After a state Supreme Court ruled against her and held that the Carnival cruise line was not liable for the medical malpractice of one of its doctors, the girl, who was rendered sterile from an infection caused by the doctor’s failure to diagnose appendicitis, has filed a petition for certiorari with the United States Supreme Court. In the petition, lawyers for the girl argue that the cruise line should be held liable under theories of agency and control. Passengers were made to believe that the doctor was a part of the cruise line’s crew, and passengers requiring medical care had no choice but to use the doctor selected by the cruise line.
While the state Supreme Court relied upon the fact that the cruise line disclaimed liability for the doctor’s actions in fine print on the cruise line’s ticket, lawyers for the girl argue that the cruise line went to great lengths to make its passengers believe that the doctor was a member of the ship’s crew. The doctor hired by Carnival cruise was photographed and advertised as being an officer of the ship. And on board, the cruise line introduced the doctor as an officer and had the doctor wear an officer’s uniform. In addition, lawyers for the girl argue that case law supporting the cruise line should be reconsidered because passengers who need medical care are at the mercy of the cruise line and its selection of medical staff. Given the fact that this particular doctor is a resident of London, extending liability to the cruise line is essential to protect domestic consumers from the malpractice of a foreign physician.
The Supreme Court of the United States will decide later this year whether to hear the case.