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Minor cruise passenger allegedly assaults another minor passenger: Is parent liable?

Minor cruise passenger allegedly assaults another minor passenger: Is parent liable?
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In this week’s article, we examine the case of H.S., a minor, v. Carnival Corporation, Case No.-16-cv-20331-KING (S.D. Fla. August 31, 2017) which “arises out of an alleged sexual assault upon Plaintiff H.S., a minor, allegedly perpetrated by E.H., the minor son of defendant (Ms. X) while aboard a Carnival cruise ship in January of 2015. Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint alleges a single court of negligent supervision against (Ms. X) on the basis that she knew or should have known that, without adequate supervision and reasonable control, her son E.H., would engage in conduct that would cause injury to Plaintiff”. In granting Mrs. X summary judgment dismissing the Amended Complaint the Court noted that “Plaintiff has not shown that (Ms. X) had any knowledge of any propensity in her son E.H. to commit sexual assault (and) cannot be held liable for the sexual assault alleged to have been committed by E.H.”.

Terror Targets Update

Egypt

In Youssef, Egypt Shakes Up Security Forces After Deadly Ambush of Police, nytimes (10/30/2017) it was noted that “Egypt carried out a sweeping reshuffle of its security forces, removing a dozen senior police and military officials from critical posts just a week after an ambush by militants killed 16 policemen in the desert outside Cairo”.

New York City

In Picchi, Uber driver screening faces scrutiny in New York terror attack, cbsnews (11/1/2017) it was noted that “Uber’s background checks are again in an uncomfortable spotlight after the company confirmed the suspect in the New York City terror attack had worked as one of its drivers. Sayfullo Habibullaevie Saipov, 29, worked for Uber and passed a background check, the company told CBS. Uber is reviewing Saipov’s history with the ride-sharing company, but hasn’t yet identified any safety reports that would have raised concerns”.

Sutherland Springs, Texas

In Blinder, Montgomery & Healy, Grisly Videos of a Massacre Raises an Unsettling Question: Who Should See it, nytimes (11/20/2017) it was noted that “The scene captured on video is almost too terrible to imagine, much less contemplate watching: seven minutes of gunfire as a black-clad gunman executes his victims-many of them small children-inside the First Baptist Church here”.

In Texas Church Killings: What We Known and Don’t Know, nytimes (11/7/2017) it was noted that “The shooting occurred during morning services at the church…The gunman exited his vehicle and began firing outside the church. He then walked to the side of the church and then inside, firing all the while…The suspect crashed his car…and was found dead with a self-inflicted wound…among the dead were 23 parishioners whose bodies were found inside the church…About 20 more were taken to hospitals with injuries”.

Thornton, Colorado

In Healy, Man Arrested in Walmart Shooting Called Unfriendly and ‘Rude’, nytimes (11/1/2017) it was noted that “Scott Allen Ostrem lived alone in a one-bedroom apartment where his neighbors say he cursed at them, and was often seen carrying a rifle to and from his home. Over the years, he accumulated a trial of minor criminal charges, debts and defunct businesses. And on Wednesday night…Mr. Ostrem, 47, ‘nonchalantly’ walked into a Walmart…and fatally shot two men and a woman”.

Oh! To Be In Love Again

In Masood & Specia, Pakistani Newlywed Accused of Poisoning Her Husband and 16 Others, nytimes (11/3/2017) it was noted that “A Pakistani newlywed has been arrested and charged with murder in the poisoning of 17 people, including several of her in-laws, in what officials described as an attempt to escape a forced marriage. The woman…and a man identified as her boyfriend were accused of having intentionally put rat poison into milk the was served to family members at a gathering…27 members of the extended family were hospitalized (of which 17 died)”.

TripAdvisor And Sexual Assaults

In Schwartz, TripAdvisor Icon Will Identify Hotels Where Sexual Assault Occurred, nytimes (11/8/2017) it was noted that “Responding to what one travel expert categorized as a ‘wake-up call’ TripAdvisor has begun placing symbols next to hotels and resorts that have been identified as locations of sexual assault and other major concerns. Based on news reports as well as comments from the TripAdvisor community, the warnings are designed to identify health, safety and discrimination issues in all of the website’s travel categories said a company spokesman”. Bravo. See also: Dickerson, Avoiding Dangerous Vacations 2016 at nycourts.gov/courts/9jd/taxcertatd.shtml which consists of news reports and legal cases about specific locales worldwide.

