When our Miami personal injury law firm sues one of the major cruise lines—like Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, or Norwegian—on behalf of a person who has been seriously injured on a cruise ship because of the cruise line’s carelessness, we must file the claim in federal court in Miami, Florida. One of the many reasons the cruise lines require that cases be filed in federal court rather than state court is that the rules of civil procedure are different and more complex, generally favoring the corporate defendant and not the individual claimant. Imagine a rule in the NFL that applies only to the home team.
One of the most glaring examples of this lopsided justice is Rule 68 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the rules that govern cruise ship passenger litigation. Rule 68 is available only to the defendant cruise lines, and it allows them to make an offer of a certain amount of money to the injured cruise ship passenger before a trial. A passenger who does not obtain a verdict or judgment in excess of that amount will be subject to paying or reimbursing the cruise line for its costs of defense, attorneys’ fees, and interest. The intent of this rule is to put added pressure on the injured passenger to accept whatever offer the cruise line is making—reminding me of the classic line in The Godfather movie when Don Corleone suggests that he is going to “make him an offer he can’t refuse.”
There is no similar rule available to the plaintiff. Rather, Rule 68 simply serves to intimidate and strong-arm plaintiffs who have the conviction and fortitude to take on one of the largest, richest, and most powerful corporations in the history of mankind and attempt to hold it accountable for not providing them reasonable care under the circumstances, leading to a serious and permanent changes in their quality of life.
I have been practicing law for over 25 years, and I am astonished that there exists a rule of procedure that serves to protect only one side of the litigation, the defendant. I think this rule is typical of the Rules of Federal Civil Procedure—especially as they apply to claims for passenger injuries that occur on cruise ships—rules which seem to erect inherent hurdles and minefields that serve only to protect the deep pockets of the cruise industry at the expense of people.
Why and how could Rule 68 have been approved? The Rules are designed to create a uniform, fair, and low-cost means of resolving disputes in Federal Court. Since their inception in 1938, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure have been designed by a committee over years of litigation and then have to be approved or vetoed by congress. They are amended infrequently, but have been revised several times, notably in 1948, 1963, 1966, 1970, 1980, 1983, 1987, 1993, 2000, and 2006. Tiny tweaks to deadlines are made almost every year, including three modifications to the Rules which went into effect December 1, 2016.
Suing a Cruise Line in Florida Federal Court
If you are injured on a cruise ship anywhere in the world and seek to bring a claim, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure will most likely apply to your case, which is why we recommend that you consult and retain an experienced federal court-admitted lawyer to represent you in your case. Lawsuits against the cruise industry are difficult, complex, and framed by lopsided rules designed to make it increasingly difficult for the injured to obtain fair and reasonable money to compensate them for their injuries, pain and suffering, time missed from work, transportation expenses, and medical bills.
If you have been hurt while on a cruise ship, we offer free initial and confidential consultations with one of our personal injury attorneys in Miami, via telephone at 305-441-0440 or, toll free at 1-866-597-4529, email [email protected], SKYPE, or FACETIME. We will answer your questions and help you investigate and evaluate your potential claim. Call us today—we are ready to help you hold the cruise line accountable.