Court Affirms Judgment for Defendant Carnival Cruise Line That Set Aside a $3.6M Verdict

On October 19, 2016, the Third District Court of Appeal, State of Florida, affirmed a final judgment in favor of defendant Carnival Corporation, finding no merit.

In the original case at bar, the plaintiff, Giovanna Settimi Caraffa, individually and as personal representative of the estate of Benedetto Emanuele Caraffa, deceased, filed suit in the Circuit Court of the 11th Judicial Circuit in and For Miami-Dade County, Florida, alleged among other things, that the decedent was injured as a result of asbestos exposure while working and living on board Carnival vessels. This case went to trial and a verdict was issued on December 17, 2014 pursuant to the following determinations by the jury: (1) Carnival was a legal cause of loss, injury or damage; (2) there was unseaworthiness on the part of one or more of Carnival’s vessels which was the legal cause of loss, injury or damage; (3) there was negligence on the part of Mr. Caraffa which was the legal cause of his loss, injury or damage; and (4) the percentage of negligence was allocated to 35 percent for Carnival and 65 percent to the plaintiff.

The jury awarded total damages in the amount of $10,339,054 which was broken down as follows: (i) Pre-Death Damages included $128,000 for damages for net lost earnings and benefits through the date of death and $10,000,000 in damages for pain and suffering, disability, physical impairment, mental anguish, inconvenience, aggravation of a disease, and loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life through the date of his death, and (ii) Post-Death Damages included $19,054 in damages to the estate for funeral expenses resulting from decedent’s death and $192,000 in damages sustained by decedent’s wife, as Personal Representative of the Estate for the loss of decedent’s support resulting from his death. Pursuant to Florida law, as Carnival Corporation was found to be 35 percent liable, they were responsible for 35 percent of the verdict, or approximately $3.6M.

Post-verdict, defendant Carnival Corporation filed a motion to set aside the verdict and enter judgment in accordance with its prior motion for a directed verdict alleging the plaintiff has not established sufficient evidence to demonstrate that on Carnival Cruise Line ships, the decedent was exposed at all to friable asbestos. On February 9, 2015, the Circuit Court granted the defendant’s motion and held “there was evidence that could have been, that might have been, but . . . it is this Court’s belief that such evidence is not sufficient.” On appeal, the Third District Court of Appeal of the State of Florida affirmed this defense judgment finding the plaintiff had no merit. Therefore, the $3.6M verdict against Carnival was set aside.

Read the full decision here.

Read the notice of appeal here.

Read the verdict sheet here.