Royal Caribbean Denied Summary Judgement in Passenger Death Lawsuit

According to an article in the Florida Record, “Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. isn’t entitled to its motion for summary judgement in a wrongful death case, the United States District Court in the Southern District of Florida ruled on October 17.”

This refers a case in which Todd Skokan and Lisa Skokan sued Royal Caribbean for the wrongful death of their son, Nathan Skokan in December of 2016 aboard the Independence of the Seas. Nathan fell overboard.

The family had filed an Amended Complaint earlier in 2018, stating three claims for relief
for wrongful death under the Death of the High Seas Act, intentional infliction of emotional distress and false imprisonment. The defendant, Royal Caribbean sought a summary judgment on all counts. The court denied that judgement (see below with full PDF here).

Read the entire ruling here.

A summary judgment refers to the defendant asking for a favorable ruling from the court on the basis that the plaintiff no genuine issues to be tried. In this case, the court agreed with the plaintiffs.

Per the article, “Todd and Lisa Skokan sued the popular cruise line after their son, Nathan Skokan, fell off the side of the cruise ship during a family vacation. Skokan was intoxicated when he went to the outer portion of the ship on the 12th floor with fellow passengers he met while on the cruise. One of them joked that they should jump overboard, and the deceased acted as if he was throwing himself on the handrail, but instead he fell. His parents said their son accidentally fell because he lost his balance, and they sued Royal Caribbean for negligence, wrongful death via Death of the High Seas Act, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and false imprisonment. The court detailed why it decided to deny Royal Caribbeans’ motion for summary judgement.”

The court noted Royal Caribbean was at fault on a number of issues, including:

– Serving the passenger too much alcohol

– Not launching rescue boats until 2 hours after the passenger went overboard

– Failing to have crew ready to respond to an emergency

– Failing to prepare crew with search and rescue techniques

– Indicating the passenger took his own life and that it was not an accident

– Restricting family to their cabin after the incident

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