Miami Lawyers Are Busy With This Litigation Surge

By Lisa Willis. Feb 28, 2024

Miami attorneys are at the center of an emerging wave of litigation from the region’s bustling tourism sector.

And they say alcohol and the lack of law enforcement officers at sea contribute to the spike in lawsuits that follow the surge in violent attacks.

The Port of Miami has been re-crowned as the world’s busiest cruise port, taking the title from Port Canaveral, recording nearly 7.3 million passengers in the fiscal year 2023, shattering the port’s previous 2019 record, according to Cruise Lines International Association.

International litigation and arbitration attorney Gary E. Davidson represents clients from many parts of the globe at Diaz, Reus & Targ. He is also an adjunct law professor at the Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad Law Center and Co-author of “Don’t Fall Asleep at the Helm: Cruise Line Passenger Ticket Contracts and the Pitfalls of Personal Injury Litigation in U.S. Courts.”

Davidson said the nature of the design of the mass marketing campaign undertaken by the cruise industry can be fraught with peril.

“The goal is to fill that ship,” Davidson said. “They cut their rates as they need to accomplish that, and what you’re going to get in that mass market are people who are troublemakers. Maybe two or three, maybe five or 10 are going to be troublemakers, but they are there for the wrong reasons.”

Davidson began his career defending cruise lines, then switched to hotel and cruise line plaintiff representation.

He represents the family of a 24-year-old Wisconsin woman who allegedly drank poisoned alcohol. The wrongful death lawsuit is against a Mexican resort, where the woman died in the pool after ordering a drink at the bar.

“Cruise lines have a very delicate balance to strike,” Davidson said. “On one hand, people want to go on cruises to have fun and drink. Let’s just be candid about it. There is an element of people who go to all-inclusive hotels, and they go on cruise lines who are interested in the drinking aspect as perhaps the No. 1 joy.”

The attorney cautions passengers not to become clients by keeping their distance from people who are perceived to be shady or risky because they might very well be that.

“Anyone who practices in this area, there is repetition,” Davidson said. “A number of these sexual assault cases have patterns to them. And unfortunately, one of those patterns is alcohol abuse.”