MIAMI — The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida has dismissed a class action brought against Royal Caribbean claiming the company should have canceled a cruise before a natural disaster.
Plaintiff Nikki McIntosh's claims against Royal Caribbean were dismissed without prejudice by Judge James Lawrence King, according to the Feb. 7 opinion.
The complaint stemmed from a Royal Caribbean cruise scheduled to leave in August 2017 from the Port of Galveston in Houston; the cruise was canceled the day Hurricane Harvey was set to make landfall. McIntosh argued the cruise line should have canceled the cruise sooner, saving her and thousands of others travel time in dangerous weather, according to background information in the opinion.
However, Royal Caribbean argued based on the ticket contract and McIntosh having no actual injuries, she has no case.
“Plaintiff herself does not allege that she sustained any injuries, what they were, how she was injured, or that she even travelled to the Houston area herself like the class of people she hopes to represent,” Judge Lawrence wrote in the opinion.
Lawrence cites Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly and Ashcroft v. Iqbal to detail the survival the motion to dismiss.
“A complaint must include enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face," and “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged,” Lawrence wrote in the opinion.
In the case discussion, Judge Lawrence cited two precedent cruise line cases -- Keefe v. Bahama Cruise Lines (1989) and Sorrels v. NCL 2015 -- specifically addressing McIntosh’s alleged emotional distress.
“To state a negligence claim, Plaintiff must allege that Defendant had a duty of care, Defendant breached that duty, that such breach was the actual and proximate cause of Plaintiff’s injury, and that Plaintiff suffered damages,” Judge Lawrence wrote in the opinion. “Further, ‘a plaintiff alleging (intentional infliction of emotional distress) faces an extremely high burden’ in the form of allegations of conduct so outrageous ‘as to go beyond of bounds of decency, and to be regarded as odious and utterly intolerable in a civilized community.’”
Lawrence said “fatal” to McIntosh’s complaint is that she herself has no evidence to prove harm.
“While she recites a laundry list of harms allegedly suffered by the class she hopes to represent, she fails to allege any specific harms that befell her as a result of Defendant's various alleged failures and negligent acts,” Lawrence wrote in the opinion.
“Finally, Plaintiff's intentional infliction of emotional distress claim is due to be dismissed with prejudice,” Lawrence wrote. "As noted, in order to maintain such a claim, a plaintiff must allege conduct on the part of Defendant so outrageous as to go beyond all bounds of decency, and to be regarded as odious and utterly intolerable in a civilized community.”
Lawrence also wrote that McIntosh's argument “fails to allege conduct sufficiently outrageous to meet the requirements of Florida law for such a claim, and must be dismissed.”