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Old September 13th, 2001, 12:28 PM
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Default NCL Loses ADA Court Case-Blind Passengers

Subj: NCL Loses ADA Lawsuit

This info should be of interest to a TA. On Aug. 22, 2001 the U.S. District Court in Florida, case No. 01-0244-Civ-King/O'Sullivan issued a Consent Order and Final Judgment in the case U.S. of America v. Norwegian Caribbean Cruise Line Limited . The U.S. Dept of Justice, Civil Rights Division sued NCL on behalf of Stephen Gomes and Robert and Joy Stigile. All plaintiffs are blind and tried to book a cruise with NCL on one of their ships.

NCL required that Gomes be accompanied by someone who was not blind; that he sign an affidavit absolving NCL of any liability for injuries sustained by Gomes while aboard the ship, and a number of other requirements.

The plaintiffs contended that passengers who are not blind are not required to conform to these special requirements. When the plaintiffs are alleged to speak it is actually the lawyers for the Dept. of Justice.

NCL agreed to a consent order; agreed that the Americans With Disability Act applied to their ships; NCL agreed to require any special conditions that are not required of passengers that are not blind.

NCL nevertheless disputes the findings of the Court jurisdiction and where ADA is applicable. "A holding will be considered the ultimate disposition: on the issue if there is no application for rehearing or certiorari on the issue, or an application for rehearing or certiorari is denied on the issue.

"NCL agrees to designate an employee or employees to deal with and address ADA compliance matters." The decision does not spell out whether the employees of NCL are required to escort the blind around the ship.

Gomes was awarded $27,500 in damages; Stigiles awarded $15,000 damages

I have been on HAL ships when twice I came in contact with blind passengers. In one case the man seemed to get around pretty well with a seeing eye dog. The other time there was a couple, both blind who sought the help of other passengers, complete strangers to get around. I do not recall any employee of HAL, except in the dining rooms, helping guide this couple.
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