Woman’s Adverse Cruise Ship Negligence Ruling Shows Hazards of Self-Representation

On our Youtube.com page we have a video about why cruise injury victims should not represent themselves in court. This should be relatively clear in light of the fact that cruise companies have high priced lawyers on their side, fighting to ensure that the companies pay out as little as possible to victims. A recent news article about a woman whose daughter died aboard a cruise ship demonstrates this principle in painful detail.

Newsweek.com reports that in August 2013, 17-year-old Briana Marties died aboard a cruise ship after eating food aboard the ship and then falling ill. Briana was treated at the ship’s infirmary and, according to a complaint which was later filed by her mother, should have been medically disembarked at Haiti.

Royal Caribbean offered to settle the suit for $500,00 in 2015, but the company refused to admit wrongdoing. After the Martins refused, the lawyers representing the family left the case. 

Eventually Briana’s mother, Marla Martins, decided to represent herself. But her case was not properly presented to the court. For example, she reportedly backed out of a November 2017 trial, and was sanctioned by the judge. The judge presiding over the case, U.S. Magistrate Jonathan Goodman, wrote in his opinion that “Martins’ conduct has consistently evinced a lack of respect for the court and a heedlessness of the consequences of her actions,” Newsweek reports. 

It appears that, as of now, the sanction may mean that Martins will not only be unable to collect for her daughter’s death, but may also end up owing court costs for the cruise line.