Port Everglades is one of the world’s busiest and most successful cruise ship ports. Located just south of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, technically it borders the municipalities of Hollywood, Fort Lauderdale, and Dania Beach, just a short taxi ride from Fort Lauderdale Airport.
When Port Everglades opened in 1928, it was considered an important seaport for South Florida’s then burgeoning agricultural industry. Over the last nearly 100 years, it has evolved into a major commercial container ship and passenger cruise ship port.
Port Everglades processed over 4 million passengers in 2014, which is over 120,000 people a day. Since 2003, Port Everglades has held the record among world ports for most cruise ships docked in a single day, with 15 different cruise ships having docked there one day that year. The Port of Barcelona, Spain, nearly beat it in 2011 when it hosted 9 ships. In third place is the Port of Miami, which is located about 45 minutes south down I-95, when it recorded its record number of passenger ships in 2011 with 8 dockings.
Port Everglades serves as a port for 15 different cruise lines, most notably Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Carnival, Holland America, and Princess. A few niche super luxury cruise lines also avail themselves of Port Everglades, such as Silversea and Seabourn. With such a heavy volume of passengers, it should come as no surprise that troubling incidents involving those passengers do occur from time to time.
Virginity for a Keychain
It appears that on August 17th just such an incident occurred. According to the Sun Sentinel, a 13-year-old passenger was attacked onboard the RCCL cruise ship Independence of the Seas by a fellow passenger, an Ohio man, who claimed that the child had offered to purchase the virginity of his niece in exchange for a keychain.
The suspect, Arturo Martinez, Jr., 30, of Toledo, Ohio, was arrested by Broward County Sherriff’s as soon as the ship docked at Port Everglades. Martinez also took off his own shirt, the boy said, as if preparing to fight. He then grabbed the boy by the throat and forced the boy face-down onto a couch, investigators said.
The boy has since identified Mr. Martinez from a photographic lineup, and detectives have already viewed the ship’s CCTV surveillance video, which corroborates the victim’s story. Mr. Martinez now faces criminal charges of child abuse without great bodily harm, assault, battery, and false imprisonment of a child. His bond is set at $17,100.
When criminal batteries and sexual attacks befall passengers on cruise ships, it is important not only to preserve the evidence for the criminal prosecution of the attacker, but also to analyze the potential civil liability for the cruise line.
Legal Duty to Protect
Cruise lines like Royal Caribbean have a legal duty to protect their passengers from harm, which includes physical attacks by crew members, other passengers, and third parties.
Not all passenger assaults are preventable or foreseeable. Sadly, many parents let down their guard when on cruise vacations, and allow their children to roam the ships unsupervised, mistakenly believing that cruise ships are safer than everyday life wherever in the world they may be from. In reality, cruise ships are essentially floating international cities, with passengers, crew members, and others from around the world roaming the bars, pools, libraries, and hallways at all hours of the day and night.
I have investigated dozens of passenger assault cases, including many involving minors. Inevitably the injuries occur outside the watchful eye of adult supervision. I have not seen the evidence in this particular incident, but it would be important to know how long the altercation lasted and what RCCL knew, or should have known about it, in order to have foreseen and prevented this tragedy. For instance, it is very important to know how many security personnel the ship had on staff and on duty at the time of this incident.
Consult with an Experienced Cruise Ship Accident Lawyer Today
If you have been injured aboard an RCCL cruise ship or on other cruise line, it is important to consult immediately with an experienced cruise ship assault and battery attorney. Evidence such as the CCTV footage, witness statements, and medical records is crucial in understanding how or if the cruise line can be held accountable for failing to protect and provide adequate security for its passengers.
We offer free initial consultations to anyone who has a potential claim against RCCL or any other cruise line, via email, telephone toll free at 1-866-597-4529, or SKYPE. Contact us today to speak to an experienced lawyer who knows how to hold the cruise lines accountable when they put their profits ahead of their passengers’ safety.