Norwegian Cruise Lines was sued by a female passenger who alleged that she was over-served alcohol by an NCL bartender aboard the NCL’s Norwegian Sky and then lured into an isolated “crew-only” storage room, where she was sexually assaulted.  

She became unconscious and awoke on the ground floor of deck 11. She was taken to the medical center, where she was examined and her clothing removed and kept by NCL as evidence. No rape kit was administered. Subsequently, NCL was able to identify the accused bartender.

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The passenger was taken by NCL security guards back to the room where she claimed to have been assaulted. The door slammed, and she was left alone in the room for approximately five minutes.  

Based upon those allegations, she filed a lawsuit against Norwegian Cruise Lines, claiming the following:

(Count I) Negligent hiring, retention, training, and supervision

(Count II) False imprisonment

(Count III) Sexual assault, sexual battery, and rape.

NCL then sought to dismiss the negligent hiring, retention, training, and supervision counts, arguing that her complaint did not contain sufficient facts to justify the lawsuit.

In order to sue Norwegian Cruise Line for negligent retention or hiring, one must allege (1) that the crewmember was “incompetent or unfit to perform the work”; (2) that NCL knew or reasonably should have known of the particular incompetence or unfitness; and (3) the incompetence or unfitness was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.

NCL successfully argued that the complaint had not “identified [by name] the specific crewmember that she alleges Norwegian was negligent in hiring/retaining” and also did not allege facts to plausibly show that the unnamed bartender was incompetent or unfit to perform his job.

As for the second element, NCL argued that her allegations were stated only in a “conclusory fashion,” that “all male crew and/or officers” were negligently hired or retained because these crewmembers were hired from “underdeveloped countries or from countries where the economics are bleak and the unemployment rates are high” and, therefore, necessarily “pose a danger to female passengers.” Moreover, she failed to allege any “factual information which would support the proximate-cause element of the negligent hiring/retention claim.”

The passenger responded by arguing that NCL had failed to . . .

(1) enforce non-fraternization policies that resulted in the sexual assault and battery of Plaintiff;

(2) control and supervise its crew;

(3) provide a “reasonably safe environment for its passengers on the M/V Norwegian Sky and to protect passengers from sexual assault, battery, and rape by its crew members;” and

(4) warn its passengers that crew members may represent a danger to female passengers.

Alternatively, she argued the bartender was unfit because (1) he “singled her out and preyed on her, plied her with alcohol, held her in a storage room against her will, and sexually assaulted her,” and that (2) NCL knew or should have known of the possibility that the bartender would sexually assault or rape her; and (3) NCL’s negligence directly caused her injury.

The case was filed in Federal Court in Miami, and the judge agreed with NCL’s arguments and dismissed the case–specifically since she had failed to allege “specific facts” to support her claim that NCL knew or should have known of the crew member’s incompetence or unfitness to work on the ship.  The Court has allowed her to refile the claim by November 4, 2016, but the opinion made it clear that the Court doubts that she will be able to cure the deficiencies in the pleadings.

Her rape and false imprisonment claims survived the dismissal, and NCL will have to file its response to those allegations by November 18, 2016.

This case illustrates the complex legal hurdles an injured passenger must overcome simply to get the claim to a jury.  We do not represent this lady, but we wish her the very best in her continued efforts to obtain justice for this very tragic and unforgivable incident.

Norwegian Cruise Line Accident Attorney

Since 1991, our personal injury law firm in Miami has passionately and zealously represented people from around the world who have been injured while on a cruise.  We investigate hundreds of cases such as Norwegian Cruise Line accidents every year on behalf of passengers who have slipped, tripped, and fallen, as well as victims of sexual assault. If you have been hurt aboard a cruise ship–whether Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Celebrity, Holland America, Princess, Disney, or any other–contact our office today for a free initial legal consultation with an experienced cruise ship injury attorney. Call us toll free at 1-866-597-4529 or at 305-441-0440, or reach us by email at [email protected] or SKYPE.  We are ready to help you obtain fair compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering.