Hickey Law Firm Files Two Sexual Assault Lawsuits Against MSC Cruises

Hickey Law Firm Files Two Sexual Assault Lawsuits Against MSC CruisesHickey Law Firm has filed two separate sexual assault lawsuits against MSC in federal court in Florida. One lawsuit alleges an assault by a crewmember; the other lawsuit cites a passenger as the perpetrator of sexual abuse of a child.

“This seems to be a pattern,” attorney John H. (Jack) Hickey told Law360. “These sexual assaults are devastating to these passenger victims.”

About the ships

The MSC Meraviglia cruise ship has space for 4,500 people and 1,536 crew members. Despite being heralded as one of the largest cruise ships in the world, the non-suite rooms are largely squeezed together on multiple decks, with hallways that are narrower than those of the average hotel. Decks 8 through 14 are only cabins, with lifts (elevators) located at the center and toward the front of the ship.

The MSC Divina cruise ship has room for just over 4200 passengers and 1,388 crew members. Decks 8 through 13 are similar in design to the Meraviglia, though there are additional lifts on each floor. There are two Kids Clubs, including the Mini Club which is located on the 15th deck.

Assault by a crewmember: Jane Doe vs. MSC Cruises and MSC Cruise Management (UK) Limited

“Jane Doe” was a passenger on the MSC Meraviglia. Every night, she and her cousin would eat dinner at Waves, which provided fixed time dining. Their server every night was the same crewmember. On March 5, 2023, Doe and her cousin went to the ship’s onboard casino. The cousin left the casino earlier than Doe, returning to the cabin to relax. Within moments, the cousin called Doe, upset. Their server, the MSC crewmember, had followed the cousin back to the room; he told the cousin “he had seen Doe’s cousin walking down the hall and he went into the stateroom so that other crew members would not see him fraternizing with passengers, as that is against the Defendants’ policies and rules.”

The MSC crewmember brought alcohol with him, and repeatedly and aggressively tried to the Doe and her cousin to drink it. Eventually, Doe accepted a glass of wine to get him to stop asking, but did not drink any of it.

The MSC crewmember refused to leave Doe’s room, though she and her cousin asked him repeatedly to go. At one point, the cousin went to the bathroom. The MSC crewmember then “forcefully grabbed Doe by the arms and licked her face.” This was the beginning of his violent assault. Per the complaint:

The MSC crewmember aggressively threw Doe on the bed. Doe frantically tried to push him off of her but was unsuccessful. The MSC crewmember got on top of Doe and began undoing his belt. Throughout the physical struggle, he was continuously licking Doe’s face and trying to undress her. Doe was screaming during the attack and yelling for him to get off of her. Doe’s cousin finally heard the yelling and rushed into the room. The MSC crewmember became distracted and Doe was able to escape. Doe ran into the hallway screaming for help. No help arrived. The MSC crewmember pushed Doe against the wall and threatened her into silence. He threatened that he would come back and find Doe if she were to report him. The MSC crewmember finally left and the women locked the stateroom door.

This horrific incident speaks to a pattern of negligence by the cruise lines. This was not the first time a passenger was sexually assault or raped on an MSC cruise; since 2010, all cruise ships have been required to track reports of sexual assault, rape, abuse, and other attacks. MSC tracked at least eight such attacks between 2016 and 2020 alone, and we believe this is not an accurate number. Only 3 out of every 10 rapes are reported, statistically – and we believe that there are likely many more MSC passengers, and passengers on other cruise ships, who did not report their assaults out of fear of retaliation.

Hickey Law Firm filed the lawsuit against MSC on behalf of Jane Doe, a victim of an attempted rape by one of its crewmembers. She has suffered severe psychological trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of this assault. She is still fearful and continues to suffer nightmares. MSC Cruises is strictly liable for the injuries and harm that its crewmember inflicted on our client.

Hickey told Law360, “The defendants do little or nothing to screen these young men before they are hired, to train the young men when they are hired, or to monitor the activities of these crew members after they are hired.” He added “that MSC also poorly monitors which crewmembers have access to female passengers.”

Child sex abuse: Jane Doe vs. MSC Cruises and MSC Cruise Management (UK) Limited

In this lawsuit, Jane Doe – the mother of A.K., a minor who was sexually abused by a passenger on the MSC Divina – is seeking damages from the cruise line because their negligence put her daughter in harm’s way, and led directly to her injuries and trauma.

A.K. was dropped off at the ship’s Mini Club on January 29, 2023. A.K. needed to use the bathroom and told the employees of the cruise line. The employees said she was not to lock the door when she went, per the ship’s policy. Law360 reports “no employees then watched the door as A.K. was using the restroom, and a male passenger from one of the other Kids Clubs followed her inside. He initially exited after she told him to leave, but then he returned and put his hand on her hip and then on her vagina, according to the suit.”

Our client’s daughter was sexually molested by a predator because of MSC’s woefully inadequate and dangerous policies. MSC Cruises Kids Club policies specifically state that children “are looked after by our trained, multilingual personnel, certified for safeguarding children.” Yet there was no supervising adult looking out for A.K. – or ANY child – using the bathroom. As the complaint states:

This male passenger continued to enter and exit the restroom without any of the Defendants’ [MSC’s] employees stopping him or correcting the dangerous situation. The inattentive and negligent employees allowed this male passenger to enter the bathroom multiple times while A.K. was alone and vulnerable. The male passenger and A.K. were both left in the care, custody, and control of the Defendants and their employees working at the Kids Clubs at this time. This male passenger entered the restroom a final time and took advantage of A.K. being alone, unmonitored, unsupervised and vulnerable…. A.K. told the male passenger that took advantage of her that she would tell the Kids Club employees and he pled her not to. At no point did the Defendants’ employees entrusted with A.K.’s safety monitor the situation or intervene.

Child sexual abuse is always a horrific crime and traumatic experience. MSC Cruises’ policy of keeping bathroom doors unlocked in the Kids Club is especially egregious. This little girl was subjected to abuse and is still afraid; she has nightmares about what happened. Had MSC properly trained its employees and put in place a better, safer policy, A.K. may not have been a victim of sexual molestation.

Hickey Law Firm specializes in “life changing injuries”®. Call today. Call now. 800.215.7117

Hickey Law Firm has decades of experience holding cruise lines accountable for their negligence. We represent victims of rape and sexual assault and abuse, as well as other catastrophic injuries. Jack Hickey is double Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Admiralty & Maritime Law and Civil Trial, and Board Certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy (NBTA) in Civil Trial. He has been recognized Best Lawyers in America for his work in Admiralty and Maritime Law, Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs, and Medical Malpractice – Plaintiffs.

Cruise lines and cruise ship cases are governed by Maritime Law. Very few attorneys are actually specialists in Maritime Law. Jack Hickey is a specialist. You deserve to have a specialist on your side. You deserve to have a legal team that puts you first. Cruise ship sexual assault, abuse, and rape cases require an experienced Maritime and Personal Injury lawyer. You will find that combination in Jack Hickey and our team.

If you need a specialist, you want Hickey Law Firm. We treat you with compassion and fight aggressively for you in court. To schedule a free consultation with one of our cruise ship lawyers, please call us or fill out our contact form today. Our consultations are completely free, and you will never owe us a dime until we win your case. No matter where you live, we can help you.