Houston woman files lawsuit against Carnival over nightmare cruise on Triumph

February 18, 2013 9:59:32 AM PST
A new lawsuit has been filed over that nightmare cruise involving Carnival's Triumph ship. The suit was filed by a Houston woman who gave an exclusive interview with ABC News.

No surprises here as this is the start of what will likely be a barrage of lawsuits against Carnival. Eyewitness News reached out to the cruise line for a statement to which they replied, "We are not able to comment on pending litigation."

While the company is staying silent, its passengers are not.

It took less than 72 hours from the time her feet touched solid ground for Lisa Williams to file a lawsuit against Carnival Cruise Lines.

"When your gut tells you you're not going to survive this event, that shouldn't be allowed to exist," Williams said.

She says during the five days of squalor at sea, the 42-year-old suffered from severe dehydration and bruising from aggressive food lines. Williams says she was so sick she was rushed to the emergency room, and given an IV when she returned home to Houston on Friday.

"Nobody offered me additional water, and I was not about to drink water coming out of the ship!" said Williams.

According to her $75,000 lawsuit filed in Miami federal court, Carnival "failed to inspect for and to observe and resolve the hazard present within the vessel that ultimately affected all passengers aboard, including" Williams. It goes on to say, "plaintiff had been exposed to extremely toxic and debilitating conditions resulting in severe and permanent injuries."

"She thought that this luxury cruise had turned into the Titanic. It seemed that nobody was in control and that the passengers were pretty much left in the dark," said Spencer Aronfeld, attorney for Williams.

On Friday, 25-year-old Cassie Terry of Brazoria County filed the first lawsuit against Carnival Cruise Lines, calling the crippled cruise ship a "floating hell."

KTRK Legal Analyst Joel Androphy says this is likely just the beginning of a wave of lawsuits from Carnival Triumph passengers.

"Most people would be better off. The best chance you have is a settlement, and an early settlement because pay more to avoid a lawsuit than after you file a lawsuit," Androphy said.

But for Williams, this is about ending her saga at sea for good. And making sure it never happens to anyone else again.

"I wanted to go lay in the sun. I didn't expect to come home in the situation I was in and it's not fair," Williams said.

Carnival's ticket contract -- those papers we all sign, but a lot of us don't read -- states the company cannot be held responsible for emotional distress and mental suffering. Physical injuries, which is what Williams' lawsuit pinpoints, are another story.

The contract also states the passengers can't band together to bring a class action lawsuit, but Androphy says there are ways around that. A judge would likely consolidate lawsuits together, if that becomes necessary, to avoid trying case after case.

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