Cruise Ship Passenger Disappearance Lawyer
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It is hard to imagine a pleasure cruise aboard a cruise ship can result in a nightmare when a cruise passenger is reported missing during the cruise. However, cruise ship passenger disappearances have occurred with much more frequency than one would ever imagine.
Reports of passengers going overboard on cruise ships, deaths and disappearances, have become much more prevalent in the past 10 to 15 years. I’ve been handling maritime cases for more than 30 years, and the last 10 to 15 years have brought to light many more deaths and disappearances than I had seen previously. The most recent case discussed involves a murder.
Although exact statistics have not been revealed regarding the number of passengers who have disappeared or who have gone overboard on a cruise ship, because the cruise ship companies have not been required by any legal obligation to maintain or report such information, the disappearance of honeymooner, George Smith IV, during his honeymoon cruise, brought to light the issue of cruise passenger disappearances and passengers going overboard during a cruise.
What to Do if Your Family Member Disappears on a Cruise Ship?
Our firm represented the parents of George Smith IV in their case against Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, seeking answers from the cruise ship company how their son could have gone overboard during his honeymoon cruise. There were reports of a fight in the cabin, including blood found in the cabin during an investigation, which suggested foul play. The authorities were pursuing the case as one of foul play. There were allegations that the investigation was not properly done at the beginning which resulted in the inability to provide the answers the Smith family desperately sought.
We have handled several cases involving a passenger who has gone overboard during their cruise. As to the liability of the cruise ship company, the typical duty of the cruise ship company is to exercise reasonable care for the safety of the passengers. This includes providing adequate security aboard the ship to prevent “foul play” from causing injury or death to any of their passengers. The duty of reasonable care may also include monitoring the sale and consumption of alcohol, which often leads to incidents aboard vessels, which have included cruise ship passenger disappearances as well as sexual assaults and rapes.
The cruise ship company also has the duty to conduct an appropriate search and rescue effort after learning that a passenger is missing.
Involvement of Alcohol in Going Overboard on a Cruise Ship
We have handled cases involving the sale of alcohol which was reportedly l linked to the disappearance or blamed as the cause of the passenger going overboard, as well as inadequate search and rescue efforts which contributed to the failure to promptly locate and save the missing passenger.
Attorney, Brett Rivkind of our law firm testified in Congress following the disappearance of George Smith about cruise ship safety issues, as well reporting requirements of the cruise ship companies. Eventually, the Congressional Hearings spearheaded a movement to pass better legislation to protect passengers aboard cruise ships, and President Obama signed into law. This law provides for better reporting requirements by the cruise line companies, which will now lead to better awareness on the part of the public about the potential dangers that do lurk aboard a cruise ship. Hopefully better reporting of the incidents that do occur on cruise ships, as well as greater awareness, will result in fewer catastrophes aboard cruise ships.
Another disappearance of a cruise ship passenger also resulted in her father becoming very active in the movement toward better legislation. Our firm assisted in the creation of the organization International Cruise Victims, which is led by its President, Kendall Carver, who lost his daughter aboard a passenger cruise ship.
My office Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind P.A., represented the family of George Smith, who was on his honeymoon aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship when he went missing. His case is discussed in the article. It was believed he was the victim of foul play, but it was never proven. The FBI kept an active file for several years before finally closing it without ever solving what really happened to George Smith. There was evidence that there was some type of fighting in his cabin the night he went missing, and blood was found on the canopy below his balcony, showing that he had fallen off the balcony, struck the canopy and fell into the waters. His body was never recovered so there was no forensic evidence to develop. Without a body, it is very difficult to solve a mystery of a passenger disappearing. In addition, the onboard evidence got contaminated due to the cruise line’s failure to have a prompt and adequate investigation, and the FBI’s involvement came too late to solve what happened.
Many experts criticized the cruise line in the George Smith case as having botched the investigation, and even suggested there had been an intentional cover-up of the incident which prevented proving what happened. I personally boarded the cruise ship with famous Dr. Henry Lee, who performed the forensic evaluation, albeit way too late to obtain meaningful evidence. He attempted to re-create the incident where George Smith fell from the balcony, and inspected the canopy below for any residue blood that might have still been present. However, the cruise ship company blocked our attempt to use a dummy model to simulate the incident, preventing the full and complete investigation Dr. Henry Lee really wanted to do. There were a few suspects who were focused on by the FBI, but there were never any arrests made in the disappearance of George Smith.
If Your Family Member Disappeared While on a Cruise, Our Attorneys Can Help
My firm has represented many family members whose loved ones have mysteriously disappeared or gone overboard and were never rescued on cruise ships. I have also appeared during Congressional Hearings addressing cruise ship safety and security, including discussions about the George Smith case and other instances of passengers going overboard. As a result of congressional hearings, legislation was passed, which included requirements that the cruise ship companies implement available technology for detecting when a passenger goes overboard so that prompt search and rescue efforts can be implemented. Despite this legislation, the majority of cruise ships have resisted implementation of this available technology.
Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind P.A., continues to act as advocates for those harmed at sea, and Brett Rivkind has more than 30 years of experience handling maritime cases involving serious and catastrophic injury cases, and wrongful death cases.