Franza v. Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd., No. 13-13067 (11th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff filed suit against Royal Caribbean for maritime negligence after her elderly father fell and hit his head while on one of Royal Caribbean's cruise vessels. Plaintiff's father died a week after the injury. Plaintiff alleged that Royal Caribbean is vicariously liable for the negligence of two of its employees, the onboard nurse and doctor, under an actual agency or apparent agency theory. The court concluded that the allegations in plaintiff's complaint plausibly support holding Royal Caribbean vicariously liable for the medical negligence of its onboard nurse and doctor. The court declined to adopt the Barbetta rule, which immunizes a shipowner from respondent superior liability whenever a ship's employees render negligent medical care to its passengers. The court found that the complaint in this cause plausibly establishes a claim against Royal Caribbean under the doctrine of actual agency, as well as the principles of apparent agency. Because plaintiff adequately pled all the elements of both actual and apparent agency, the court held that plaintiff may press her claims under either or both theories. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings.