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St. Petersburg, Florida

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Chrissie Cole
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Case Against Carnival Cruise Refused by Supreme Court

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A case to determine whether Carnival Corp. can be held responsible for the medical malpractice of its onboard physicians was refused by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The case was based on a federal maritime precedent that says, “cruise lines are not liable for the actions of their doctors.”

The case involved a 14-year-old Michigan girl, who boarded the Carnival Ecstasy in March 1997 suffering from abdominal and back pain, diarrhea and vomiting. The ship’s onboard physician, an independent contractor, misdiagnosed her illness as influenza.

She was later diagnosed with a ruptured appendix and an abdominal infection that left her sterile, a suit filed in Miami-Dade Court said.

The suit was initially dismissed by trial court. The 3rd District Court of Appeals in Miami reinstated it in 2003, after finding the doctor was Carnivals agent and therefore they could be held responsible for his actions.

In February, the Florida Supreme Court disagreed and ruled in favor of Carnival, saying Florida courts “must adhere to federal principles of harmony and uniformity when applying to U.S. maritime law.