A 53-year-old passenger alleged serious injuries to her lower leg following a zip lining accident that occurred during a shore excursion operated by an independent contractor in Dominica. She brought several claims against the cruise line, including negligent failure to warn about an allegedly dangerous condition, negligent hiring and retention of the shore excursion operator, and vicarious liability claims premised on theories of joint venture, actual agency and apparent agency. Plaintiff alleged that the cruise line was negligent, in part, for failing to ensure that the operator followed the standards promulgated by the Association of Challenge Course Technology (“ACCT”). In support, she retained an expert to conduct a comprehensive site inspection of the zip line in Dominica.
HMB partner, Carlos J. Chardon handled the case with the assistance of associate, Samantha Loveland and briefed the motion for summary judgment, which the Court granted in full in a 25-page opinion. The Court agreed with the cruise line and found that Plaintiff failed to proffer evidence to support that the cruise line knew or had reason to know about the alleged deficiencies of the operator or about a dangerous condition requiring a warning. The Court also rejected Plaintiff’s argument that the cruise line was duty bound to ensure that the operator followed ACCT standards. Lastly, the Court agreed with the cruise line that the evidence established that the shore excursion operator was an independent contractor and not an agent or joint venturer, and that Plaintiff’s purported belief to the contrary was unreasonable given the multiple disclaimers the cruise line provided. Earlier in the case, the Court granted the cruise line’s Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff’s Initial Complaint in full for failure to state a cause of action.