SCULLION v. Carnival Corporation et al

Filing 25

ORDER GRANTING Defendants' 12 Motion to Dismiss Counts II & IV and DENYING Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Count III. Signed by Judge Federico A. Moreno on 6/3/2024. See attached document for full details. (dyg)

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UN ITED STATES D ISTRICT COU RT FOR THE SO U TH ERN D ISTRICT OF FLO RIDA M iam iDivision Case N um ber:23-24817-CIV -M O R EN O M ON ICA SCU LLION , Plaintiff, V S. CARN IV AL CORPORA TIO N ,ON E SPA w o ltlr LLc,and oN E SPA W O RLD (BAHAMAS)LTD., D efendants. O RD ER G R AN TIN G D EFEN D AN TS'M O TIO N TO D ISM ISS C O U NT S 11 A N D IV A N D D ENY IN G D EFEN DA N TS'M O TIO N TO D ISM ISS C O UN T 111. This case involves a vacation cruise m assage Gtgone wrong.'' Plaintiff alleges thatduring her m assage on the Carnival vessel, a m asseuse em ployed a m aneuver that tzltim ately caused Plaintiffto suffer severe and permanent injuries. Plaintiff filed suitagainstDefendants for vicariousliability and negligence in this Court. THIS CAUSE cam e before the Courtupon Defendants'M otion to DismissPlaintiff's Amended Complaint(D.E.12),filed on Februarv 6.2024. THE COURT hasconsidered the m otion,the response in opposition,the reply,and pelinentportionsofthe record. Forthereasons setfol' th below,theCoul'tgrantsDefendants'M otion toDismissCount11(NegligenceAgainst Carnival),CountIV (NegligentFailuretoW arn AgainstDefendants)with leavetoamend,and denie 'sDefeùdants'M otionstoDismissCountIIIt'NegligenceAgainstOneSpaW orld). FA CTS Thefollowing factsfrom the Complaintazeassumed to betruefozpurposesofevaluating the M otions to D ism iss. In late January 2023,Plaintiff M onica Scullion w as a passenger aboard theCarnival-ownedcrtziseship,theCarnivalRadiance.(ECFNo.12at!!10,16q.W hilePlaintiff wasaboardthevessel,shegotamassage.Lld at!17q.DefendantCarnivalhadexclusivecontrol ofthevessel,andDefendantsOneSpaW orldLLC andOneSpaW orld(Bahàmas)Ltd.(GçoneSpa W orld'') owned and operated the spa aboard the vesselwherein itprovided spa services to Camival'spassengers.L. ld at!! 11,12)., Duringthecourseofthemassage,Plaintiffnotifiedthe masseusethatthemaneuverbeingperformedtoherbackwashurting herleg. Lld.atjg181.The masseuseignoredPlaintiffsrequestto stop,andPlaintiff'spain continued. g.JJ). Afterawhile, Plaintiffslegwentnum b,andPlaintifftoldthem asseusetostop againbecauseher1eg wentnum b. (. J#.1. Themasseuse stopped and began to massage Plaintiffsieg. gf#.l. Ultimately,Plaintiff 1 allegesthata1loftheforegoingcausedhertosuffersevereandpermanentinjuries,whichrequired surgery. E.J#.). Pfaintiffalso allegesthatDefendants knew or should have lcnown that itwashighly probably forpassengerstobe injuredby crewmembersand/orspaemployees,consideringprior similarincidentsoccuningonvesselsbyOneSpaW orldemployees.!202.Plaintiffcites to fourincidents. On M ay 18,2022,apassengeraboard a RoyalCaribbean vesselwas severely injuredwhen shereceived an intentionally aggressive,unwanted,andnegligentmassage. L1d). OnDecember4,2021,apassengerwasaboard aCarnivalvesselandwasseverely injured when shereceivedadangerous,forceful,andimproperbnmboomassage.Ef#.j.OnSeptember16,2016, apassengeraboardaCarnivalvesselwasseverelyinjured when shereceived abamboomassage during which unreasonableand/orimpropermassagetecbniqueswereused. L1d?. On July 25, 2 2015,a passengeraboard a Carnivalvesselwasseverely injured when he received ahot-rock massagewhichincludedanaggressivemanipulationofthepassenger'shead,neck,andback.L1d ). Asaresult,Plaintifffiled thislawsuitagainstCnrnivalCop