MIAMI — A judge has ordered sanctions ahead of a trial against the Carnival cruise ship company, which claims to have lost the footage of a woman allegedly slipping and falling near the buffet on one of its ships.
U.S. District Judge Jonathan Goodman, on the bench of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, issued a 50-page ruling on Dec. 4, ordering the sanctions in the lawsuit filed by Ruby Sosa against Carnival Corporation.
Sosa sued Carnival for damages after she allegedly slipped and fell on board the ship Freedom. She stated that she fell in a buffet area.
She argued that security officer James Desouza, in charge of the CCTV, "failed to complete his investigation because 'halfway through, for reasons unknown and never explained,' Desouza unilaterally decided to stop his investigation," the ruling said.
Carnival denied acting in bad faith, and said it did not know how or why the security camera footage went missing after a security officer watched it and took steps to download the video into a computer drive.
As stated in the ruling, "Sosa, a passenger who alleges that she slipped and fell on some water while aboard a cruise operated by defendant Carnival Corporation, argues that she is entitled to sanctions because Carnival cannot produce the closed-circuit television ('CCTV') video of her fall and cannot explain why it went missing."
She also contended, as of the document, that "the lost CCTV footage, together with other factors, is circumstantial evidence of Carnival’s bad faith, which entitles her to an adverse inference jury instruction or an order striking some of Carnival’s affirmative defenses."
"Carnival did not in any way discipline the security officer who investigated the incident and allegedly downloaded (or tried to download) the video footag," the ruling said.
In the ruling, Judge Goodman gave two options to Sosa, which were "(1) She can have all the evidence about the CCTV video and its unavailability presented to the jury," and "(2) She can prevent Desouza and other Carnival witnesses from testifying about the contents of CCTV footage (and their efforts to preserve it) and simply have the Court advise the jury that Carnival had CCTV video footage at one time, but it is no longer available."
Goodman ordered Sosa to advise the court regarding her choice by Feb. 5, 2019.