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Charles R. Lipcon
Charles R. Lipcon is the firm's founding attorney and has been handling injury, cruise line sexual assault and wrongful death claims for over 40 years. Read More »
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Jason R. Margulies is an experienced maritime lawyer and an active trial attorney handling personal injury, cruise line sexual assault and wrongful death claims. Read More »
Ricardo V. Alsina
Ricardo V. Alsina is an active trial attorney, handling personal injury, cruise line sexual assault and wrongful death claims. Read More »
Michael A. Winkleman
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Florida Keys Pleasure Cruise Assault Leads to One Man’s Arrest

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It seems as though one man took the meaning of ‘pleasure cruise’ a little too literally this week. What should have been a relaxing cruise getaway to the Florida Keys ended up being more like a nightmare for passengers when a 24-year-old man became aggressive after getting caught having sexual relations in the ship’s bathroom.

According to authorities, Robert ‘Bubba’ Martin, of East Naples, was arrested and charged with misdemeanor disorderly intoxication and battery after punching his girlfriend’s father and biting the boat captain when he got caught engaging in the lewd behavior onboard.

Martin was a passenger on the Key West Express, a small cruise ship that operates between Marco Island and Key West. An engineer on the ship reported being approached by other passengers who were complaining they heard a couple getting frisky in the men’s restroom. The crewmember then notified the father of Martin’s girlfriend, who went straight to the bathroom to put a stop to the tryst.

The father explained that he pulled his daughter away from Martin, who then became aggressive and punched him. Other passengers and crewmembers tried to calm Martin, who kept uttering profanities and making threats to anyone who tried to get involved.
Once the captain of the boat stepped in, he too became a casualty of Martin’s aggressive assaults. The captain zip-tied Martin’s wrists in an effort to manage and subdue him, but Martin claimed he is diabetic and the restrains were too tight. He promised to calm down if the zip-ties were removed, but as soon as the captain acquiesced, Martin bit the captain’s hand.

Having enough of his antics, the captain and a crewmember managed to hold Martin down until the vessel docked at Marco Island, where local police took him into custody. The arresting officers reported that Martin appeared intoxicated and that his eyes were glassy and bloodshot, and his breath smelled of alcohol.

Excessive alcohol consumption has been known to lead to several maritime accidents, many of which have been fatal. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the leading cause of boating accident fatalities in 2011 was alcohol. The organization reported at alcohol intoxication resulted in the deaths of 125 people in boating accidents that year.

Alcohol has also been responsible for several cruise ship accidents and fatalities, whether because passengers were over-served alcohol and became hurt or fell overboard, or because intoxicated passengers and crewmembers became involved in altercations on the ship. Just recently, a victim who survived going overboard from the Carnival Destiny reported that one of the ship’s bartenders had kept pushing her to drink, eventually causing her to become so intoxicated that upon returning to her cabin and stepping outside on the balcony to get some fresh air, the victim lost her grip on the banister and plummeted seven stories into the ocean below.

The passenger, Sarah Alexandra Badley Kirby, turned to our maritime accident lawyers for help in protecting her rights and filed a suit against Carnival Corp. for their role in the incident. However, this is just one of the many incidents that have involved alcohol as a factor in someone’s injuries.

The over-serving of alcohol is something that happens all too frequently across cruise ships small and large. The more alcohol that is served, the more money lines make, so naturally, they keep pushing passengers to drink and spend money. Unfortunately, many studies have shown that just one alcoholic beverage can impair someone’s judgment, causing them to become aggressive, disoriented or even lead them to lose consciousness. When out at sea, these effects are intensified due to the motion of the waves, loud noises onboard the vessel and other environmental factors.

Yet, it seems as though cruise lines have done nothing to improve safety on their vessels by limiting alcohol consumption and instead, appear to be pushing alcohol more than ever. There aren’t sufficient regulations that prevent passengers from overdrinking, nor do crewmembers properly monitor passengers to ensure minors are not being given alcohol.

Just last month, a teen onboard the Carnival Miracle died from what appeared to be alcohol poisoning. But who gave the teen the alcohol? Was it a crewmember? Another passenger? Cruise lines don’t put a cap on the number of drinks passengers are allowed to have, nor do they check to see if the actual consumer of the beverage is of legal age or not.

Maritime law requires that cruise lines keep everyone onboard safe from harm, and this entails making sure someone doesn’t get served alcohol beyond what is reasonable. If a crewmember is found to have encouraged a passenger to keep drinking and disregarded their apparent intoxication, the line may be found at least partially liable for any resulting injuries or fatalities.

Unfortunately, despite the many incidents that have given rise to concerns over alcohol distribution on cruise ships, lines have yet to regulate alcohol on their ships and passengers continue to get hurt.

Photo Credit:

Robert ‘Bubba’ Martin – nydailynews.com