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Miami-Dade County, FL

The plaintiff was a 44-year-old female cabin steward on board the defendant Royal Caribbean’s cruise ship when she claimed she was struck in the knee by a piece of heavy luggage. The plaintiff alleged, under the Federal Jones Act, that the defendant was negligent and allowed an unseaworthy condition in the form of unsecured luggage. The plaintiff also alleged that she did not receive prompt, proper and adequate medical care and treatment for her injury. As a result, the plaintiff claimed that she underwent an unsuccessful knee surgery and ultimately unnecessary knee replacement surgery. The defendant questioned how the plaintiff’s knee injury occurred and argued that she received prompt and appropriate medical treatment.

The plaintiff was working aboard the defendant’s Rhapsody of the Seas in May of ________. She testified that she was reaching up to retrieve a passenger’s suitcase which was stacked very high when the heavy suitcase fell down and struck her in the knee. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant negligently failed to secure the luggage in a safe manner.

The plaintiff testified that she initially believed her knee pain would resolve and she waited approximately six months before reporting the incident to the defendant. The defendant sent the plaintiff to an orthopedic surgeon in Cozumel, Mexico, and she was diagnosed with chondromalacia of the knee. The plaintiff’s medical experts opined that the Mexican doctor negligently cleared the plaintiff to return to work with pain medication, which worsened her knee condition.

In June of ________, the plaintiff was assigned to the defendant’s ship, Freedom of the Seas. She complained of continuing knee pain and was sent by the defendant to a physician in her home country of Nicaragua where she was diagnosed with osteoarthritis of the knee.

The plaintiff’s medical experts opined that the Nicaraguan doctor also rendered substandard care to the plaintiff in performing two knee surgeries in ________. The plaintiff’s expert orthopedic surgeon utilized a videotape of the plaintiff’s first surgery to argue that the procedure was improperly performed. The second surgery, a total knee replacement, was not necessary, according to the plaintiff’s expert.

The plaintiff claimed that she continues to suffer ongoing knee pain and is unable to continue her former employment as a ship’s steward.

The defendant argued that the alleged incident was unwitnessed, the plaintiff did not report it for some six months and she could not establish how her knee injury actually occurred. The defense claimed that the plaintiff had signed a statement indicating that she had sustained the knee injury years before the luggage allegedly fell on her.

The defendant’s orthopedic surgeon testified that the video of the plaintiff’s first surgery demonstrated that the surgery was performed within the applicable standard of care in all respects. In addition, the defense expert opined that the plaintiff’s knee replacement surgery was indicated and properly performed.

The defendant’s expert also opined that the plaintiff suffered from osteoarthritis which was degenerative in nature and not causally-related to trauma. The defendant maintained that it provided appropriate medical care for the plaintiff’s complaints and that she was properly treated for her knee condition. The defense also argued that the plaintiff can walk without a cane, crutches or other assistance and has good strength and full range of motion in the knee.

The jury found negligence under the Jones Act, unseaworthiness and failure to provide prompt, proper and adequate medical care and treatment. The jury assessed the defendant 73% negligent and the plaintiff 27% comparatively negligent. The plaintiff was awarded $________ in damages, reduced to a net award or $________. The defendant’s post-trial motions are pending.

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