U.S. judge: Customer suing Carnival for injuries can present evidence about lost X-rays

By Marian Johns | Jun 14, 2019

MIAMI — A federal court has ruled that a woman suing the Carnival Corporation will be permitted to present evidence about the cruise line losing her X-rays taken by the ship's medical personnel after she slipped and fell down a set of stairs during a 2016 cruise. 

According to the May 28 U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida filing, plaintiff Diane Williford petitioned the court for spoliation sanctions against Carnival after it failed to produce her X-rays taken after her fall. 

Williford filed suit against Carnival after her fall, alleging the ship's medical personnel "misread her X-rays" and falsely diagnosed her with a fractured hip that resulted in her being evacuated from the ship. 

Carnival argues that Williford's X-rays are unavailable due to "an unexpected technical issue" with the computer that was attached to the ship's X-ray machine. Carnival also argues that Williford's accident and incident reports are "work product material" that do not have to be produced in discovery. 

Williford alleges Carnival "had a duty" to "preserve" her X-rays and accident report. 

The court granted Williford's motion in part with what U.S. Magistrate Judge Jonathan Goodman called "more modest" alternatives. Goodman stated that although he thought Carnival did not intentionally deprive Williford of her X-rays, it may have been "reckless" in not taking steps to preserve them.

Goodman stated he will allow Williford to "have all the evidence currently on this record about the loss of the X-rays and their unavailability presented to the jury" or she can "prevent Carnival from introducing evidence" regarding the loss of the X-rays while having the "court advise the jury that Carnival had the images at one time, but they are no longer available."

Carnival will also be allowed to show evidence regarding the X-rays "loss or destruction" but must stipulate it did not show Williford had a fractured hip and that her "medical evacuation expenses" were due to the ship's medical staff "incorrect" diagnosis. 

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