On January 25, 2018, while sailing aboard the Carnival Ecstasy with other family members, Eric Ewing decided to relax in his cabin and have a bite to eat. Eric began to eat a slice of pizza while he sat comfortably on the edge of his bed. Per a Complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida dated April 25, 2018, suddenly and without warning, the upper bunk within his cabin came crashing down on Eric’s head. Per an announcement over the PA system, the Carnival Ecstasy had diverted off course to provide emergency medical care for a passenger having a medical emergency. Eric noticed the vessel was no longer riding as smoothly after the change of course. Eric has now been diagnosed with a closed head traumatic brain injury, which now nine months later is causing him debilitating and life altering pain, and diminished cognitive abilities.
Eric is an honorably discharged U.S.M.C. veteran, father of two and was traveling aboard the Carnival Ecstasy with several direct and extended family members. Eric had sailed with Carnival on 27 occasions before the subject cruise and had earned the distinction of being a Platinum cruiser with Carnival. Eric’s cabin, very similar to the above picture, had been configured by cruise staff to accommodate his wheelchair bound mother, who he and his family made it a point of traveling with as frequent as possible. Unfortunately, and on the eve of the Cruise, Eric’s mother was unable to join her family on the cruise. Ordinarily, these cabins are configured with twin beds on each side and a nightstand between the beds. An upper bunk is stowed above each lower bed and when not in use is folded up into the walls and out of the way. If more than two passengers stay in a cabin, a Cabin Steward generally deploy or lowers any needed upper bunk while the room’s occupants are at dinner. That way any needed upper bunk is ready and available for use after the cabin’s occupants return from dinner. Conversely, the Cabin Steward folds up or raises any upper bunk the following morning while the cabin’s occupants are at breakfast.
Some things are very clear about this most unfortunate event, which has tragically robbed Eric of the life he once enjoyed. Passengers don’t lower or raise upper bunks within their cabins aboard Carnival’s vessels. In fact, passengers can’t. The bunks have a locking mechanism that requires a special locking/unlocking tool or wrench. Only Carnival personnel have the tool. Without the tool, upper bunks cannot be unlocked and lowered at least when they are raised and locked in place when stowed.