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New Ruling Could Pave the Way for Malpractice Claims Against Cruise Lines

January 15, 2015 | Dominique A. Penson

A New York City policeman and Korean War veteran named Pasquale Vaglio was on a cruise in 2001 with his family when he fell and hit his head after getting off the ship to go on a sightseeing trip. A nurse examined the 82-year-old man, determining that he should get some rest in his cabin. However, Vaglio had actually suffered a serious brain injury that wound up killing him several days later.

For many years, family members in these situations would be prevented from filing malpractice lawsuits because of various maritime regulations and a precedent set in court that says there is a lesser expectation of care on a ship. But the Vaglio case has been circulating in courts for the last 13 years, and a panel of three judges in the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided that the precedent in this case is outdated, and that families in the same situation as Vaglio’s should be able to file malpractice suits. 

According to the lawsuit filed by Vaglio’s family, the nurse noted the bump and scrape on Vaglio’s head but did not recommend or conduct any sort of diagnostic scan. Instead, she told Vaglio’s wife to simply keep an eye on him, as he may have had a concussion. But Vaglio’s condition rapidly worsened, as he was suffering from internal bleeding inside his skull. After being examined by the ship’s doctor, he was transported to a Bermuda hospital, then airlifted to a hospital in New York, where he eventually succumbed to his injury. 

The new ruling by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals impacts any of the millions of Americans who take vacations on cruise lines every year. There is now a greater expectation of the medical care provided on ships, and cruise lines cannot as easily escape liability when medical professionals on board are negligent. 

To learn more about how this ruling could affect your injury claim, consult the respected New York medical malpractice attorneys with [ln::firm_name].

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