A sure-fire way to destroy a potential cruise ship accident lawsuit against a cruise line like Carnival is to lie—intentionally falsely testify in a frivolous lawsuit. When lawyers prepare injured passengers in advance of giving a deposition, signing an interrogatory, or taking the witness stand, it is important that they explain how cruise-line defense lawyers are looking to see if the testimony given is clearly in bad faith. If it is, they will certainly run to the courthouse and try to have the entire case dismissed.
Following the Carnival Triumph disaster, Carnival sought to have a case dismissed that was brought by a passenger who claimed he became severely dehydrated because of the lack of available drinkable water and developed a kidney stone. We did not represent this plaintiff, but Carnival used the testimony he gave, along with that of his seventy-something parents, to demonstrate that there were significant conflicts in the testimony, which Carnival believed were tantamount to perjury.
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The United States District Judge Donald L. Graham referred Carnival’s sanction motion to the Federal Magistrate Jonathan Goodman, who conducted an evidentiary hearing—essentially a trial within a trial to determine if the plaintiff had committed perjury that warranted the total dismissal of his case. Fortunately for the plaintiff, Magistrate Goodman did not find that the inconsistencies in testimony established intentional perjury or constituted “a bad-faith tactic to deceive Carnival” or the Court. Rather, they were simply “garden-variety inconsistencies,” which are typical in most lawsuits.
The case illustrates the importance of providing honest and consistent testimony since a defendant cruise line will not hesitate to try to get an entire claim dismissed if it senses that the testimony has been given in bad faith or is perjury.
Federal courts have the power to dismiss a lawsuit as a sanction for lying, and the key to invoking this power is a finding of bad-faith conduct, that the case lacks any arguable merit, and is otherwise groundless. In the Eleventh Circuit, which governs the majority of cruise ship litigation in this country, “false statements alone do not indicate bad faith. Without a ‘smoking-gun’ statement from the plaintiff, i.e., ‘I know my claim is frivolous and I am pursuing this claim to harass the defendants’,” the most common case of dismissal for fraud occurs when the perpetrator of the false testimony actually admits to the perjury.
For these reasons and many others, we strongly recommend that anyone who has been injured while on a cruise consult with an experienced maritime personal injury lawyer. It is important to select a lawyer who is familiar with the complex law that applies to maritime personal injury cases, as well as the Federal Court in Miami, which has its own local rules, in addition to the Federal Rules of Evidence and Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Suing Carnival Cruise Line
Our law firm has focused on the legal rights of cruise ship passengers since 1991 and has over 20 years of experience suing Carnival Cruise Line. If you have slipped and fallen, tripped and fallen, or suffered another type of personal injury on a cruise ship, call us today and speak with an experienced accident lawyer, toll-free at 1-866-597-4529 or at 305-441-0440, by email at [email protected], or on SKYPE. Remember, the majority of cruise lines require claims to be filed within one year of the date of the incident. The sooner we can start our investigation, the more likely it is that we can succeed in helping you obtain fair compensation for your pain and suffering, lost wages, medical expenses, and loss of the enjoyment of your cruise. We are ready to help you.