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Media Alerts - Patricia Franza v. Royal Carribbean-11th Circuit
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November 18, 2014
  Patricia Franza v. Royal Carribbean-11th Circuit
Headline: Eleventh Circuit holds that a passenger may use actual or apparent agency principles to hold a cruise line vicariously liable for onboard medical negligence.

Area of law: Maritime

Issue: Whether a passenger may use apparent or actual agency principles to impute liability to a cruise line for onboard medical negligence.

Brief Summary: Appellant filed suit for medical negligence by a doctor and nurse on a cruise ship. The district court, finding no basis for either the actual agency or apparent agency claim, dismissed the complaint. The Eleventh Circuit reversed and remanded for further proceedings after finding that the claim could be brought under either basis.

Extended Summary: Pasquale F. Vaglio ("Vaglio"), an elderly cruise ship passenger, fell and suffered head injuries while a passenger on the vessel "Explorer of the Seas" which was docked in Bermuda. Vaglio sought medical attention from the ship's onboard nurse and doctor. He was ultimately transported to a hospital in Bermuda where he died. Patricia Franza ("Franza"), Vaglio's daughter filed a complaint alleging Royal Caribbean Cruise, Ltd. was vicariously liable for the purported negligence of the ship's doctor and its nurse, under actual or apparent agency theories. The district court applied the actual agency rule set forth in Barbetta v. S/S Bermuda Star, 848 F.2d 1364 (5th Cir. 1988) as a basis to dismiss the actual agency claim. The court also dismissed the apparent agency claim as inadequately pled.

The Eleventh Circuit, in a case of first impression, reversed. The appellate court found the complaint set out a basis for holding the cruise line liable under actual authority and rejected the line of authority relied on by the district court. In doing so, the court found the reasons for the Barbetta rule are no longer valid. Specifically, the court noted that passengers were regularly permitted to invoke vicarious liability in other maritime tort cases. Additionally, the court pointed to the widespread application of vicarious liability in medical negligence cases. Accordingly, the Eleventh Circuit found that the allegations of the complaint were sufficient to withstand the Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. The court also reversed as to apparent authority since the factual allegations supported a finding that the elements were adequately pled. Thus, the cause was reversed and remanded for further proceedings.

To view full opinion:

Text

Panel:Marcus and Anderson, Circuit Judges, and Goldberg (United States Court of International Trade Judge, sitting by designation).

Argument: May 22, 2014

Date of Issued Opinion: November 10, 2014

Docket Number: 13-13067

Decided: Reversed and Remanded

Case Alert Author: Arlene Marie Hernandez, Alain Enrique Roman, Greg Light, and Asheley Yvette Figueroa

Counsel: Phillip D. Parrish for Appellant Patricia Franza
Rodolfo Sorondo, Jr. for Appellee Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.

Author of Opinion: Judge Marcus

    Posted By: Gary Kravitz @ 11/18/2014 01:18 PM     11th Circuit  

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