Feeling Sad?

In Rich, Suspect in Japan Serial-Killer Case Sought Out Suicidal People, nytimes (11/1/2017) it was noted “The man, Takahiro Shiraishi was arrested Tuesday, a day after the police visited his apartment almost 30 miles southeast of Tokyo and found the dismembered parts of nine bodies. Japan was riveted as the news media disclosed more grisly details from the second day of the investigation, reporting the Mr. Shiraishi, 27, had confessed to finding the victims, who he said were considering suicide, on twitter. In Japan, a low-crime country, it is the grimmest such case since a former employee of a center for the disabled went on a knife rampage there, killing 19 people last year”.

Swimming With The Crocodiles

In Zoo offering swimming with crocodiles ordered to separate them from humans, travelwirenews (11/4/2017) it was noted that “Feeding crocodiles and even swimming with them has been one of the main attractions of a unique German zoo. However, a court ruling says the reptiles must be separated from the visitors. ‘Only here you get the opportunity not only to see and observe crocodiles up close, but also to ‘understand them’ reads the website of the Crocodile Zoo in the city Friedberg, Germany. Unique experiences under a guide’s watch include breakfast buffet in the enclosure with the crocodiles and swimming with them-the latter being for adults only”.

U.S. Hurricane Response Criticized

In Cumming-Bruce & Robles, U.S. Response to Storm-Hit Puerto Rico Is Criticized by U.N. Experts, nytimes (10/30/2017) it was noted that “United Nations experts faulted the United States’ response to hurricane devastation in Puerto Rico in a report on Monday, calling it ineffective and lagging far behind the support provided for storm-struck states on the mainland. More than five weeks after Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico with winds up to 155 miles an hour, conditions remained ‘alarming’ for the island’s 3.5 million people, the group of 11 United Nations independent experts said, calling for a ‘speedy and well-resourced emergency response”.

Luxury Hotel Becomes Prison

In Nereim, This Riyadh Hotel Has Suddenly Become the World’s Most Exclusive, msn (11/8/2017) it was noted that “The Riyadh Ritz-Carlton has suddenly become vert exclusive-and by popular account, a luxury prison. Earlier this week, just as Saudi Arabia declared an anti-corruption purge that targeted some of the kingdom’s wealthiest and most powerful men, guests were booted out and reservations were canceled. Travel agents were told the palatial compound had been taken over for governmental use”.

Uber Drivers In UK Not Self Employed

In Rao, Uber Drivers Aren’t Self Employed, U.K., Tribunal Rules, nytimes (11/10/2017) it was noted that “Uber suffered another blow on Friday to its operations in its biggest market outside the United States when an employment tribunal in London rejected the company’s argument that its drivers were self-employed. The decision which affirmed a ruling made last year, means that Uber will have to ensure its drivers in Britain are paid a minimum wage and entitled to time off, casting doubt on a common hiring model in the so-called gig economy that relies on workers who do not have a formal contract as permanent employees”.

Visas In Turkey Partially Restored

In US Embassy in Turkey ‘partially resumes’ visas after month-long pause, travelwirenews (11/6/2017) it was noted that “‘The US Mission in Turkey has resumed processing visas on a limited basis’ the embassy said Monday, according to an email seen by Reuters. The Turkish government is expected to reciprocate, potentially resolving a diplomatic standoff that began a month ago, following the arrest of a local employee of a US Consulate”.

The Global Ape Trade

In Gettleman, Smuggled, Beaten and Drugged: The Illicit Global Ape Trade, nytimes (11/4/2017) it was noted that “The New York Times tracked international ape smugglers from Congolese rain forests to the back streets of Bangkok, Here is what unfolded…Ape trafficking is a little-known corner of the illicit wildlife trade, a global criminal enterprise that hauls in billions of dollars. But unlike the thriving business in elephant ivory, rhino horns, tiger bone wine or pangolin scales, ape smuggling involves live animals-some of the most endangered, intelligent and sensitive creatures on Earth”.

Renting A Car Abroad

In Wulfhart, How to Rent a Car Abroad, nytimes (11/10/2017) it was noted that “Renting a car while traveling abroad means freedom from bus and rail timetables, but comes with its own set of complications. Rules of the road, manual versus automatic, even permitted blood alcohol levels, not to mention the necessity of car insurance-can vary widely by country. Here are five useful tips for staying safe. (1) Figure Out Your Insurance Coverage Needs… (2) Know the Rules of the Road… (3) Consider an International Driving Permit… (4) Need an Automatic? Book in Advance… (5) Know Your Limit. Permitted blood alcohol concentration levels are different in each country and even in the European Union there is no single rule. Hungary for example has a zero-tolerance policy while Italy’s limit is .5 grams per one liter of blood”. For more on rental cars abroad and at home see Dickerson, Travel Law Section 3.04 and Dickerson, Liability for rental car accidents abroad, ETN Global Travel Industry News (5/5/2014).

Cuba Opens Up

In ‘US Closes, Cuba opens’: Havana eases entry for Cuban-Americans amid ‘sonic attack row, travelwirenews (10/29/2017) it was noted that “Havana will lift some hurdles to make it easier for Cuban-Americans to visit the island, Cuba’s foreign minister said. The move comes amid tensions between the two neighbors over allegations of mystery ‘sonic attacks’ on US diplomats in Cuba. ‘The US government closes and Cuba opens’ Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriquez told a meeting of Cuban Americans in Washington”.

MetroCards By Kruger

In Chow, MetroCards With Barbara Kruger Art Are Coming to New York City, nytimes (10/29/2017) it was noted that “Barbara Kruger’s bold lettering has adorned buses, warehouses, magazine covers, albums and train stations. Her next medium? MetroCards. Starting Wednesday, the (MTA) will release 50,000 limited-edition MetroCards with Mr. Kruger’s pointed questions emblazoned on the back. The cards will be available at four stations around the city and will arrive in conjunction with a series of site-specific works Ms. Kruger is creating for the Performa Biennial”.

Don’t Get Sick In India, Please

In Inside the Indian hospital where children are dying, https//travelwirenews (10/30/2017) it was noted that “In August, the deaths of more than 60 children over five days at the hospital (Baba Raghev Das (BRD) Medical College in the Indian City of Gorakpur) in northern Uktar Pradesh (UP) state, allegedly due to oxygen failure, caused public uproar. Children have died from infections and conditions such as Japanese encephalitis. Naitik was among the 214 children who died in the month of August according to official data provided by the largest government hospital in the region. Deaths of children at the BRD hospital: 2014-1,845, 2015-2,132, 2016-2,729, January-October 2017-2,600. In the first 23 days of this month at least 534 children, including 231 newborns, have died, taking the death toll to more than 1,000 since August”.

Climbing Sacred Uluru Banned

In Williams, Australia Bans Climbing on Uluru, a Popular Site Sacred to Indigenous People nytimes (11/1/2017) it was noted that “Visitors to Uluru, a giant sandstone slab jutting from the central Australian desert, have for decades ignored a sign at the rock’s base that politely reads ‘Please don’t climb’. On Wednesday, the board members of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, which manages the popular site also known as Ayers Rock, said they will soon stop requesting that hikers respect the landmark. Instead they will demand it. Beginning in 2019, climbing Uluru, which is considered sacred to the region’s indigenous Anangu people, will be banned, the board said”.

Hilton To Pay For Data Breaches

In Stempel, Hilton to pay $700,000 over credit card data breaches, msn (10/30/2017) it was noted that “Hilton Worldwide Holdings has agreed to pay $700,000 and bolster security to resolve probes into two data breaches that exposed more than 363,000 credit card numbers, the attorneys general of New York and Vermont announced Tuesday, nytimes. The settlement resolves claims that the hotel chain lacked reasonable data security and was too slow to tell consumers about the intrusions, waiting 9-1/2 months after learning of the first and more than three months after learning of the second”.

