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Passengers file suit over nightmarish Carnival cruise

Feb. 22, 2013
Cape Coral woman's video from Carnival Triumph cru...
Cape Coral woman's video from Carnival Triumph cru...: Dee Tucker, of Cape Coral, was stranded aboard the Carnival Triumph cruise ship. She shared her videos with
Joe Eckert says fiancee Dee Tucker, who was on the cruise ship, is weighing her legal options. / Sarah Coward/


Passengers of the ill-fated Triumph cruise ship have started filing lawsuits against Carnival Cruise Lines, but a Cape Coral passenger hasn’t decided if she’ll join them.

After an engine fire wiped out power on the ship for three days this month, thousands of passengers lived without working toilets, lights and endured hours-long lines for food as the ship was slowly towed to port. Passengers arrived in Mobile, Ala., on Feb. 14.

Now, a couple is hoping for compensation by obtaining class-action status for a lawsuit filed against Carnival Cruise Lines. The suit filed Monday by Matt and Melissa Crusan of Oklahoma seeks to represent the more than 3,000 passengers who were on the Carnival Triumph when the fire broke out Feb. 10.

A judge must approve the motion to grant class-action status. Carnival requires all lawsuits be filed in Miami, where the liner is based.

Joe Eckert, whose Cape Coral fiancee, Dee Tucker, was on the ship, said they are weighing their options.

“At this point I really don’t know what we’re going to do,” Eckert said.

Eckert said Tucker has spoken briefly with an attorney, who said he would call back the couple with more information.

Eckert said the agreement cruise passengers sign seems pretty airtight, legally. Even so, he believes the cruise line displayed negligence by allowing the ship to set sail.

“In my opinion,” Eckert said, “they put everyone in danger by taking a ship out that wasn’t up to snuff.”

He was upset the cruise line kept changing its story. The first day, someone called him and said the ship Tucker was on was using emergency power and would dock in Galveston, Texas, on Wednesday. The next day, the cruise line said it would be towed to Mexico. A day later, Eckert was told this ship would be towed to Mobile, Ala., but it would take until Thursday.

“It was very frustrating,” he said.

Tucker is doing well, and is glad to be back, Eckert said. She is back at work as a patient care coordinator at Lee Memorial Hospital.

Texas resident Cassie Terry was the first to sue Carnival Cruise Lines, filing a lawsuit less than 24 hours after the boat docked.

Maritime attorneys say it’s difficult to win such cases unless plaintiffs can show actual injury or illness.

Miguel Fernandez, a Fort Myers attorney, said maritime lawsuits have a one-year statute of limitations, compared with 2-4 years in most other cases.

“The timeliness is going to be a big issue if people don’t know about it,” he said.

Forcing plaintiffs to file lawsuits in Miami also could be problematic, as many passenger could have a hard time finding a Miami attorney, Fernandez said.

Carnival has said it won’t comment on Triumph lawsuits.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Connect with this reporter: (Facebook), @MarisaKendall (Twitter)

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