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Sister Blames Cruise Line for Brother’s Death

(CN) - Royal Caribbean Cruises failed to ensure the safety a vacationing Florida man who died after consuming large amounts of alcohol on one of the cruise line's ships and falling overboard, the man's family claims in court.

In a complaint filed in Miami Federal Court, plaintiff Tamblyn Cubero claims her brother Frank Flippo and a friend, Rene Von Hoyt, had planned their cruise vacation to celebrate the fiftieth birthday of another friend.

Cubero says that her brother and Von Hoyt departed from the port of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. on March 19, 2015, and they on a cruise ship headed to Cozumel, Mexico.

The complaint describes a largely idyllic cruise, with Flippo and Von Hoyt enjoying the restaurants and other amenities onboard the ship, and later touring Mayan Ruins at Chichen Itza, Mexico.

The next day the vessel headed back to Fort Lauderdale, and Flippo and Hoyt decided to enjoy their last day at the cruise by the poolside, Cubero says.

"After having breakfast at the vessel's buffet, Frank Flippo and Rene Von Hoyt proceeded to the upper deck pool where they started to drink rum runners," Cubero says.

Cubero alleges that after several hours of drinking and lounging by the poolside bar, Von Hoyt headed back to the cabin because she was feeling sick, but Flippo remained at the bar where the bartender continued to serve him drinks.

"Royal Caribbean negligently served alcoholic beverages to Frank Flippo in excess, causing his judgment and faculties to become substantially impaired," Cubero claims.

In spite of his condition Flippo was never approached or helped by a Royal Caribbean representative, his sister claims.

According to the complaint at some point after Von Hoyt left, Flippo stumbled out of the bar and went to the deck to sit on a lounge chair, where he remained for about half an hour.

Cubero says her brother then stood up, approached the outer railings of the vessel, and fell overboard.

Cubero says a witness reported Flippo's plunge, but that the ship's crew conducted only a cursory search for her brother before heading off to the vessel's final destination in Fort Lauderdale.

The U.S. Coast Guard conducted a search for several days, but Flippo's body was never found, the complaint says.

Cubero contends her brother's death was not an isolated incident and that Royal Caribbean has had other passengers fall overboard after drinking large amounts of alcohol.

"Frank Flippo was neither depressed nor suicidal. He had no history of depression, suicide attempts, suicidal tendencies or ideations," Cubero says.

Cubero seeks compensatory damages on claims of negligence.

She is represented by Scott Wagner from Moore & Company PA in Coral Gables, Fla.

Royal Caribbean failed to respond to an email request for comment on the pending litigation.

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