consequences can be deadly. A federal judge has found ‘ample evidence’ that Royal Caribbean Ltd. provided too much alcohol to a passenger who fell overboard from the cruise ship, Independence of the Seas, right before Christmas 2016.

The case will be decided by a jury as to whether Royal Caribbean is responsible for the death of a 22-year-old passenger from Omaha, Nebraska, who was a on a cruise with his parents when he fell overboard from the 12th deck around 2:00 a.m. The ship was returning from a 4-night Caribbean cruise which departed from Port Everglades, FL.

The order cited that Nathan Skokan was served at least 30 ounces of alcohol in the 12 hours before he died, “including six full-sized martinis at a martini-making class earlier in the day and at least seven vodkas, two vodkas mixed with Red Bull, and one cognac.” Skokan’s blood-alcohol level was at least 0.256 percent, which an expert testified “presented an extreme risk of harm.”

The order stated, “Even though eyewitnesses immediately notified cruise personnel that Nathan had fallen overboard from the 12th-floor deck,” the cruise line “did not lower the rescue boats until two hours after being notified; did not have its Rescue Team 2 ready for over an hour and a half after Rescue Team 1 was ready; and placed its crew members approximately 100 feet above the water during the night, without additional use of search-and-rescue techniques.”

Todd and Lisa Skokan, the parents of Nathan, filed suit against Royal Caribbean in U.S. District Court claiming that the cruise line was negligent in serving their son too much alcohol that day and night and failed to begin immediate search-and-rescue efforts after it was reported that he fell overboard. They claim they suffered emotional distress because the cruise line employees told the media and others that their son had intentionally fallen overboard.

The family is also alleging that the cruise employees kept them in their stateroom during the search-and-rescue efforts. They claim that the cruise employees went as far as posting a large guard outside of the room until the ship returned to port and are claiming false imprisonment.

As a response to their claims, Royal Caribbean filed a motion for summary judgment. However, the judge ruled that the plaintiffs had given enough evidence to outweigh Royal Caribbean’s argument that the family had no legal standing to bring the case.

The court also disagreed with Royal Caribbean’s argument that they conducted reasonable search-and-rescue efforts. The judge specifically noted that the rescue boats were not lowered until two hours after being notified that Skokan had fallen overboard.


If you have been injured on your cruise, on a wet and slippery deck, down a poorly lit staircase or steep gangway, in port on an excursion, or on a tender boat- it is important that you speak as soon as possible with a lawyer who specializes in personal injury claims against cruise lines. Most cruise lines, including Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Norwegian, MSC, Disney, Holland America, Princess, Costa, Regents Seven Seas and Oceania require that claims against them be pursued in a very specific place under very strict deadlines. Failure to comply with each individual cruise lines deadlines can result in a complete loss of any and all legal rights.

Aronfeld Trial Lawyers is a personal injury firm located in Miami, Florida since 1991. We have fought hard to hold cruise lines accountable when they put their profits ahead of passenger safety. We are available 24/7 and encourage you to contact us even if you are still on your cruise. The sooner we can begin our investigation and preservation of key evidence, such as the CCTV footage of your trip and fall, slip and fall, assault or other type of injury the more likely we will be able to understand and prove how the incident occurred. Remember, the cruise lines have the most aggressive and well-funded defense lawyers in the world- protecting their profits. You need an experienced legal advocate in your corner who will fight to obtain the compensation you deserve for lost wages, medical expenses, transportation reimbursement and pain and suffering. Call us today and speak with a cruise ship claims lawyer about your potential claim- toll free 1-866-597-4529, 305-441-0440, or by email. We are ready to help.