Tourist tragedy sets legal precedent in US

  • Docked: In this file photo, Explorer of the Seas is seen at King’s Wharf, Dockyard

    Docked: In this file photo, Explorer of the Seas is seen at King’s Wharf, Dockyard


The death of a tourist visiting Bermuda on a cruise ship more than a decade ago has created a legal precedent in the United States.

The ruling by a US appeals court would allow those injured on cruise ships to sue cruise lines for medical negligence by ship staff.

Pasquale Vaglio, an 82-year-old retired New York City policeman, was visiting the Island on board the Explorer of the Seas in August 2001, when he fell and struck his head shortly after leaving the vessel for a sightseeing trip.

He was wheeled back to the ship’s medical unit, where a nurse told him that he should rest in his cabin. Mr Vaglio and his family returned to their cabin but his condition steadily worsened, leading his daughter to contact ship personnel about 90 minutes later.

Mr Vaglio was seen by the ship’s doctor, who sent him to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital. He was subsequently airlifted off the Island but died a week later.

His family subsequently launched a legal action against Royal Caribbean, the cruise line that operates the ship, alleging that the ship’s medical staff had acted negligently by failing to diagnose his condition and failing to carry out or recommend any diagnostic tests.

Lawyers for the cruise line, however, argued that the “Barbetta Rule” protects the owners of a ship from allegations of medical negligence by its medical staff, who they argued in this case were independent contractors.

The District Court for the Southern District of Florida dismissed the case, but the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently found that the existing rules were outdated, and noted that the doctor and nurse wore cruise ship uniforms and were presented as ship employees.

In a decision, Circuit Judge Stanley Marcus wrote: “Much has changed in the quarter-century since Barbetta. As we see it, the evolution of legal norms, the rise of a complex cruise industry and the progression of modern technology have erased whatever utility the Barbetta rule once may have had.”

The ruling is not the end of the legal matter but, if not overturned, it will give the Vaglio family an opportunity to argue their case before the courts.

You must be registered or signed-in to post comment or to vote.

Published Dec 31, 2014 at 8:00 am (Updated Dec 30, 2014 at 11:40 pm)

Tourist tragedy sets legal precedent in US

What you
Need to
Know
1. For a smooth experience with our commenting system we recommend that you use Internet Explorer 10 or higher, Firefox or Chrome Browsers. Additionally please clear both your browser's cache and cookies - How do I clear my cache and cookies?
2. Please respect the use of this community forum and its users.
3. Any poster that insults, threatens or verbally abuses another member, uses defamatory language, or deliberately disrupts discussions will be banned.
4. Users who violate the Terms of Service or any commenting rules will be banned.
5. Please stay on topic. "Trolling" to incite emotional responses and disrupt conversations will be deleted.
6. To understand further what is and isn't allowed and the actions we may take, please read our Terms of Service
7. To report breaches of the Terms of Service use the flag icon

  • Take Our Poll

    • Do you think the Government has taken the necessary steps to protect the public against the risk of the Covid-19 virus?
    • Yes
    • 55%
    • No
    • 45%
    • Total Votes: 5216
    • Poll Archive

    Today's Obituaries

    eMoo Posts