In Chang v. Carnival Corporation, Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit 2016, on December 9, 2012, while aboard Carnival’s cruise ship, Chang slipped and fell.
Her cruise ticket contained several restrictions governing Plaintiff’s right to sue Carnival. Most importantly, the ticket contains a time limitation within which to sue and a forum-selection clause.
The time-limitation provision doesn’t a lawsuit filed more than one year after the date of the injury.
The forum-selection clause required her to file suit in federal court—and specifically in the Southern District of Florida.
She Hired an Out of State (non-Florida) Attorney Instead of a Florida Attorney
She hired a retained a California attorney to sue for her slip-and-fall claim against Carnival.
Aware of the possible lawsuit, Carnival twice told her lawyer (both on September 4, 2013, and on October 22, 2013) that it per the passenger ticket contract, it required a lawsuit to be filed in federal court in the Southern District of Florida.
Less than a month later, on November 20, 2013, she hired a Florida lawyer.
Then, on December 4 or 6, 2013—just a few days before expiration of the one-year deadline—she filed her slip-and-fall claim in a Florida state court, not federal court, as she was required to do.
On January 28, 2014, Carnival asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit, claiming that she didn’t sue in South Florida federal court as the ticket required.
By the Time She Sued in Federal Court It Was Too Late
She then sued in federal court. The federal lawsuit, however, was filed almost three months after the one-year limitations period had passed.
Carnival asked the court to dismiss the case based on the one-year limitation period for filing a these lawsuits set out in her cruise ticket.
She admitted that she missed this deadline, but argued that this limitation period should be extended based on the doctrine of equitable tolling.
The trial court rejected this argument and agreed with Carnival that she waited to long to sue.
The court entered judgment for Carnival. She appealed. The appeals court agreed with the trial court. Her case is forever lost.
Cruise accident lawyers know that you have to sue Carnival in Federal Court in the Southern District of Florida. The passenger could’ve kept her case alive by suing in the correct court within 1 year.
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