Woman with hip injury can sue Steiner spa company, but not Carnival Cruise Lines, court rules

By Charmaine Little | Nov 5, 2018

MIAMI—Dawn Dawsey, who claims a masseuse on a Carnival cruise fractured her hip, won't be able to sue Carnival Corporation, but she can proceed with her lawsuit against Steiner Transocean Ltd, which operates the onboard spa where Dawsey got her massage.

The United States District Court in the Southern District of Florida’s Miami Division on Oct. 22 granted Carnival its motion for summary judgment, effectively dismissing Dawsey's lawsuit, but declined to do the same for the spa company.

Dawsey was aboard Carnival’s cruise ship Elation when she received what she said was a very uncomfortable bamboo massage that led to a hip injury requiring surgery, medical treatment and rehabilitation. Dawsey sued Carnival, Steiner Transocean Ltd, and the company’s masseuse, Nerissa Pantaleon, for negligence. Pantaleon, however, apparently was never served.

Steiner and Carnival both filed motions for summary judgment, arguing that Dawsey had hip injuries before her massage and she made no complaints during or immediately after it. Dawsey and the defendants presented expert testimony, with Dawsey's expert saying the massage caused her injury and the other expert disagreeing.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Jonathan Goodman ruled that Steiner had not provided evidence that Dawsey was dishonest or that she  had a prior injury, and he denied Steiner's motion.

As for Carnival, however, the court said Dawsey is barred from pursuing for the first time an agency theory against Carnival—in other words, she could not now claim that the cruise line had direct culpability in her case. It ruled that Carnival did its due diligence when it determined Steiner, a major provider of onboard spa services that has worked with Carnival for 20 years, was capable of operating a fitness spa on its cruise ship. Dawsey failed to provide any evidence that showed Steiner or Pantaleon weren’t fit to give bamboo massages to her or any other passenger, and that Carnival should have known that, so Dawsey has no standing to sue the cruise ship company.

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Carnival Cruise Line U.S. District Court Southern District of Florida Miami Division

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