Judge: Norwegian Cruise Line not on hook for child's salmonella caused by other child's diarrhea in pool

By Takesha Thomas | Mar 14, 2019

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MIAMI – A federal judge has handed Norwegian Cruise Lines a win in court, granting NCL summary judgment in a lawsuit brought by parents who sued the cruise line after their child, then 11 months old, became ill from salmonella while onboard an NCL vessel in 2016.

In the Feb. 26 ruling, U.S. District Judge Darrin Gayles sided with NCL in its dispute with William and Mary Tonelli, who claimed their daughter, Ella, became ill while on the Norwegian Cruise Liner ''Escape' in September 2016. Attorneys for NCL argued the Toneillis failed to demonstrate NCL had actual or constructive notice of salmonella on board the ship and no proof of causation.

Gayles ruled the Tonellis failed to establish "any facts indicating that NCL had notice of salmonella on the Escape or that babies in diapers could spread salmonella. Second, even assuming a dangerous condition existed and NCL was on notice that the condition existed, Ella has not established that NCL proximately caused her injury."

Attorneys for the Tonellis argued that NCL "had notice of the possibility of salmonella being transmitted by non-potty-trained children in the kiddie pool" and "failed to adequately patrol or monitor the kiddie pool to ensure that kids who were not potty-trained or in diapers were kept out."

Ella Tonelli became sick six days into the September 2016 cruise. According to court records, Ella was playing in the kiddie pool under the supervision of her aunt. A baby boy was also playing nearby in the pool and appeared to be wearing a diaper, court papers said. According to Ella's aunt, she "observed a brown substance around the boy’s diaper." Believing it was diarrhea, she pulled Ella from the water but not before Ella put a toy full of the pool water into her mouth. The next day, while still on board the cruise ship, Ella became sick with fever and diarrhea. Her symptoms were so severe that she suffered a seizure, court records said. The child was evacuated from the cruise ship to a Florida hospital for treatment where she was diagnosed with salmonella. The Tonellis claim NCL failed to provide adequate warning signs around the kiddie pool regarding the potential for contracting salmonella. 

Attorneys for NCL argued "that there is no evidence that it had notice that salmonella was a risk-creating condition on board the Escape, children in diapers posed a risk of spreading salmonella, or the pool operators were aware of a fecal incident in the pool prior to Ella’s removal."

Plaintiffs were represented by attorneys Louis Anthony Vucci and Eduardo Jesus Hernandez, each of Miami.

NCL was represented by attorneys Michael C. Gordon, Jeffrey E. Foreman and Noah D. Silverman, of the firm of Foreman Friedman PA, of Miami, and by NCL in-house counsel.

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Foreman Friedman Pa Norwegian Cruise Lines U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida

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