oration,One SpaW orld LLC, and One Spa W orld (Bahnmas)Ltd. Plaintiffassertsfour counts againstDefendants for:(1) vicariousliabilityforbatteryagainstDefendants;(11)negligenceagainstCarnival;(111)negligence againstOne Spa W orld;and (IV)negligentfailure to warn againstDefendants. Defendants subsequently filed theirm otion to dismisscountsI1,111,and1V . LEGAL STANDARD:RULE 12(b)(6)M OTION TO DISM ISS ln deciding a Rule 12(b)(6)motion to dismiss forfailure to state a claim,the Coul't considersonly thefourcornersofthecom plaint.A courtm ustacceptastrue the facts as setforth in the com plaint. '$To survive a m otion to dism iss, plaintiffs m ust do m ore than m erely state legal conclusions,''instead plaintiffsm ustçlallege som e specific facm albasisforthose conclusionsor facedismissaloftheirclaims.''Jaclcsonv.BellsouthTelecomms.,372F.3d 1250,1263(11thCir. 2004). W hen rulingon a motionto dismiss,a courtmustview thecomplaintin thelightmost favorabletotheplaintiffandaccepttheplaintiffswell-pleaded factsastnle.SeeSt.Joseph' sHosp., Inc.v.Hosp.Corp.ofzqm.,795 F.2d 948,953 (11th Cir.1986).Thistenet,however,doesnot applytolegalconclusions.SeeAshcrojtv.Iqbal,556U.S.662,129S.Ct.1937,1949,173L.Ed. 2d868(2009).M oreover,Içgwjhilelegalconclusionscanprovidetheframeworkofacomplaint, theymustbesupportedbyfactualallegations.''1d.at1950.Those(lgfjactualallegationsmustbe enough to raise a right to relief aboke the speculative level on the assum ption that all of the complaint'sallegationsaretnle.'' BellAtl.Corp.v.Twombly,550 U .S.544,545,127 S.Ct.1955, 3 167 L.Ed.2d929 (2007). In short,thecomplaintmustnotmerely allegemisconduct,butmust demonstratethatthepleaderisentitled torelief SeeIqbal,129 S.Ct.at1950. FED ER AL M A RITIM E LA W lncidentsoccurring onnavigablew atersandbearingasignificantrelationship to traditional m aritim e activities are governed by m aritim e law. See Kermarec v. Compagnie Generale Transatlantique,358 U.S.625,79 S.Ct.406,3L.Ed.2d 550 (1959);Kee. R v.Bahama Cruise Line,lnc.,867F.2d1318,1321(11thCir.1989).Itiswellsettledthatthe1aw govenzingpassenger suitsagainstcruiselinesisthegeneralm aritim elaw.See,e.g.,Schoenbaum ,Thom asJ.,Admiralty andM aritimeLaw 53-5(4thEd.2004);Keefe,867F.2dat1321. AsDefendantspointout,according totheallegationsoftheAmended Complaint,Plaintiff wasaçtpayingpassenger''aboard theCarnivalRadiance.Accordingly,theCourtholdsthatfederal m aritim e1aw appliesto theinstantaction. DISC U SSIO N Asstatedsupra,DefendantsmovefordismissalofCount11(negligenceagainstDefendant Carnival);CountIII(negligenceagainstDefendantsOneSpaW orld);andIV (negligentfailureto warn againsta11Defendants). LEG A L STAN D AR D - N EG LIG EN C E & NE GL IG ENT FAILU R E TO W A RN (sM aritim e1aw governsactionsarising from alleged tortscomm itted aboard aship sailing innavigablewaters.''Guevarav.NCL (Bah. )Ltd.,920F.3d710,720(citingKeefev.Bah.Cruise Lfnc,Inc.,867F.2d 1318,1320-21(11thCir.1989:.çtlnanalyzingamaritimetortcase,gcourts) 4 reiy on generalprinciplesofnegligencelaw.'' Chaparro v.CarnivalCorp.,693 F.3d 1333,1336 (11th Cir.2012)(quotingDaiglev,PointLanding Inc.,616F.2d825,827(5th Cir.1980:. ITO pleadnegligence,aplaintiffmustallegethat(1)thedefendanthadadutytoprotecttheplaintiff from a particular injury;(2) the defendant breached thatduty;(3) the breach actually and proximately causedtheplaintiffsinjury;and (4)theplaintiffsuffered actualharm .'' Chaparro, 693 F.3d at1336. M oreover,itisblack letlerlaw thatç$ashipownerowesthe duty ofexercising reasonable care towards those lawfully aboard the vesselwho are notm embers ofthe crew .'' Chaparro, 693 F.3d