IRELAND--A woman who sued after she fractured her elbow when she took a cruise shore excursion on St. Maarten called a White Knuckle Jet Boat Thrill Ride, involving 360-degree turns in the middle of the ocean, has lost her country’s High Court action.
Justice Anthony Barr said Siobhan Kellett, who was on a Caribbean cruise shore excursion with her husband, signed up for an adrenaline-infused boat ride.
The judge said: She was not able to keep herself seated as she had been instructed to do and as a result she injured herself. Unfortunately, it was simply an injury which occurred in the course of a vigorous activity.
Dismissing her action against the cruise operator and the travel company where she booked her holiday, Justice Barr said he could not find that Kellett's injury happened as a result of any negligence on the part of the excursion operators in relation to the condition of the boat and he could not find there was any liability on the part of the defendants.
Who will pay the costs of the High Court action will be decided at a later date.
Dancing teacher Kellett was on a seven-night €3,674 Caribbean cruise to celebrate her 50th birthday along with her silver wedding anniversary which was to finish with five days at Las Vegas to dance with her husband at a jive festival.
But she said she was thrown out of her seat and banged her elbow against the metal side of the jet boat during two 360-degree manoeuvres of the White Knuckle Boat Ride, when the couple took the pre-booked excursion after their cruise ship docked at St Maarten in the West Indies.
Siobhan Kellett (53) of Rockfield Green, Maynooth, Co Kildare, has sued British company RCL Cruises Ltd of Weybridge, Surrey, who operated the cruise ship Freedom of the Seas and it was claimed was responsible for the excursion in St Maarten in the West Indies called "The White Knuckle Boat Ride".
She also sued Panther Associates Ltd trading as Tour America of Middle Abbey Street, Dublin, where she booked the April 2016 holiday.
She claimed there was an alleged failure to provide any adequate safety restraints, harness or belts on the jet boat to ensure passengers were kept safe from injury.
The claims were denied.
Barr said he could not hold that the injuries suffered were attributable to any negligence on the part of Kellett. She had, he said, contracted for the jet boat ride and knew from the tour description on the website it was going to be an adrenaline-infused rush from a water rollercoaster ride.
She had no doubt, the judge said, but it was going to be a vigorous ride because the advertising literature promised to have her "involuntarily laughing and praying for her life.”
The judge said Kellett had not established the excursion operators failed to comply with the relevant standards applicable in St Maarten and there was simply no evidence of what those standards might be.
Finding there was no negligence for failure to provide restraints like a harness, Justice Barr said given the risk of capsize, one could not have such restraints in use on a boat as that could lead to fatalities if the boat were to capsize.
He said: While the risk of ejection of a passenger while doing a 360-degree turn may be higher than the risk of capsize, the consequences of a capsizing of the boat with 12 passengers strapped into their seats could be so grave that one could not advocate their use.
The judge found there was no negligence in the failure to provide sidebars and the judge said he declined to find the boat owner was negligent for failing to put padding along the side of the boat.
The judge said he was satisfied the boat was in a good seaworthy condition and was safe for the excursion.
Justice Barr said he did not fault the skipper for his action in moving Ms Kellett to a different position on the front bench after the first incident. To move her to the back of the jet boat would have involved the movement of two passengers and he was satisfied it would have been dangerous to undertake such a manoeuvre while at sea. (Irish Examiner - Ann O'Loughlin)