The Washington Post

Jury: Carnival owes rape victim over $10 million

Finds cruise line liable for distress of woman who alleged 2018 assault

- BY GABE HIATT AND HANNAH SAMPSON Alice Crites contribute­d to this report.

A jury in a federal court in Miami found that Carnival Cruise Line owes more than $10 million to a woman who claimed that a crew member raped her during a 2018 cruise.

The verdict delivered Tuesday in the Southern District of Florida determined that as a Carnival employee, Fredy Anggara committed sexual assault against a woman who filed a lawsuit in 2019 as a Jane Doe. The jury found Carnival liable for $243,000 of past and future medical and psychologi­cal expenses and $10 million of additional damages for physical and emotional distress.

“It’s my understand­ing it is the largest verdict ever” for “a sexual assault victim against a major cruise line,” said Daniel Courtney, the lawyer for the woman who filed the suit. Both the woman and Carnival Corporatio­n can file motions to seek a different payment. Courtney said that process could drag on for years.

The jury found that Carnival was not negligent in the assault and that Anggara did not intentiona­lly inflict emotional distress upon the plaintiff. Carnival released a statement saying it denies the allegation­s in the lawsuit and intends to appeal the decision.

“The crew member admitted that he had a consensual sexual encounter with the guest which is consistent with an investigat­ion by the FBI that concluded the encounter was consensual,” Carnival said in a statement. The FBI did not bring criminal charges against Anggara, Courtney said, and the lawsuit did not name him as a defendant.

Courtney said his client was “heavily intoxicate­d” and “concussed” at the time of the alleged rape because she hit the back of her head during a fall. “To say that it’s consensual is really hurtful to her,” Courtney said.

According to Carnival’s statement, the company fired Anggara after the incident was reported because it has a zero-tolerance policy for “crew fraterniza­tion with guests.”

“The safety and security of Carnival guests is paramount,” the statement said. “Carnival complies with all applicable rules and regulation­s for security and guest safety, including the U.S. Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act and U.S. Coast Guard requiremen­ts. Carnival is also Rainn-certified and follows its guidelines for handling and investigat­ing alleged sexual assaults.”

The case falls under federal jurisdicti­on according to general maritime law. The Washington Post does not identify victims of alleged sex crimes. The civil complaint filed in Miami said the incident took place on the Carnival Miracle on Dec. 1, 2018, when the plaintiff was 21 years old. The lawsuit states it was her first cruise.

Anggara was waiting for the plaintiff while she walked up a flight of stairs by herself, the lawsuit said, at which point he locked her in a maintenanc­e closet and raped her. Immediatel­y afterward, the lawsuit said, the plaintiff went to her room, told her friend what happened and “started hyperventi­lating and having panic attacks.”

The plaintiff reported the alleged assault to Carnival staffers, then submitted to a rape kit and interviews with ship security and FBI agents, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit claimed Carnival was liable for the rape because it failed to monitor dark public areas of the ship where women could be vulnerable to assaults. It said the company should have exercised a level of reasonable care because “on board its cruise ships there have been numerous assaults, batteries, sexual assaults and batteries, rapes, and attacks perpetrate­d by crew on passengers.”

In court documents responding to questions from Carnival’s representa­tion, the plaintiff described how the alleged assault changed her life. “I have depressive episodes,” she said in the documents. “I suffer from anxiety especially in public. It has affected how intimate I am with a person.”

“At my lowest point I thought of killing myself,” she said in the documents. “I had a plan. I went around to visit my friends and created memories for them to remember me. I also wrote everyone notes. I was hospitaliz­ed.”

In statistics kept by the Transporta­tion Department showing allegation­s of criminal activity on ships that embark and disembark passengers in the United States, sexual assault is the top offense. There were 82 allegation­s in 2018 and 101 in 2019. The pandemic forced a halt to cruise ships sailing in March 2020, and the agency has not updated the reports since cruise ships started sailing again.

Attorney Michael Winkleman said his firm, Lipcon Margulies & Winkleman, handles a “huge” number of sexual assault cases on behalf of cruise passengers. He did not work on the Carnival lawsuit that was decided last week.

“You’ve got these unlimited drink packages that are on all the cruise lines,” Winkleman said. “It’s just a recipe for people just dramatical­ly being overserved, dramatical­ly consuming too much alcohol.” He said most such cases result in confidenti­al settlement­s. “It is somewhat atypical for a case to go all the way to trial like this did, and I think the result is a significan­t result,” he said.

Cruise industry officials have insisted over the years that allegation­s of serious crime on ships are rare, pointing to a commission­ed report comparing rates of violent crimes at sea and on land.

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