Last week, a Florida federal jury ruled in favor of Carnival Corp. in a negligence case brought by a passenger who alleged he had been badly injured during a cruise. Golden was a passenger aboard the Carnival Sunshine on a five-day cruise from Port Canaveral, Florida, to the Bahamas in May 2014, when he noticed while lounging with his family that the deck had become so hot it burned sections of skin on the soles of his feet, according to the December 2014 complaint. The burns became infected and gangrenous, leading to kidney failure and hospitalizations that resulted in three separate surgeries involving the amputation of all of Golden’s toes in July 2014. Plaintiff claimed Carnival “knew that their fake Teakwood deck heated up to outrageously high temperatures so as to burn the feet of a passenger who ended up having all 10 toes and parts of both feet amputated.” The jurors found after about two hours of deliberation that passenger Gregory Golden’s injuries weren’t caused by any negligence on Carnival’s part.
This trial started with the presiding judge referring case-related Facebook posts by the plaintiff’s attorney to a disciplinary committee. Carnival asked the Court that Golden’s attorney David Singer of David W Singer & Associates PA be disqualified, alleging that he posted photos on Facebook to warn passengers of “outrageously high temperatures” on a cruise ship’s deck and wrongly published private information about a mediation session between his client and the company. Carnival said those communications violated court orders. A screen capture of the Facebook post presented as an exhibit in Carnival’s disqualification bid stated that Singer’s law firm was starting a “huge trial” and would raise the issue of Singer’s Facebook page was an advertisement for him and his firm, alleging that he had in the past flouted lawyer advertising rules as laid out by the Florida Bar Standing Committee on Advertising Guidelines for Networking Sites. According to Carnival, Singer also said, “To Dr. Jeff Geldblum and others that have the natural tendency to side with billion-dollar corporations and insurance companies, I feel sorry for you. … Doc, your buddies at Carnival knew of the problem because there were nine previous cases of burns on their deck – many of them kids.” Judge Lenard sent the matter to a disciplinary committee on May 31, according to the court docket. The next day, Singer appeared prior to trial proceedings to apologize to the court.
The case is Gregory Golden v. Carnival Corp., case number 1:14-cv-24899, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Miami Division.