Crew members on a Princess Cruise Lines ship violated maritime law by failing to rescue three stranded fishermen -- two of whom later died at sea, a lawsuit by the surviving fisherman claims.
Adrian Vasquez, 18, of Panama, is suing Princess Cruise Lines for negligence, along with intentional or reckless omission by its crew, UK's The Guardian reports.
Sightseers on board a Princess cruise spotted the three stranded fishermen frantically waving for help and alerted Princess crew members, Vazquez's lawsuit asserts. But the cruise ship did not stop, nor did the crew take any action to help, the suit claims.
If true, the Princess crew's lack of action likely violates international maritime law, which imposes a duty to assist and rescue anyone in distress on the high seas, according to The Guardian. The government of Bermuda, the Princess ship's flag state, is investigating.
The Princess crew's alleged duty to rescue the stranded fishermen forms the basis of Adrian Vasquez's negligence suit. A victim can try to prove negligence by showing a party breached a duty, which then caused the victim's injury.
Because the Princess cruise ship didn't stop to help, Vasquez watched his two friends and fellow fishermen -- ages 16 and 24 -- die of dehydration over the course of several days.
Vasquez survived after a rainstorm provided much-needed drinking water. An Ecuadorian navy crew finally rescued him in March after 28 days adrift, CNN reports.
Vasquez's suit seeks money damages for his alleged physical, emotional, and psychological injuries caused by the Princess crew's alleged failure to act.
Princess, however, insists word of the stranded fishermen never reached the officer on duty. The tragedy "was a case of unfortunate miscommunication," the cruise line said in a statement.
But the Princess passengers who initially reported spotting the stranded fishermen say that explanation is "not credible," The Guardian reports.
The passengers' accounts are detailed in rescued fisherman Adrian Vasquez's lawsuit. The suit was filed in Miami, where Princess' parent company Carnival is headquartered, according to The Guardian.
- Fisherman sues cruise line after 28 days stranded at sea (CNN)
- Cruise Ship Injuries: What are Your Rights? (FindLaw's Injured)
- Legal Dictionary: Admiralty Law (FindLaw)
- Defenses to Negligence Claims (FindLaw)