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Casorio v. Princess Cruise Lines, Ltd.

United States District Court, C.D. California

July 30, 2015

Mary Ann Casorio,
v.
Princess Cruise Lines, Ltd.

CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL

GEORGE H. KING, Chief District Judge.

Proceedings: (In Chambers) Order Re: Defendant's Motion to Dismiss First Amended Complaint (Dkt. 29)

This matter is before us on the above-captioned Motion. We have considered the papers filed in support of and opposition to the Motion and deem this matter appropriate for resolution without oral argument. L.R. 7-15. As the Parties are familiar with the facts, we will repeat them only as necessary. Accordingly, we rule as follows:

I. Background

Plaintiff Mary Ann Casorio ("Plaintiff") filed this action against Defendant Princess Cruise Lines, Ltd. ("Defendant") on November 18, 2014. (Dkt. 1.) On March 16, 2015, we dismissed the complaint without prejudice. (Dkt. 23.) On April 15, 2015, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint ("FAC"). (Dkt. 24.) On May 13, 2015, Defendant filed this Motion. (Dkt. 29.)

Plaintiff alleges that Defendant's negligence caused the death of her husband ("Mr. Casorio"), and she brings this action both in her individual capacity and as a representative of Mr. Casorio's estate. (FAC at ¶ 3.) On or about November 23, 2013, the Casorios left Florida on a cruise aboard Defendant's ship the Crown Princess. (Id. at ¶ 7.) On November 26, 2013, the ship visited the island of St. Maarten in the Eastern Caribbean. (Id. at ¶ 10.) While touring the island, at roughly 1:30 P.M., Mr. Casorio tripped and fell, striking his head against a wall. (Id. ) A call was made to the medical center aboard the ship. (Id. ) Mr. Casorio went to the ship and was evaluated by its doctor and medical personnel at 1:55 P.M. (Id. ) The Casorios were advised that they should leave the ship and go to a local hospital on the island where a CT scan could be performed. (Id. at ¶ 12.) Because the Casorios "were scared and felt that if they disembarked they would be abandoned in St. Maarten, a foreign island, without any assistance, " they wished to remain on board instead. (Id. at ¶ 14.) After signing an "Against Medical Advice form, " the Casorios were allowed to remain on the ship. (Id. )

By 5:50 P.M., however, Mr. Casorio's condition had worsened. (Id. at ¶ 15.) Defendant's employees arranged for an ambulance to take him to the local hospital. (Id. ) Around 7:25 P.M., a CT scan performed at the hospital showed that Mr. Casorio had a large subdural hematoma. (Id. at ¶ 16.) Because treatment would require neurosurgery and the island's hospital was not equipped with proper facilities for such an operation, Mr. Casorio needed to be evacuated by air to another facility. (Id. ) An air ambulance did not arrive until the following morning around 8:25 A.M. (Id. ) Mr. Casorio was flown to a Florida hospital, but by the time he was admitted, his "condition was too far gone and physical examination was consistent with brain death." (Id. ) Care was withdrawn on November 28, 2013, and he passed away. (Id. )

Plaintiff alleges, upon information and belief, that Defendant's employees knew or should have known that Mr. Casorio likely had "a high probability of a subdural hematoma with intracranial bleeding which would require neurosurgical treatment" and that the island's local hospital was not equipped to administer such treatment. (Id. at ¶¶ 12-13.) Plaintiff contends that Defendant and Defendant's employees (all unnamed Does) were (1) "negligent and careless in leaving [the Casorios] in a location which lacked the ability to provide necessary care and treatment and [(2)] in their failure to either provide Plaintiff and/or [Mr. Casorio] with information so they could arrange for medical air transportation, or alternatively to arrange for medical air transportation, or at least have medical air transportation on standby." (Id. at ¶ 17.) Plaintiff asserts five claims: (1) a Death On the High Seas Act ("DOHSA") claim; (2) a "personal injuries" claim; (3) an infliction of emotional distress claim; (4) wrongful death claim; and (5) a survival action claim. (Id. at ¶¶ 21-55.)

II. Legal Standard

In order to survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must set forth "more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). The complaint must contain factual allegations sufficient to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 570. In considering a motion to dismiss, we must accept the allegations of the complaint as true and construe them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Cousins v. Lockyer, 568 F.3d 1063, 1067 (9th Cir. 2009). We need not accept as true, however, legal conclusions "cast in the form of factual allegations." W. Mining Council v. Watt, 643 F.2d 618, 624 (9th Cir. 1981). "In sum, for a complaint to survive a motion to dismiss, the non-conclusory factual content, ' and reasonable inferences from that content, must be plausibly suggestive of a claim entitling the plaintiff to relief." Moss v. U.S. Secret Serv., 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009).

III. Analysis

A. Wrongful Death & Survival Claims

In the Motion to Dismiss the original Complaint, Defendant claimed that Plaintiff cannot assert state law wrongful death and survival claims because maritime law, and specifically DOHSA, provides the exclusive remedy for Plaintiff. We held that Plaintiff might, hypothetically, be able to make out a claim under state law, but not under the facts pled:

Plaintiff may assert a non-admiralty claim if Mr. Casorio suffered injury both on land and at sea from Defendant's negligence, but the scope of the non-admiralty claim is limited to only the part of the [Defendant's] negligence whose impact occurred on land. Thus, in order to state viable California law claims, Plaintiff must plausibly allege that Defendant breached a duty of care owed to ...

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