Friday, October 21, 2011

Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed Against Holland America, Partner

US citizen Diana Mechling, 59, jumped from the back of a tour boat (as instructed) in Belize in February into the warm waters off the coast of Belize to begin snorkeling. Moments later, the operator tried to steady the boat by putting it in reverse, but the propeller sucked Mechling under the boat, according to a lawsuit filed in Federal court in Seattle on Tuesday (October 18). Mechling's husband, Michael watched in horror as her lacerated body was quickly pulled onto the boat. She later died at a hospital.

COMMENT: Mechling filed the wrongful death and negligence lawsuit against Seattle-based cruise line Holland America, as well as the Belize-based operator of the snorkeling excursion, Cruise Solutions. The lawsuit said the Mechlings were on a cruise in the Caribbean and had purchased Holland America-managed excursions at various ports of call. One was the snorkeling trip in Belize.

Although evidence no doubt will be introduced by the plaintiff's attorney in this case, tourists traveling in developing countries are cautioned that safety protocols of tour operators are not always comparable to what one might find in developed nations. In this case, the Mechlings opted for a Holland-America-managed excursion in contrast to setting up one on their own that had not been vetted. Hence, it was up to Holland America to ensure that Cruise Solutions knew what they were doing.

My experience has been that the cruise-ship industry has grown too fast without ensuring that all subcontractors of cruise-ship companies make safety their number one priority and have effective quality control safeguards.

We will follow this case carefully and keep our readers abreast of developments as the trial progresses.





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