Are Cruise Ship Doctors Liable for Negligent Actions?

Posted on February 06, 2015 by Shapiro Law Group

Late last year we blogged about Franza v. Royal Caribbean Cruises, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and their historic ruling striking down the dated precedents set by the 1988 decision of Barbetta v. S/S Bermuda Star. The old “Barbetta rule” exonerated cruise lines from responsibility in the event of medical malpractice by the onboard physicians, claiming that the doctors were there for passenger convenience only and that the cruise line had no control over the doctor’s actions.


The death of a Royal Caribbean cruise passenger from blatant medical malpractice forced the courts to reexamine the Barbetta rule, which was found to be outdated due to advances in technology and medicine. Royal Caribbean filed a motion for the 11th Circuit Court to revisit the case and to reconsider their judgment. The 11th Circuit responded with a unanimous “no.”

Can Royal Caribbean Fight This Decision?

The cruise line is still unsatisfied with the result of the trial and has the possibility of appealing the case to the Supreme Court.

Before the 11th Circuit’s ruling, cruise lines had virtually zero responsibility for the health of their passengers. In the past several years, however, cruise lines have developed their medical centers, equipment and the accreditation of doctors and nurses. Their medical facilities can provide high-quality emergency care, and because of this, it is necessary to hold them culpable for egregious mistakes that cause death and serious injuries.

For the latest news on the cruise line decision and other Florida medical malpractice cases, follow Shapiro Law Group on Twitter.

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