In Pettit v. Carnival Corp., the plaintiff was a passenger on a Carnival Breeze ship when she was hurt in a slip and fall accident. The incident took place on September 24, 2013. Before embarking on the ship, the plaintiff completed a standard Guest Ticket Contract Acknowledgment, agreeing to the clause that any future personal injury claims would be filed within one year in the Southern District of Florida. Specifically, the contract stated that any personal injury claim “shall not be maintainable unless filed within one year after the date of injury.”
On September 12, 2014, 12 days prior to the one-year time limit of the statute of limitations, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit in the state court for Miami-Dade County, Florida. Additionally, the plaintiff did not serve the cruise company until November 2014. On December 1, 2014, Carnival filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit based on the terms of the contact. Approximately two weeks later, the plaintiff filed her claim in federal court in Miami, Florida. Carnival responded by requesting the court grant its motion for summary judgment on the basis of the expired statute of limitations.
Summary judgment is granted when the moving party demonstrates that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact in the case. The moving party has the burden to establish that there are no genuine issues of material fact and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
The court noted that the plaintiff admitted that she filed the claim outside the appropriate time frame as mandated by the ticket contract. Despite this, the plaintiff asked the court to equitably toll the statute of limitations, arguing that Carnival’s conduct caused her to file her lawsuit in the wrong court.
The Southern District of Florida explained that a court may equitably toll the statute of limitations if the other party caused an unfair event that stopped the filing of a complaint in a timely manner. After reviewing the merits of the case, the court concluded that tolling the statute of limitations would not be appropriate, since the forum selection clause was clear that all disputes were to be litigated in the Southern District of Florida unless the lawsuit was of such a nature that the federal courts lacked subject matter jurisdiction. Carnival’s conduct did not indicate or suggest to the plaintiff that the forum selection clause was being waived in any way.
Lastly, the plaintiff did not serve the lawsuit upon Carnival for almost 60 days after she initially filed the claim in state court. As a result, the judge said that the plaintiff failed to show unfair conduct on the part of Carnival that would justify the remedy of equitable tolling. Thus, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s case.
Statute of limitations can vary in different types of personal injury cases, which is why it is imperative to consult a cruise ship accident attorney who has an in-depth knowledge of this area of law. At the Law Offices of Robert Dixon, our team has helped many South Florida clients, and we can help you as well. We can help you understand your rights and answer any question you may have. For more information, feel free to call us at 1-877-499-HURT (4878) or contact us online.
More Blog Posts:
Falling Merchandise Injuries in Florida, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, August 31, 2015
Eleventh Circuit Makes Evidentiary Ruling in Florida Slip-and-Fall Case Involving Expert Testimony, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, August 31, 2015
Young Ocala Couple and One Other Killed, Several Injured in Heartbreaking Lecanto Auto Accident, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, August 31, 2015