Grand Cayman Islands March 28, 2014
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Carnival Cruise Line Sued for Passenger Cardiac Event Grand Cayman Islands March 28, 2014 - Undisclosed Settlement reached on April 10, 2015
Cruise Bruise Investigates - Amanda Butler v Carnival Cruise LinesWhile reviewing a previous Cruise Bruise Investigates article, Cruise Industry Legislation Excessive, S.1340, we have found that once again a "victim" testified before Congress, while she was suing a cruise line. If it's a potential strategy, keeping the name of the person suing the cruise line in the news, it keeps the pressure on the cruise line to settle the claim.
Congressional testimony has provided publicity which has been used time and time again by members of the International Cruise Victims (ICV), of which Amanda Butler is a board member. According to a vast collection of media reports, members of the ICV have personally collected settlements totaling as a group into the millions. Some of those huge settlements took place after family members testified before Congress and were interviewed by the media multiple times.
Kim Ware of Houston, Texas, who also testified before Congress along with Amanda Butler this time, also filed a lawsuit against Carnival Cruise Lines on February 06, 2014. The case was settled on September 29, 2015. In earlier Congressional hearings, several other people who had or were suing a cruise line included Laurie Dishman, the parents and spouse of George Allen Smith among others.
In the case of Viola Butler, the complaint states, "On April 14, 2013, Plaintiff, his wife Violet, and their daughter Amanda boarded the Carnival Conquest (the “Ship”) in New Orleans, Louisiana, for a 7-day vacation cruise. The voyage was scheduled to take them to the Caribbean Islands and Mexico before returning back to New Orleans on April 20, 2013." After a "cardiac event", "the family was abandoned by Carnival and forced to repatriate Butler to Miami."
The lawsuit labels on one hand the Carnival "Vessel’s ill-equipped and understaffed medical center" and on the other hand faults the cruise line for getting the family off the cruise ship quickly so, they could fly to Miami for high quality, major U.S city hospital treatment, of which a cruise ship's tiny infirmary can't begin to compare.
Amanda Butler uses the term, "ordinary tourist" during her testimony before Congress as if it was a downgrade from some special treatment they might have expected. So, we looked at the demographics of the town this family lived in and how it might have molded their expectations.
The Butlers are from Columbus, Mississippi, which according to Wikipedia, "As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 23,640 people residing in the city. 60.0% were African American, 37.4% White, 0.2% Native American, 0.7% Asian, 0.0% Pacific Islander, 0.6% from some other race, and 1.1% of two or more races. 1.4% were Hispanic or Latino of any race. The median income for a household in the city was $27,393, and the median income for a family was $37,068."
According to City-Data.com, "For population 15 years and over in Columbus city: Never married: 38.3%, Now married: 38.3%, Separated: 5.1%, Widowed: 7.7%, Divorced: 10.6%." The "Nearest city with population of 50,000+: Tuscaloosa, AL (54.8 miles , pop. 77,906)." In education, "For population 25 years and over in Columbus having an education at High school or higher: 78.9%"
According to Policto.com 2012 Presidential election results votes were for M. Romney, GOP, 50.3%, 12,399 votes and B. Obama, Dem, 48.8%, 12,037 votes.
The Butlers and their "over 50 member" family reunion group took a cruise out of the U.S., on a cruise ship comprised of cruise line employees from around the world. Few employees would be from United States while the family traveled to foreign nations. Apparently they were unaware that if a medical emergency occured during the cruise or on foreign soil they would be treated like they were, "ordinary tourists" and "everybody" encountered both on the cruise ship and in the ports-of-call would not speak English.
It's noted that the Butler family reunion could have booked a cruise aboard an American cruise ship, owned by an American cruise line which only cruises within inland American waters. The cruise ship would be in close proximity to all American cities, which have all American licensed doctors and hospitals who all speak fluent English.
American river cruises perfectly fit the description of standards Butler demanded Congress legislate for international, ocean sailing cruise ships, registered in countries other than the U.S. The Carnival Conquest is registered and flagged in Panama, a Central American country, where Spanish is the official language, and there are 59,294 child laborers, according to CIA.gov. There is nothing standard American in these demographics. When the Butler family stepped aboard Carnival Conquest and set sail, they were officially in the sovereign nation of Panama.
In a statement to Congress, where Butler testified on July 23, 2014, after having filed the lawsuit and with the lawsuit still pending, she states,
Amanda Butler outlines the negligence of the cruise line to Congress, "After what seemed to be an eternity but was probably 12 to 15 minutes after she collapsed, help did arrive". As stated in our article regarding response times of medical personnel within the United States, a response time of 12 to 15 minutes is warp 10 speed, compared to cities throughout U.S. To be on a life flight/air ambulance to a major American hospital as quickly as Butler's mother was in flight to a major hospital, exceeds the expectations of any rural community in America. Keep in mind, this cardiac event took place in a rural Caribbean community. In fact, the cruise line's response time of 12-15 minutes was better than if Butler had the same cardiac event at her home and was taken to Baptist Memorial Hospital.
