Sexual Assault of an Intoxicated Cruise Ship Passenger by a Crewmember

Sexual Assault of an Intoxicated Cruise Ship Passenger by a CrewmemberCrew members on cruise ships have been known to sexually assault and rape passengers. We have represented cruise passengers who have been the subject or suffered from sexual assaults and rapes by crew members from all departments on the ship. The crew members we have found usually are cabin stewards, waiters, cruise directors, and other departments or functions which deal with the public.

Crew members onboard cruise ships usually are young men. They are from developing countries whose standards of propriety may be different from the western world. The countries from which these crew members hail usually do not have the infrastructure to have good criminal records on people or to determine if someone has a record or is a problem. The cruise line pays “hiring partners” to scout out and bring to the cruise line people from that developing country who can and will work onboard the ship. And when they do get onboard, the cruise line expects the crew member to work 12 to 14 hours a day, 7 days a week. The crew member is not paid according to U.S. standards; the U.S. Federal labor laws for overtime, minimum wage, and work hours do not apply onboard these foreign flagged (registered) vessels. And finally, the crew member is away from his or her home – and loved ones – for 6 to 12 months at a time. That is the business model of the modern day cruise line. The cruise lines are extremely profitable based on this business model.

The cruise line tells its passengers in advertising, online on the cruise lines’ website, in brochures, and onboard the ships that the passenger can relax. They know that the passenger is relaxed, on vacation, and does not have to drive home at night. The cruise line tells the passengers to relax and rely on the cruise line to cater to your every need. It is after all a vacation where for much of the time the cruise line has a captive audience of passengers onboard its ships.

The cruise lines also encourage passengers to drink. And drink a lot. In fact, the cruise lines derive a significant percentage of their revenues from selling alcoholic drinks onboard to cruise passengers. Waiters walk around the ship with trays filled with drinks already made. The cruise line offers all you can drink packages. And the cruise lines often prohibit passengers from bringing their own liquor, wine, or beer onboard. That is to ensure that the cruise lines get the revenue from the sale of the alcohol, which is to ensure that the passenger buys all his or her alcohol onboard the ship.

The cruise line has a record in its electronic onboard account of every drink ever purchased by any one passenger. Everyone who has access to the computers with the onboard accounts can see what the passenger has ordered and on what date and at what time. So, they know how much you have purchased. For this reason, the cruise line under the maritime law has a duty to prevent the overservice of alcohol and to stop service to a passenger if that passenger is intoxicated. If something happens because of that intoxication, that is called dramshop liability. That is, maritime law says that the cruise line can be held responsible for what happens to the passenger whom the cruise line overserved alcohol.

One of the things which happens to cruise passengers who are overserved alcohol is sexual assault or rape.  As we all know, “no means no.” When someone says that they do not want the unwanted sexual advance, they do not give consent. And a woman or a man who is inebriated cannot give consent. They are legally not able to consent. If there is no consent to a sexual act or a physical act, it is battery, sexual assault, or rape. So just because the cruise passenger is drunk, inebriated, intoxicated, or whatever term you want to use, does not mean a sexual assault or rape is their fault. It is not. It is the fault of the rapist, the assailant, and/or the person who served excessive alcohol to the cruise passenger. In other words, it is the fault of the cruise line.

Sexual assault on cruise ships is a major problem

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in K.T. v. Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd., No. 17-14237, D.C. Docket 1:16-cv-25157-KMM (July 24, 2019) and Doe v. Princess Cruise Lines, Ltd., 657 F. 3d 1204 (11th Cir. 2011) held that the cruise lines have been on notice a decade before Jane Doe’s cruise “that sexual assaults on cruise ships were a serious problem.”  K.T. v. Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd., No. 17-14237, D.C. Docket 1:16-cv-25157-KMM (July 24, 2019) at 18; Doe v. Princess Cruise Lines, Ltd., 657 F.3d 1204, 1208 n.4 (11th Cir. 2011). The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals stated:

Unfortunately, if congressional reports are to be believed, sexual assaults and other violent crimes on cruise ships are a serious problem. The House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Staff has reported:

At a hearing in March 2006 convened by the Committee on Government Reform, cruise industry executives testified that 178 passengers on North American cruises reported being sexually assaulted between 2003 and 2005. During that same period, 24 people were reported missing and four others reported being robbed.

From fiscal year 2000 through June 2005, the FBI opened 305 case files involving “crimes on the high seas,” and during those five years about 45% of those cases were sexual assaults that occurred on cruise ships.

Salvador Hernandez, Deputy Assistant Director of the FBI, testified before Congress in 2007 about sexual and other physical assaults that have taken place on cruise ships: “Sexual assault and physical assaults on cruise ships were the leading crime reported to and investigated by the FBI on the high seas over the last five years, 55 percent and 22 percent respectively….”

Hickey Law Firm can help if you were sexually assaulted or raped by a cruise ship crewmember

Whenever we file a complaint in court on these cases, we refer to our client as “Jane Doe” or “John Doe.”  This is to preserve the privacy of our clients in this intimate matter. We have the experience and resources to fight for you. We put a full team behind your case consisting of John H. “Jack” Hickey, another attorney, a paralegal/case manager, and a medical case manager/paralegal. We have obtained millions on behalf of our clients.

The legal team at Hickey Law Firm is big enough to handle any case but small enough to care about you and your future. A sexual assault can be life-changing; we will fight to get you the justice and compensation you deserve so you can start on your path to healing. Fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation and allow us to help you through this difficult time. We’re based in Miami but serve cruise ship clients throughout the country.

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