Roller Rink Case on Royal Caribbean Ship

O’Malley v. Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd., 2018 WL 4323792 (S.D. Fla. Sept. 10, 2018):  The Court denied the cruise line’s motion for summary judgment.  The Court held RCCL knew about the danger posed by ping-pong balls falling down to the floor of a roller rink, RCCL failed to address the danger, and failed to warn its passengers about the danger.

NOTICE OF A DANGEROUS CONDITION IN FACE OF PIZZINO: Despite the Eleventh Circuit’s holding in Pizzino (holding that notice cannot be imputed to a cruise ship operator because the operator itself created and maintained the defect), the Court found sufficient evidence that RCCL knew or should have known about the dangerous condition. 

“Notice is not limited to prior accidents reports of substantially similar incidents, comments or complaints from other passengers, or reports from safety inspections that would alert a cruise-ship operator to a potential safety concern.”

Actual notice may be established through crew member admissions.  Royal Caribbean’s employee testified that ping pong balls fell onto the skating surface “quite frequently” and “numerous times”.  Royal Caribbean’s Chief Safety Officer testified that “ping-pong balls should not be on the skating surface … because they pose a hazard to skaters.” 

·       OPEN AND OBVIOUS: Awareness of falling ping-pong balls is not necessarily an open and obvious condition.  RCCL failed to present “any evidence that, through the use of one’s ordinary sense, one would necessarily appreciate the risk associated with the pong-pong balls on the rink”.  RCCL’s own Sports Staff Supervisor admitted she “never really thought a ping-pong ball would be a hazard because she would assume you could skate over it” and just “crush it”.