at 1336 (11th Cir. 2012) (citing Kermarec v. Compagnie Generale Transatlantique,358 U.S.625,630,79 S.Ct.406,409,3 L.Ed.2c1550 (1959))(emphasisin original). Tostateaclaim fornegligentfailuretowarn,Plaintiffmustallege:(1)thatDefendantlcnew ofthe allegedly dangerous conditions;and (2)thatthe condition was notopen and obvious. Carrollv.Carnival Corp.,955 F.3d 1260, 1264 (11th Cir.2020) (citing Guevara v.NCL (Bahamas)ZJJ,920F.3d710,720n.5(11thCir.2019:. Asaprerequisiteto imposing liability forboth claim sofnegligence and negligentfailure tow anl,thecarrierm usthavehad actualorconstnlctivenoticeoftherisk-creating condition.See Keefe,867,F.2d at1322.(W ctualnoticeexistswhen thedefendantltnowsaboutthedangerous condition.''Brewton v.CarnivalCorp.,No.23-23785-C1V-M 01V ,2024U.S.Dist.LEXIS 33779 (S.D.Fla.Feb.27,2024)(citingHollandv.CarnivalCorp.,50F.4th 1088,1095(11thCir.2022( 9. Constructive notice exists where çdthe shipowner ought to have know n of the peril to its passengers.'' Keep ,867 F.3d at1322. Constructivenotice can beestablishedwhen aplaintiff plausiblyallegesthat:(1)thehazardouscondition existed t&forasufficientlength oftime'';or(2) 5 substantially sim ilarconditionsm usthave caused substantially sim ilarpriorincidents. Holland, 50 F.4th at1096. Defendants argue that Plaintiffs notice allegations are insufficient to establish that Defendants had notice of the allegedly dangerous condition thatcaused the m assage incident. Thus,DefendantsurgetheCourttodism isscount1I,111,and IV ofPlaintiffsAm ended Com plaint. TheCourtaddressesthenoticeargumentson both sidesbelow. LEGAL ANALY SIS -NOTICE A .Acm alNotice To plead actualnotice,thedefendantm ustknow ofthedangerouscondition.SeeHolland, 50 F.4th at1095.However,Plaintifffocusessolely on constnzctivenotice,notactualnotice. On review ofthe Com plaint,PlaintiffdoesnotallegethatDefendantsacm ally knew ofthedangerous condition,only thatDefendants knew orshould haveknown (Gitwasreasonably foreseeable for passengersto be injured''atld Cthighly probably forpassengersto beinjured.'' Thus,theCourt findsthatPlaintifffailsto establish thatDefendants had actualnotice ofthe dangerousmassage condition. B . Constructive N otice To plead constructive notice,the defendantmustestablish with evidence that (1)the defective condition existed fora suffcientperiod oftimeto invitecorrective measures,or(2) thzough substantially sim ilarincidentsin which conditionssubstantially similarto theoccurrence in question m usthave causedtheprioraccident. See Guevara,920 F.3d at720. First,Plaintiff does allege thatthe defective condition existed for a suffcientperiod of tim e.However,theseallegationsarecompletely conclusory and arenotaccom panied by factsor details. The meatofthe argument(on both sides)hinges on the second Gssubstantially similaz incidents''prong.Plaintiffarguesthatherallegationsofconstnzctivenoticearesufficientby listing four sim ilar incidents occurring on vessels by One Spa W orld employees. Further,industry standardshavebeen implem ented forcrewm embersand spa employeesto abideby professional standards rendering servicesto warn passengers,which meansthatDefendants knew orshould haveknown ofpossible dangersto avoid. Defendantsarguefirstthatthe incidentsreferenced in the Am ended Complaintare notsubstantially sim ilar. Further,Defendants m ite thatPlaintiff failed to state whatspecificstandards Calmivaland One Spa W orld allegedly violated,how they wereviolated,andhow thestandardsrelatetonoticeoftheallegedrisky condition in thiscase. i. Count11.NegligenceagainstDefendantCarnival W ithrespecttoCount11(negligenceagainstCarnival),theCourtagreeswith