(MIAMI) — A passenger aboard the Royal Caribbean cruise ship that ventured into hurricane-force winds earlier this month is suing the company, saying it was negligent in its decision to start the trip and that the winter storm’s rocking of the vessel caused him severe injury.
In the lawsuit filed in South Florida, Delaware resident Bruce Simpson accuses the captain and crew of being aware of the storm and putting everyone on board its Anthem of the Seas ship at risk, court documents say.
“Royal Caribbean is directly responsible and liable for its actions and the actions of its crew, including the captain, for choosing to sail into a hurricane-force storm,” reads the lawsuit, which was filed last Thursday in U.S. District Court in Miami.
About 4,500 passengers boarded Royal Caribbean Cruises’ Anthem of the Seas Feb. 6 in New Jersey, and departed for the round-trip to Florida and the Bahamas.
The storm began the next morning, when the ship was off the coast of the Carolinas, with wind gusts of up to 120 mph and nearly 40-foot waves.
By 2 p.m., the storm was so severe that the captain ordered all of the passengers to stay in their rooms for safety, the lawsuit said.
As the ship began to rock and tilt violently, Simpson was forced to hold on to the bed while his husband held onto the couch, according to the lawsuit. When he stood up from the bed to use the restroom, the ship shook so violently that he was “hurled across the room with such force that he was knocked unconscious,” the suit alleges.
After Simpson was flung 18 feet into a door, he suffered from a concussion, a bruise on his left eye, an injured wrist and pains and bruising in his neck, ribs and torso, court documents state.
When he went to seek medical attention the next morning, the medical office was closed, according to the lawsuit.
Court documents state that Simpson had two aneurysms before the trip, one on his heart and the other on his abdomen. If he had hit one as he was thrown in the air, he would have bled to death, according to the lawsuit.
In the days before the ship’s departure, weather forecasters and meteorologists predicted a serious storm off the Atlantic Ocean. The captain of the ship has previously said that the forecasts were not “anything near what we actually experienced.”
Simpson is seeking recovery of unspecified damages that include alleged physical injury, physical pain and suffering, impairment and economic insecurity.
Miami-headquartered Royal Caribbean Cruises said it doesn’t comment on pending litigation, but Simpson’s lawyer, Jason Itkin, told ABC News in a statement, “The cruise lines have taken steps inside and outside the courtroom to make it notoriously difficult for passengers to seek relief for injuries.”
He added: “We want to send a warning to cruise lines that they shouldn’t take risks with the lives of their passengers. We believe Royal Caribbean was under financial pressure to start the cruise on time. They took a calculated risk when they sent their passengers into the storm, and we don’t think the passengers should be the ones that pay for Royal Caribbean’s lack of judgement.”
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