RCL faces large possible compensation bill after legal decision

Miami, Florida-based cruise line operator Royal Caribbean International (RCL) faces a potential $20.3m compensation bill after losing a case against a former employee who suffered a catastrophic injury in August 2008 while working on board.

New Zealand national Lisa Spearman was a marketing and revenue manager on Voyager of the Seas (IMO 9161716) which was sailing from Barcelona, Spain. The ship was conducting a routine fire safety drill while in port in which some of the vessel’s semi-water tight doors — powerful doors that prevent water from flooding the ship — were closed.

A nurse from the port who was unaware of the drill tried to open one of the doors with a handle. Spearman was on the other side. The suit claimed that, as the nurse tried to pass through the door, she fell. Spearman lunged forward to help her. When Spearman put her hand on the handle to keep the door open, the sliding door lurched back into its recess pocket in the wall, mashing Spearman’s hand into a very small space. Bystanders called the ship’s bridge to disable the doors, but Spearman’s hand was sucked into the door’s pocket three more times, her lawyer said. The nurse was unharmed, but Spearman broke her middle finger and her index finger. 1999-built, Bahamas-flagged, 138,194 gt Voyager of the Seas is owned by Voyager of the Seas Inc care of manager Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd of Miami, Florida. ISM manager is RCL Cruises of Weybridge, UK. It is entered with Gard P&I on behalf of RCLL. Gard AS is claims leader for hull and machinery (RDC 4/4 FFO 4/4) on behalf of RCLL.