Defendants. W' hilePlaintiffiscon-ectthatidenticalcil-cum stancesarenotrequired,thereisaline.SeeSorrels v.NCL (Bahamas)Ltd,796,F.3d 1275,1287 (11thCir.2015).Itistz' uethatin a11theincidents alleged,the One SpaW orldDefendantsowned,operated,and m anaged the spaaboardthevessel. Butthe Courtfindsithard to im aginethatDefendantCarnivalwould bep 'uton noticebecauseof that.There isa layerofcontroland communication between Carnivalcontrolling thevesseland the One Spa D efendants controlling the spa w ithin the vessel. A lso,considering that it is not alleged that these incidents involved the sam e m asseuse,one of the incidents was not even involving Carnival,andthemassagesthemselvesweredifferent(bambooandhot-rock massages as opposed to the Swedish massage here),itis tmlikely thatDefendantCarnivalwasputon constructive notice. Even though the incidenton the RoyalCazibbean wasa sim ilarm assage,itdoesnotput DefendantCarnivalon notice. ln Brewton v.CarnivalCorp.,this Coul'tfoupd thatconstructive noticewasproperlypled. No.23-23785-C1V-1101V ,2024 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 33779 (S.D.Fla. Feb.27,2024). TheCourtcitedtocasesthatwerenotidentical,butinvolved excursionsoffthe vesselthat defendant Carnival was also involved in (unlike the instance here with Royal Caribbean).Seeftf at6-8.Similarly,in Spottsv,CarnivalCorp.,No.23-CV-22906,2024W L 111921,at*3(S.D.Fla.Jan.10,2024),thenoticeofslip andfallincidentsaroseinthesamefleet astheoneon whichtheplaintiffwasinjured. Excluding theincidentarising on theRoyalCaribbean,theCourtstillfindstheallegations ofpriorincidentsconclusory,asthereisno realexplanation ofwhich priorincidentsputCarnival on notice orhow the incidentsputCarnivalon notice. Other courts in thisdistricthave found sim ilarly.l Thefactthatthe One SpaW orld Defendantsm anaged,owned,oroperatedthe spaon aCarnivalvesselisnotenough toputDefendantCarnivalonnotice.Thefactthatconsumersw ere formerly injured on aCarnivalcnzisevesseldueto an improperbamboo massageandhot-rock m assage does notinform ornotify Carnivalthat itshould be similarly aware ofthe allegedly dangerousSwedish massageinthiscase.Itisnotenough thatPlaintiffallegethatallthem assages 1SeeSegarrav.CarnivalCory,No.2l-CV-23661,2022U.S.Dist.LEXIS 160724,at*8(S. D.Fla.,Sept6,2022) (findingthattheallegationofpriorsimilarincidentswithoutmorefactsisconclusoryanddoesnotpleadnotice); Hollandv.CarnivalColp.,2021WL 86877,at*3(findingthattiplaintiffassertionofpriorslipandfallhlcidentsis conclusoryandthereforeinsufficienttoestablishthatCarnivalwasonnoticeofthehazardwhichcauseinjuryto Plaintiff'');SeeSerra-cruzv.CarnivalCorp.,No.18-CV-23033,2019WL 13190647,at*8(S.D.Fla.Feb.12, 2019)(findingthatbecausePlaintiffdidnotexplainwhichprioraccidentsputCarnivalonnoticeorhow the incidentsputCarnivalonNoticetheyfailedtostateaclaim fornegligence);Polancov.CarnivalCorp.,No.IO-CV21716,2010WL l1575228,at*3,2010U.S.Dist.LEXIS 150857,at*7(S.D.Fla.Aug.11,2010)(holdingthe allegationsofpriorsim ilarincidentswereCtbereflofinform ation''and thattheplaintiffscom plainttçthereforefailsto stateaclaim fornegligence.''). 8 wereçsforcefuland improper''and Ctimpropertechniqueswereused.A smentioned above,both the techniquesand masseuses were entirely different. Thus,the Coul'tholdsthatthe priorincidents alleged by Plaintiffarenotsim ilazenough to give Carnivalconstructivenotice. Further,the Courtfinds unpersuasive thatD efendants m ay be on notice m erely Cçbased on policies and industry standards for crem nembers to abide by professional standards when rendering services to and to warn passengers like the Plaintiff,ofpossible dangers.'' Plaintiff m akesa blanketstatem entsaying thatDefendantsare incorrectwhen itcom es to çspolicies and procedures''and çsindustry standards''butproceedsto citeH eller,which isunrelated to Glabiding by professionalstandards''and only speakson awarenessthrough inspections. 