Carnival Cruise Line Didn't Give a Damn, Woman Overboard Says
MIAMI (CN) - After Carnival cruises got her so drunk she fell overboard, and eyewitnesses reported it, the captain refused to turn around the ship for 90 minutes, then refused to airlift her to hospital to treat her fractured bones, a woman claims in court.
Sarah Alexandra Badley Kirby sued Carnival Corp. and four people, including two doctors, in Federal Court.
Kirby says she was a paying passenger on the Carnival Destiny, which she describes as "a floating dram shop," for a cruise from Miami to Jamaica. With her on Oct. 21, 2012, were her fiancé and her friend Rebecca.
She claims a bartender at one of the ship's bars got her smashed on Long Island iced teas, which he "kept pushing on the plaintiff."
"Moreover, to encourage the plaintiff and her companions to buy more Long Island iced teas, the Carnival bartender offered them free $5 coupons for the ship's casino. The more drinks they purchased, the more free coupons the Carnival bartender offered the plaintiff and her companions," the complaint states.
Kirby says she became "extremely intoxicated," then "returned to her cabin with her friend Rebecca."
The complaint continues: "At approximately 12:10 am, the plaintiff stepped out to the cabin balcony to get some air. As she was holding on to the balcony's wooden banister, the plaintiff lost her grip and balance, slipped off the ground and fell overboard into the ocean. As she fell from the balcony, which was seven stories high (approximately 100 feet), the plaintiff fell onto a life raft, and after hitting the life raft, fell 5 more stories into the water. As a result, plaintiff suffered severe injuries, including: fractured orbital bones, lung contusions, hypothermia, fractured ribs, dissection of the carotid artery, heart arrhythmia, broken optical shelves, blood clots in her eyes, arms, and legs, as well as extreme hematomas all over her body.
"The plaintiff fell in the water without a life jacket or a life preserver. After a few minutes, the cruise ship speed away, until it disappeared in the horizon, leaving the plaintiff alone in the middle of the ocean."
Kirby says she swam to exhaustion, then floated face-up, swallowing and coughing up water from the waves that "would crash into her face." She "believed that her death was imminent," from drowning or sharks.
"Rebecca, the plaintiff's friend, immediately noticed that the plaintiff had fallen overboard," the complaint states. "Moreover, people in different parts of the ship either saw and/or heard the plaintiff fall into the ocean.
"Both Rebecca and the other passengers who witnessed the fall, immediately notified several Carnival staff members that the plaintiff had fallen overboard. Rebecca and the plaintiff's fiancé repeatedly demanded the cruise ship staff to stop the ship. Their request, however, was summarily denied. Instead, the cruise ship staff explained that they were not going to stop the vessel, until they first searched the ship. The cruise ship staff also explained that they were 'following standard procedure.'
"Rebecca and the plaintiff's fiancé were then escorted to the Captain's quarters and/or offices. There, over the next 90 minutes (while the ship was still moving) they were questioned by the ship's security staff and the ship's officers regarding the incident. Rebecca and the plaintiff's fiancé repeated their story several times, and again demanded several times that the ship be stopped immediately. Once again, however, their request was denied, and the ship's officers insisted they were not going to stop the vessel until they first searched the ship.
"At approximately 1:45 a.m., while the ship was still moving (and the plaintiff had been in the water for over one hour and thirty minutes), the ship's officers notified all passengers via intercom that they were going to turn around the ship to find the plaintiff." (Parentheses in complaint.)
The crew found her after she had spent nearly two hours in the ocean.
But "rather than treating her severe injuries, the Carnival doctors' treatment of the plaintiff was primarily limited to giving her pain medication," Kirby says.
She claims Carnival refused to airlift her to a hospital, but diverted the cruise to Key West, where "doctors explained that they did not have the equipment to handle the severe trauma that plaintiff had suffered. They also stated that the plaintiff should have been air evacuated from the cruise ship directly to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami."
Kirby says she began receiving medical treatment 16 hours after she fell off the boat and was in the hospital for three weeks.
She claims: "Carnival intentionally and/or recklessly decided to search the ship first, despite knowing (as represented by plaintiff's friend, fiancé and other passenger witnesses) that the plaintiff had fallen overboard. In doing so, Carnival intentionally and/or recklessly abandoned the plaintiff in the middle of the ocean for an unreasonable period of time. Carnival's conduct was so outrageous in character, and so extreme in degree, as to go beyond all possible bounds decency, and to be regarded as atrocious, and utterly intolerable in a civilized community." (Parentheses in complaint.)
Named as defendants are Carnival Corp., Dr. Steven Saris, Dr. Alla Simovskykh, Pricilla Isaacs, and Audrey Minardi.
Kirby seeks punitive damages for negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
She is represented by Carlos Negret, with Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman.