This is an interesting case. Adrian Vasquez, an 18-year-old Panamanian fisherman who pulled a Louis Zamperini by surviving 28 days at sea before being rescued by the Ecuadorian navy, has filed a lawsuit in Florida against Princess Cruise Lines
Why? Did they cause him to fall off his boat? No. Vasquez’ lawsuit alleges that a Princess Cruise ship saw him and should have stopped.
How does this make sense? Well, first the law of the seas is that you have to stop and help someone in distress. Good rule to be sure. The ship knew Vasquez was there; they were told by passengers someone was down there. But apparently, the communication on the ship was poor, so by the time the news reached the powers that be, they were too far past and did not turn back. In fact, Princess contends that the captain never knew.
Still, and maybe correctly, Vasquez’ lawsuit frames it more harshly: Princess “had clear knowledge that people were stranded in an open boat hundreds of miles from shore in the Pacific Ocean and desperately calling for their help” but they “consciously ignored the emergency situation and did not deviate from their cruise.”
That said, the lawsuit is a little disconcerting (at least to me). The guys – two of them sadly perished – were out on a fishing boat, probably with a bad engine, no tools, and apparently little navigational experience. I think the cruise line did something bad here and should be made to pay for it. But, a lawsuit filed in Florida by someone who is not a U.S. citizen when they put themselves in harm’s way in the first place…
You know, I don’t like this guy being able to file a lawsuit in Florida and I also would not like it if he could not bring a claim if that makes any sense. Because both outcomes are flawed.
Anyway, the suit has been filed, and discovery has begun. Clearly, regardless of the legal outcome, Princess Cruises has a real PR problem on its hands. So Princess comes out with an announcement of big news it learned in discovery: Princess Cruises did not miss Vasquez at all. Instead, they missed someone else.
What? Yeah, apparently Princess Cruises’ expert says the boat Vasquez was on is a different boat than the one seen and photographed by the passengers. If this is true, Princess Cruises will win this case. But, geez, I don’t think it solves their bigger problem: Why didn’t they do everything they could when they believed someone was in distress?