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HannaS December 23rd, 2002 06:42 PM

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.


LisaK December 24th, 2002 07:44 AM

Re: Court of Appeals Case
oh pleeeease! they are suing because he burned his feet on the deck, give me a break! talk about stupid and friviloius lawsuit! how can it be Carnival's fault that the sun heats up the decks! i suppose if he burned his feet in the sand they would sue the beach!!

Kuki December 24th, 2002 09:05 AM

Re: Court of Appeals Case
Hanna.. we thank you so much for spreading your normal good cheer for the holidays :)


pamda December 24th, 2002 09:44 AM

Re: Court of Appeals Case
I think the parents should have taken a fall for child abuse. I don't know if stupidity is a felony in New Jersey.

Jim Bragg December 24th, 2002 11:07 AM

Re: Court of Appeals Case
Frankly even though this is related to a cruise ship I can't see the rational in posting case law on our boards. Case law is in and of itself very boring. Try studing this stuff and being tested on it. It was not my favorite course.

norm December 25th, 2002 08:03 PM

Re: Court of Appeals Case

oh pleeeease! they are suing because he burned his feet on the deck, give me a break! talk about stupid and friviloius lawsuit! how can it be Carnival's fault that the sun heats up the decks! i suppose if he burned his feet in the sand they would sue the beach!!

I agree with your sentiments. Then again, there are many similar cases that courts should have dismissed in the past but that instead resulted in huge awards. The woman who dumped a cup of hot coffee in her lap and then sued McDonald's because the coffee was too hot comes to mind. Then again, it's also possible that the child was in the supervised children's program operated by the cruise line when the injury occurred. If such was the case, the cruise line would be liable for the actions of its youth staff.

That said, it's important to remember that, in this instance, the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit did not rule on the merit of the case. Rather, the court ruled only that a an artificial deadline for filing lawsuits in one cruise line's contract of passage was illegal and thus unenforceable. On remand, the trial court still may either dismiss the suit on other grounds or order it shifted to another venue (Miami) without conducting a trial. A finding of either parental irresponsibility or liability on the part of the cruise line, however, requires the trial court conduct a trial to establish such a fact. Such a trial has not yet occurred.


pamda December 25th, 2002 10:03 PM

Re: Court of Appeals Case
Oh, Norm ...

You know enough about the law to give us all a break. Some people WILL sue and go as far as they can in the hopes of ... what?

Until this is decided, it is NOT black-letter law.

Juries (most of which are composed of people who would like to get a lot of money, because they don't have any) just LOVE to give away other folks' money. Doesn't cost them anything.

I have sat, painfully, through the jury selection process. Anyone with a college degree gets disqualified on challenge. G*d forbid that we are tried by a jury of our peers.

Unless peerage means breathing.

Let's give this thing a rest.

AR December 26th, 2002 06:01 AM

Re: Re: Court of Appeals Case
Now, now, now. You're all jumping to conclusions. Who says the kid burned his feet on the deck? All the post said was that he burned them on a "hot surface." My hunch is that he climbed up on the omelet station and stepped into the pans.

He'll get $20 million.


Seahunks December 26th, 2002 07:42 AM

Re: Court of Appeals Case
...And unless the cruise line had a sign specfically prohibiting using the omelet station as a diving board...the sky's the limit!

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