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Old December 23rd, 2002, 06:42 PM
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Default Court of Appeals Case

Court of Appeals Court Case
Hermann Paul

This Federal Court of Appeals decision may be of interest to parents of minor children they take on a cruise and who are injured while about the cruise ship. The lawsuit is known a C.J. Gibbs, a minor had his Guardian Parents , Appellants vs. Carnival Cruise Lines , U.S. Court of Appeals, 3rd Circuit, No.01-4101 , filed 10/16/02.

On August 25, 1998 C.J. Gibbs suffered second degree burns on the soles of his feet when he stepped onto a hot surface while about a Carnival cruise ship. The parents engaged the services of an attorney firm that notified Carnival on March 25, 1999 it had been engaged by the parents to represent the minor in connection with the injury. On April 9, 1999 Carnival replied to the lawyers that it had received the letter. The medical record of the minor was transmitted to Carnival on May 17, 2000. Carnival responded by informing the attorney the claim was time barred since the passenger ticket required filing suit within one year of the date of the injury. On August 26, 2000 the Gibbses filed a lawsuit in the Federal District court in New Jersey alleging negligence, infliction of emotional distress, and breach of contract.

Carnival asked the trial court to dismiss the lawsuit on the grounds of failure to file suit in time, and that the forum selection clause in the passenger ticket called for filing suit in a court in Miami, Florida. The trial court sided with Carnival dismissing the suit primarily on the issue of failure to file the lawsuit in time. The Gibbses appealed the decision to the Third Circuit Federal Court of Appeals. The transcript of the Court of Appeals prints out 16 pages on Adobe Acrobat Reader. Therefore, this article is only a brief synopsis of the court decision. There was debating as to whether the case should be adjudicated under New Jersey law or Admiralty law. It was decide since the injury occurred about a ship on the high seas, Admiralty law should apply. There were long dissertations whether the Gibbs were duly appointed as guardians of the minor.

The Gibbses contended the minor under the circumstances should have been allowed three years from the date of the injury to file suit" because C.R. Gibb's. complaint was filed within the safe-harbor of 46 U.S.C.S. 183(b) which mandates the tolling of suit time-bars in passenger ticket contracts for minors who suffer injury aboard maritime carriers. " This provision provides for the three years filing after the date of the injury.

The Court of Appeals agreed and remanded the lawsuit to the trial court, dismissing the suit of the parents but vacated the trial court order dismissing the minor's claim. The court went on, "Since the validity of the form selection clause was not raised on appeal, we will not address it here. We note in this regard, however, that should the District Court choose to enforce the clause on remand------our holding in this opinion---means the Gibbses will have the opportunity to re-file the lawsuit in a Florida Court "

The writer is not an attorney and does not intend to give legal advice. The article is for not for profit educational purpose. Court cases such this one are not subject to copyright laws. Anyone interested in reading the complete case can do so by: Downloading Yahoo. Scroll down to Governments; Next click on government;, then on United States Government; click on Judicial; click on Federal Circuit Courts; Click on 3rd Circuit; you want to read Opinions; either scroll down the list of opinions till you find Gibbs, v. Carnival or in the box, fill in Gibbs v. Carnival Cruise Lines, No.01-4101. You need Adobe Acrobat reader, which is free to read the decision.

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