United States District Court, S.D. Florida
L.A., a minor, by and through his mother, natural Guardian and next friend, T.A., Plaintiff,
ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISES, LTD., Defendant.
P. GAYLES, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
CAUSE comes before the Court on Defendant ROYAL
CARIBBEAN CRUISES, LTD.'s (“Defendant”)
Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint (the
“Motion”) [ECF No. 10]. The Court has carefully
reviewed the Motion, the record, and the applicable law. For
the reasons discussed below, the Motion is denied.
August 22, 2017, Plaintiff L.A. (“Plaintiff”), a
minor, by and through his mother, natural Guardian and next
friend, T.A., filed his Complaint against Defendant setting
forth one count for negligence, and one count for intentional
infliction of emotional distress (“IIED”).
Plaintiff demands both actual and punitive damages under both
action arises out of the sexual assault, battery, and abuse
of Plaintiff while traveling as a passenger aboard
Defendant's cruise ship. [ECF No. 1 ¶ 1]. Plaintiff,
age thirteen at the time, was joined on the cruise by his
mother and brother. [Id. at ¶¶ 11, 30]. In
the early morning hours of August 16, 2015, Plaintiff was
with other young passengers in the library on the cruise
ship. [Id. at ¶ 30]. Plaintiff alleges that at
approximately 2:00 AM, two visibly intoxicated adult
passengers entered the ship's library and sexually
assaulted and battered Plaintiff. [Id. at ¶
31]. Plaintiff contends the adult assailants were overserved
alcohol by Defendant. [Id.]. Plaintiff alleges that
security cameras installed by Defendant captured the majority
of the attack, but no employee came to his aid because the
cameras were not being monitored. [Id. at ¶
32]. Alternatively, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant's
employees were monitoring the cameras and saw the assault,
but did nothing to assist him. [Id. at ¶ 33].
Plaintiff argues that as a direct result of Defendant's
failure to exercise reasonable care for his safety, he
sustained serious physical and emotional injuries.
[Id. at ¶ 43].
IIED claim arises from Defendant's conduct following the
alleged assault. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that
Defendant “put [Plaintiff] in the same room as the
perpetrators of the sexual assault and asked [Plaintiff] to
speak up about what occurred, despite the sexual assault
having been recorded by Defendant's surveillance
cameras.” [Id. at ¶ 50]. Plaintiff was
terrified because one of the assailants “threatened to
cut his head off and throw it overboard if he said anything
about what occurred.” [Id.]. Plaintiff claims
Defendant acted in this manner to avoid reporting the
incident to authorities, demonstrating a reckless
indifference to his well-being. [Id. at ¶ 51].
survive a motion to dismiss brought pursuant to Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a claim “must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state
a claim to relief that is plausible on its face, '”
meaning that it must contain “factual content that
allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007)). While a court must accept well-pleaded factual
allegations as true, “conclusory allegations . . . are
not entitled to an assumption of truth-legal conclusions must
be supported by factual allegations.” Randall v.
Scott, 610 F.3d 701, 709-10 (11th Cir. 2010).
“[T]he pleadings are construed broadly, ”
Levine v. World Fin. Network Nat'l Bank, 437
F.3d 1118, 1120 (11th Cir. 2006), and the allegations in the
complaint are viewed in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff. Bishop v. Ross Earle & Bonan, P.A.,
817 F.3d 1268, 1270 (11th Cir. 2016).
Negligence (Count I)
plead negligence under maritime law, Plaintiff must allege
that (1) Defendant had a duty to protect Plaintiff from a
particular injury; (2) Defendant breached that duty; (3) the
breach actually and proximately caused Plaintiff's
injury; and (4) Plaintiff suffered actual harm. See
Chaparro v. Carnival Corp., 693 F.3d 1333, 1336 (11th
Cir. 2012) (citation omitted).
raises several bases for dismissal of Plaintiff's
negligence claim. The Court addresses each in turn.
cruise-ship operator, Defendant owes its passengers a duty of
“reasonable care under the circumstances.”
Pucci v. Carnival Corp.,146 F.Supp.3d 1281, 1286
(S.D. Fla. 2015). Defendant contends that Plaintiff's
Complaint alleges a heightened duty because Plaintiff's
Complaint is “premised, in part, on Royal's failure
to maintain and monitor security cameras aboard the subject
vessel.” [ECF No. 10, at 5]. Accordingly, to Defendant,
“[t]his entire theory of negligence should be dismissed
and/or stricken from the Complaint as no such duty exists
under maritime law.” [Id.]. In advancing this
argument, Defendant relies principally on Mizener v.
Carnival Corp., No. 05-22965-CIV, 2006 WL 8430159 (S.D.
Fla. June 16, 2006), arguing that “Mizener
specifically held that placement of a camera aboard a vessel
does not create a duty to monitor the camera for the safety
and security of the vessel's passengers.” [ECF No.
10, at 5]. However, the plaintiff in Mizener did not
claim that he relied upon the camera, or that the cruise ship
advertised the camera as a security measure.
Mizener, 2006 WL 8430159, at *3 (noting that a
cruise-ship operator may have a duty to monitor security
cameras where it advertised the camera and its security
benefits and Plaintiff alleged reliance on same). Indeed,
courts have distinguished Mizener and declined to
dismiss negligence claims where the passenger plaintiff
alleges the cruise ship advertised security cameras and the
plaintiff relied on same. For example, in Doe v. Royal
Caribbean Cruises, Ltd., No. 11-23323-CIV, 2011 WL
6727959 (S.D. Fla. Mar. 19, 2012), a cruise ship passenger
alleged that she relied upon the fact that she would be
continuously monitored by security cameras during the cruise.
Doe, 2011 WL 6727959, at *3. In denying the motion
to dismiss, the Doe court explained that
“[t]he plaintiff's alleged reliance … is a
factual circumstance, not a legal conclusion, which the Court
must accept as true.” Id. The court further
noted that “[w]hether the plaintiff did in fact rely on
the presence of surveillance cameras, and whether that
reliance was reasonable in view of the defendant's