The Palm Beach Post is reporting that a lawsuit was filed this week against Royal Caribbean by families of children with autism who faced the February 6, 2016 storm which terrorized many passengers aboard the Anthem of the Seas.
The newspaper reported that “40 families of children with autism sued the luxury cruise company, saying Anthem of the Seas Storm officials were negligent in their actions to sail the Anthem of the Seas into the storm despite forecasts that predicted turbulent weather.”
The lawsuit filed this week states that “there were 40 families with Autism Spectrum Disorder children aboard the vessel and parents and aides did their best to protect themselves and their children who were being severely battered and traumatized.”
The lawsuit represents a potential public relations nightmare for the cruise line which, ironically, has collaborated with Autism on the Seas, a nonprofit national organization, since 2007, in developing cruise vacation services to accommodate adults and families living with children with special needs, including “autism, asperger syndrome, down syndrome, Tourette syndrome and cerebral palsy.”
Royal Caribbean said that the lawsuit lacks merit. The cruise line again commented that the Anthem encountered ‘unexpectedly severe storm’ but still kept “the ship safe … “
This may well prove to be a difficult case to defend given the fact that weather forecasts predicted 30+ foot waves and hurricane strength winds which rocked the cruise ship and damaged at least one of the ship’s Azipod propulsion units in the storm.
The court records reflect that John Ostrow of Miami and Alan Trachtman of New York City represent the families. Long time cruise line defense lawyer Curtis Mase of the Mase and Lara law firm in Miami is representing Royal Caribbean in the first two lawsuits arising out of the storm last month.