191F.Supp.3d at 1358. On theargumentofnoticetllrough inspection,the caselaw doesnotprovide supporthere. PlaintiffcitestoKennedyv.CarnivalCorp.,385F.Supp.3d 1302,1331(S.D.Fla.2019),where the courtfotm d sufficiency of constnzctive notice through inspection. There,the defendantknew orshould have known ofthe possible dangers associated with the water intlatables orchanging tidesduring inspection. 1d H owever,here,a generalinspection ofthespato ensurethatthe spa was reasonably safe for passengers is inadequate. The allegations pertain to the dangers of im properm assage techniques and m aneuversand aggressive and intentionalm anipulation during themassagebyaspecificmasseuse.Alzinspection (unlessduringthemassage)doesnotsuffce. Accordingly,the CourtgrantsDefendants'm otion todism isscountIl- negligenceagainst D efendantCarnival. Count111:NegligenceagainsttheOneSpa WorldDe# ndants The Courtreaches a different conclusion on whether the One Spa W orld Defendants received constructivenotice. Asstated above,al1fourincidentsin thiscase involvetheOneSpa W orld Defendants. W hen separating One Spa W orld and Cnrnival(and focusing on One Spa W orld),itdoesnotmatlerwhichvesselorcruisecompanyadangerousmassageincidentoccurred on.In both Brew ton v.CarnivalCorp.,N o.23-23785-C1V -M ORE,2024 U .S.D ist.LEX IS 33779 (S.D.Fla.Feb.27,2024)andSpottsv.CarnivalCorp.,No.23-CV-22906,2024 W L 111921(S.D. Fla.Jan.10,2024)thepriorsubstantiallysimilarconditionsal1involvedthesamefleetorvessel. Similarly,here,themassageincidentsa11involve the One Spa W orld Defendants. W here above discussing count II,the variables like different t/pes of naassages and differentcnlise companiestook DefendantCarnivaloutofthe realm ofconstructive notice,the Courtfinds thatthere are less variables and differences when it comes to the One Spa W orld Defendants. Simply put,itis alleged thatthe One Spa W orld Defendantsowned,operated,Or managed spas where multiple massage incidents that severely injured consumers occurred. Because the One Spa W orld Defendantswere more directly providing spa servicesto Ca 't' nival passengers,thereislessofaneed by Plaintiffto explain how theOne SpaW orld Defendantswere puton noticeatthisstageofthe case.One SpaW orld hasmoreoversightto thespaand massages in generalthan Carnival. Thus,the CourtfindsthatPlaintiffhassuffciently alleged constructivenoticeand denies Defendants'm otion to dism issCountIll- negligenceagainstDefendants One SpaW orld. 10 iii. CountIV:NegligentFailureto WarnAgainstDe# ndants Asstated abovein section I& ii,Plaintiffdidnotsufficiently pleadthatDefendantCxrnival was puton constnlctive notice butsufficiently pled thatthe One Spa W orld Defendants were. Thus,the Courtgrants Defendants'motion to Dism iss CountIV as it comm ingles allegations between DefendantCarnivaland Defendants One Spa W orld. The Coul'twillallow Plaintiffto am end theAmended Complaintto clarify the allegationsin CountIV . C O N CLU SION Accordingly,itis ORDERED AND ADJUD GED thattheM otion to Dism issCount11is GRAN TED ,Count1I1isDENIED,and CountIV isGRAN TED with leaveto amend. DONE AND ORDERED in Cham bersatM iami,Florida,this ,1 of 2024. FED E A .M OREN O > 1 D STA TES D ISTRICT JUD GE Copiesfum ishedto: Cotm selofRecord

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