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Does First lawsuit Filed Over Crippled Carnival Cruise Have Merit?
Hours after stepping off the crippled Carnival cruise ship Triumph, a Texas woman is already suing over her bad experience on board.
How good of a chance do these disappointed vacationers have to get any money?
When you go on a cruise, passengers usually sign paperwork that limits their ability to sue. Another factor in this case is that no one was really physically hurt, so victims would be suing over emotional damages.
In the lawsuit filed in Houston, the paperwork claims the woman suffered 'physical and emotional harm, including anxiety, nervousness and the loss of the enjoyment of life."
"I think at the end of the day Carnival will pay tens of millions of dollars to get this thing resolved," predicts one Austin attorney.
Austin passengers cheered triumphantly as they stepped off a plane in Austin, finally home from their disastrous cruise aboard the Triumph.
"Our understanding is that ship's had problems the past couple of cruises," said one passenger. "We never should have been on it."
The passengers who were on the cruise ship were stranded for five days in conditions they described as unsanitary and downright scary.
"Very scared, very scared," said another passenger. "I was looking at the lifeboats looking like they aren't going to get everyone off that cruise."
For some passengers, like Krystal Womack, the experience on board was at times overwhelming.
"I broke down I cried a little. I got a little emotional. I just want to be off of this boat," said Womack.
But is that enough to sue for emotional distress?
"I think a case like this is really more PR than law," said Austin Attorney Adam Loewy. "The truth is Carnival should compensate these people much more than just their ticket back and a free cruise in the future."
Loewy says that without physical injuries from the disastrous vacation the lawsuit could be tough to win. But he predicts Carnival would rather settle cases quickly and quietly and avoid a public court-room battle.
"A company like Carnival wants this story to go away," he said. "The worst thing for Carnival is to have a very detailed investigation showing they knew that this boat was not safe because it could really hurt their business in the future."
For passengers thinking about suing, Loewy advises them not to sign anything or accept offers from Carnival without talking to an attorney first.
By Karen Kiley