May 01, 2013

Destination Disasters: Who’s at Fault?

Kathleen Balthrop Havener

My calculated guess would be that nearly every family in America (and perhaps in the world) who is “on the grid” discussed premises liability during the week I wrote this article, whether they knew it or not. As I think about premises liability, the Carnival Cruise ship Triumph is being tugged into port in Mobile, Alabama, and will soon be subjected to what I hope will be the most thorough cleaning job ever conducted on a cruise ship or in a hotel anywhere, ever.

As we all watched the ship waddling into port that night guided by three tugboats, we listened to the endless stories of too little food, five working toilets for 4,000 passengers and crew, little to no ventilation below decks, and the plans to evacuate the disabled, elderly, and infant passengers. It was difficult not to be sickened by the plight of those involved. The night after the ship docked, the Saturday Night Live cast parodied the ship’s plight. The actor playing the role of the “ship’s comedian” wailed piteously, “There is dookey slidin’ down the walls, man. How’d dookey get on the wall?”

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