National Park Fees May Increase

In Clarke, Entry Fees Could Double at Some National Parks, nytimes (10/31/2017) it was noted that “Fees at 17 popular national parks may soon be rising sharply. On Oct. 24, the National Park Service announced a proposal to begin charging higher peak-season fees for five months per year at some of the country’s most beloved parks, including Yosemite National Park, Yellowstone and Joshua Tree National Park…Under the proposal, entry fees at 17 parks during the peak season in 2018 would increase to $70 for noncommercial vehicles, $50 for motorcycles and $30 for pedestrians or cyclists”.

Pacific Reefs Be Afraid

In Pala, Loss of Federal Protections May Imperil Pacific Reefs, Scientists Warn, nytimes (10/31/2017) it was noted that “Terry Kerby has been piloting deep-sea submarines for four decades, but nothing prepared him for the devastation he observed recently on several underwater mountains called seamounts in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. ‘It was a biological desert’ he said. Where normally fish and crabs dart about forests of coral and sponges, ‘all we could see was a parking lot full of nets and lines, with no life at all’…The Trump administration is considering rolling back federal protections for 10 national monuments including two in the central Pacific. The Pacific Remote Islands National Marine Monument and the Rose Atoll National Marine Monument protect the waters around a handful of islands, most uninhabited, to the south of the Hawaiian Islands. The shore reefs of the islands have long been protected from commercial fishing; the monument designations extended that protection to 50 miles from shore in some cases and 200 miles in others”.

Save The Fishing Shacks, Please

In Shannon, Preserving a Cluster of Fishing Shacks From Hudson’s ‘Forgotten Past’, nytimes (10/31/2017) it was noted that “In the city of Hudson, known to tourists for its antique shops and fine dining, a cluster of century-old fishing shacks from the Hudson River estuary’s once prosperous shad fishery teeters on the waterfront…Now, an effort to preserve some of the 17 remaining shacks is underway”.

Travel Law Case Of The Week

In the H.S. case the Court noted that “In January of 2015, Plaintiff H.S., a minor age 14, was a passenger aboard the Carnival Pride with her mother, L.S., for a week-long cruise. E.H., a minor age 16, was also a passenger on the Pride, and was accompanied by his brother, Defendant (Ms. X), her boyfriend and two family friends. E.H. stayed in a stateroom with his brother, age 18, and the two family friends, aged 19 and 21. Defendant (Ms. X) and her boyfriend stayed in another stateroom”.

The Teen Nightclub

“The Pride contains a teen nightclub, known as ‘Club O2′ which is intended for use by adolescents in the specific age range of fifteen to seventeen years old. Both H.S. and E.H. were registered to participate in Club O2 activities and over the course of the cruise, H.S. and E.H. each attended youth events at Club O2 and each associated with another minor, one K.A.. During the cruise, H.S. and K.A. formed an intimate relationship, engaging in sexual conduct on at least four days of the seven-day cruise. E.H. did not have any sexual contact with H.S. until the final night of the cruise”.

Second To Last Night

“On the second to last night of the cruise, H.S. went to a movie being shown on the Lido deck of the Pride with other minors including E.H.. During the movie, E.H. produced alcohol to H.S. and the other minors present. After drinking alcohol during the movie, H.S., E.H. and others took their alcoholic beverages to Club O2, where they continued to drink alcohol”.

Final Night Of Cruise

“On the final night of the cruise, H.S., E.H. and K.A. again attended an event at Club O2. At some point during the event, E.H. represented that he could obtain more alcohol from his brother’s bottle of Jack Daniels whiskey in his stateroom. E.H. then invited both H.S. and K.A. back to his stateroom to drink alcohol again. Upon arriving at E.H.’s room, E.H., H.S. and K.A. each consumed multiple alcoholic beverages, each consuming three to four drinks of the Jack Daniels E.H. procured from his brother. After consuming the alcohol, H.S., K.A. and E.H. engaged in sexual relations in E.H.’s stateroom”.

