A jury in a federal court in Miami found that Carnival Cruise Line owes $10.2 million to a woman who claimed that a crew member raped her during a 2018 cruise.
The verdict delivered Tuesday in the Southern District of Florida determined that as a Carnival employee, Fredy Anggara committed sexual assault against a woman who filed a lawsuit in 2019 as a Jane Doe. The jury found Carnival liable for $243,000 of past and future medical and psychological expenses and $10 million of additional damages for physical and emotional distress.
“It’s my understanding it is the largest verdict ever [for] a sexual assault victim against a major cruise line,” said Daniel Courtney, the lawyer for the woman who filed the suit.
Both the woman and Carnival Corporation can file motions to seek a different payment. Courtney said that process could drag on for years. The jury found that Carnival was not negligent in the assault and that Anggara did not intentionally inflict emotional distress upon the plaintiff.
Carnival Corp. released a written statement saying it denies the allegations in the lawsuit and intends to appeal the decision.
As a crime that often carries long-lasting, life-altering repercussions for victims, sexual assault is sadly all too common. According to the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence, approximately one in six women in Florida has or will be raped at some point in their lives, and one in five men have experienced sexual violence other than rape.
While sexual assaults and similar violent acts are crimes, victims may also be able to pursue a civil lawsuit against a third party in certain circumstances. For example, if the assault was committed by an employee of a business, school, or other organization, the employer could potentially be held liable.
For victims of sexual assault and other violent acts, the road to physical, emotional, and financial healing can be long and stressful. If a third party such as an employer could have helped prevent the act, pursuing a civil suit against them may help the victim secure and adequate recovery and potentially prevent similar incidents in the future. Civil cases are one of the few ways that survivors of sexual assault can take control back of their lives. The criminal justice systems treat them as witnesses, but a civil case puts them in the driver’s seat.
In Florida, an employer is vicariously liable for an employee’s tortious conduct where the conduct occurs within the scope of the employment.
VICARIOUS LIABILITY OF EMPLOYERS
Florida employers can be liable for the conduct of their employees in two different ways. One is vicarious liability. The other requires active negligence on the part of the employer.
An employer can be vicariously liable for the act of an employee committed (1) within the scope of employment, or (2) during the course of employment and to further a purpose or interest of the employer.
The other way of holding an employer accountable is through its own negligence. An employer is liable where it negligently hires and/or retains an employee. This concept of employer liability for negligent hiring or retention of an employee goes back in Florida jurisprudence to at least 1954. The Florida Supreme Court explained that the concept is grounded on negligence of the defendant in knowingly keeping a dangerous servant on the premises which defendant knew or should have known was dangerous and incompetent and liable to do harm to the tenants.
As with other negligence cases, victims pursuing a claim of negligent supervision or negligent hiring must demonstrate the following:
- The defendant’s employer had a duty to the victim, such as the duty to maintain a safe environment for employees and customers of the business.
- The defendant breached this duty, either intentionally or unintentionally.
- The victim suffered damages (including the costs of treating physical injuries, counseling needed to address emotional trauma, etc.), and those damages would not have occurred if the defendant had not breached their duty.
Generally, sexual assaults and batteries by employees are held to be outside the scope of an employee’s employment and, therefore, insufficient to impose vicarious liability on the employer.
However, some exceptions to this rule do apply.
- Where “the servant purported to act or speak on behalf of the principal and there was reliance upon apparent authority, or he was aided in accomplishing the tort by the existence of the agency relation.
- Where the employer is a common carrier for hire to the public, and the tort or attack is by an employee upon a passenger while the contract for transport is being accomplished.
WHO SHOULD I CALL?
For over two decades, the lawyers at Suarez & Montero have been helping accident victims and their families collect just financial compensation and see justice for their injuries and losses.
Call our law firm today at (305) 631-1911 to speak with one of our personal injury lawyers who will be able to inform you of your eligibility towards compensation for your injuries and losses that you may have incurred due to a recent accident.