Carnival’s Room Policy

“Though aware that Carnival policy required minors to share staterooms with adults over the age of 23, after checking in for the cruise (Ms. X) switched room keys among her boyfriend and the boys and was aware E.H. would be staying in a stateroom without adult supervision. (Ms. X) never visited the room E.H. shared with his brother, and did not check in on activities occurring in E.H.’s stateroom at any point during the cruise. Moreover, (Ms. X) did not explicitly give E.H. rules regulating his behavior while on the ship, and relied in part of the Pride’s security and employees for E.H.’s safekeeping during the times she was not with E.H.”.

The Rum Runner

“On previous cruises, (Ms. X) had used a device known as a ‘Rum Runner’ to smuggle alcoholic beverages onto the cruise. E.H. and his brother were aware that (Ms. X) had previously used rum runners to smuggle alcohol on previous cruises. E.H.’s brother used a rum runner to smuggle the Jack Daniels whiskey provided by E.H. to H.S. on the night of the incident”.

No Prior Sexual Abuse

“Prior to the subject cruise, E.H. had lived with (Ms. X) his entire life. Edwards was not aware of any sexual abuse upon E.H., and had never heard of any instances of E.H. inappropriately touching others. Moreover (Ms. X) believed that E.H. had never had sex”.

Knowledge Of Alcohol Use

“Prior to the last night of the cruise, (Ms. X) was aware that E.H. had consumed alcohol on two occasions, each time in her presence and with her consent: once at a wedding and once more during a shore excursion on the subject cruise. There is no record evidence showing that (Ms. X) knew E.H. had ever provided alcohol to others”.

The Court’s Analysis

“Under Ohio Law, parents are not generally liable for damages caused by a child’s wrongful conduct…However, parents can be held liable for torts committed by their children when the injury complained of is the foreseeable consequence of a parent’s negligent act. Specifically, the Ohio Supreme Court has recognized that parents can be held liable for the torts of their children in three circumstances: (1) ‘when they negligently entrust their child with an instrumentality (such as a gun or car) which, because of the child’s immaturity or lack of experience, may become a source of danger to others’…(2) ‘when parents know of the child’s wrongdoing and consent to it, direct it or sanction it’, or (3) when they ‘fail to exercise reasonable control over the child when the parent knows, or should know, that injury to another is a probable consequence’. Specifically, as to this third exception:’ [t]o establish foreseeability of the act or injury [pursuant to negligent supervision] plaintiff must prove that specific instances of prior conduct were sufficient to put a reasonable person on notice that the act complained of was likely to occur’”.

No Record Evidence

“There is no record evidence or allegation that (Ms. X) entrusted E.H. with any dangerous instrumentality resulting in the alleged sexual assault of H.S. and there is no record evidence or allegation that (Ms. X) consented to or sanctioned E.H.’s alleged sexual assault of H.S. Accordingly, the Court will confine its analysis to whether Plaintiff has produced any evidence that Edwards knew, or should have known, the E.H. would commit the sexual assault alleged…Taking the undisputed facts in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, however, the court concludes that even if these circumstances showed (Ms. X) had knowledge that her son might consumer alcohol while on board the ship, none of these facts show any knowledge that E.H. might furnish alcohol to others and commit a sexual assault”.

Conclusion

“Plaintiff has come forward with no evidence showing that (Ms. X) knew of any propensity in E.H. to commit sexual assaults, whether under the influence of alcohol or not. Plaintiff has not shown that (Ms. X) had any knowledge of any propensity of her son E.H. to commit sexual assault (and thus) (Ms. X) cannot be held liable for the sexual assault alleged to have been committed by E.H.”.

Tom Dickerson

The author, Thomas A. Dickerson, is a retired Associate Justice of the Appellate Division, Second Department of the New York State Supreme Court and has been writing about Travel Law for 41 years including his annually updated law books, Travel Law, Law Journal Press (2016), Litigating International Torts in U.S. Courts, Thomson Reuters WestLaw (2016), Class Actions: The Law of 50 States, Law Journal Press (2016) and over 400 legal articles many of which are available at nycourts.gov/courts/9jd/taxcertatd.shtml. For additional travel law news and developments, especially, in the member states of the EU see IFTTA.org

This article may not be reproduced without the permission of Thomas A. Dickerson.

Read many of Justice Dickerson’s articles here.

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