"She would never open her eyes, speak, or move again. Based on this information, we made the decision to remove Violet from life support. She spent her final days in palliative care with my father and me always at her bedside. We watched and prayed for days that she would open her eyes, but she never did."
According to her obituary, Viola Butler was a member of First Methodist Church, Columbus, Mississippi. The obituary states, "Mrs. Butler actively watched Beach United Methodist Church, Jacksonville, FL and was a very active minister for the community." It is also stated, "She was a loving mother to her children; and was so proud of Amanda for working at United Methodist Publishing House and pursuing a PHD in Christian Counseling." On the church's website it is stated, "At Columbus First we seek, make, grow, and send followers of Jesus. Our focus is on sharing the unconditional love and acceptance we have experienced from God."
In my own religious experience, "unconditional love and acceptance" is the core of many religion's values, just like First Methodist Church, Columbus, Mississippi professes. Generally, people who pray to God and have faith in God are taught, that if prayer doesn't give them the result they desired, it must be God's will. They accept as part of their religious training that it's God's plan, God's will and not to be challenged, not to be questioned, it is an accepted element of faith. It is supposed to be comforting to know, a loved one died because God indicated by not extending the gift of further life, it was their time to join their heavenly father in heaven.
Instead of being happy for her mother, being blessed to spend her final days surrounded by "over 50 family members" on this family reunion cruise, a mother she describes as "the ring leader and entertainer for our group", she sues Carnival Cruise Lines. The suit seeks damages for negligence, which she says ended her mother's life. I personally disagree. In my opinion, the cruise line exceeded legal and moral obligations, considering the event, circumstances surrounding the event and their treatment of the family.
The Butler lawsuit outlines why it was the cruise line's fault that her mother died, in her original complaint against the cruise line on March 28, 2014 and again, over and over again in Amen-ded Complaint 1, in Amen-ded Complaint 2 on May 5, 2014 and in Amen-ded Complaint 3 on August 4, 2014.
Her testimony before Congress was witnessed on live television by myself and the American public. The testimony could have been viewed by people from around the world who have a wide range of religious beliefs. Butler paints an unflattering picture of Americans, in my opinion, as she outlines the unacceptable treatment she and her dad went through. Congress paused business of the United States to listen to this and other "cruise victims" stories. She testifies that she is suing the cruise line, but doesn't publicly say to Congress, for everyone on television to hear, it's for an amount in excess of $75,000, as the lawsuit specifies.
She tells Congress and viewers at home, "The medical team began the process of shocking her heart followed by 2 minutes of CPR. They had to repeat this protocol four times before her heart began to beat on its own. By now we were approaching 30 minutes since she collapsed. About this time, the ship’s doctor returned from the shore excursion and had to be briefed on what happened. He inquired whether she was stable enough for transport off the ship and into an ambulance. He was told that she was. "
More negligence attributed to the cruise line follows, "When we arrived at the dock, we learned that the ambulance crew had grown tired of waiting for us and left. We waited on the dock for another ambulance to come. During that time, we were standing in the hot sun with Violet on a transportable stretcher." We note the temperature at that time of day on April 18, 2013 was 88 degrees, and yes it was hot. But, they had been in the heat for hours while on the excursion into port. After spending the day in the hot Caribbean port on the cruise excursion as she states on her "cruise victims" page, they went to eat a hamburger in port, then arrived back to the cruise ship and the 51-year-old Viola collapsed while reaching over to pick-up an item.
"She was still unconscious but had to be cleared through customs like an ordinary tourist before we could load her onto the airplane. I also had to be cleared. I did not have my passport . . ."
Another complaint to Congress about Carnival Cruise Lines actions was, "When the National Air Ambulance arrived, Violet and I were loaded into an ambulance and taken to customs again before being allowed to board the jet. She was still unconscious but had to be cleared through customs like an ordinary tourist before we could load her onto the airplane." The words "ordinary tourist", repeated, seems to be a focal point.
The complaint to Congress continued, "We took off at approximately 5:30 pm with a destination of Miami International Airport. We were separated from Dad and no idea if he was being successful in arranging air transportation to Miami for himself." It's noted, that in the lawsuit complaint it's stated "After spending the evening in a local hospital, Butler was air-lifted to a hospital in Miami at the family’s expense". This conflicts with the testimony to congress of being in the air at 5:30 p.m. We wonder why, given the exact circumstances of that port excursion, anyone would expect the cruise line to pay for their travel expenses. This of course, is why travel insurance is urged for cruise travel.
To put the time frame into perspective, Carnival Conquest was in Grand Cayman from 0700 hours until 1600 hours. The ship was due to leave Grand Cayman right after the passengers returned to the cruise ship, then travel to Cozumel, Mexico. At 5:30 pm (1730 hours) Viola Butler and her daughter left Grand Cayman on a flight for Miami, Florida.
Butler's testimony to Congress was that she had cruised numerous times. The Butlers had ample opportunity to research and read the ticket contract but did not choose to do so. She had opportunity to read online reviews, to research and fully understand the implications of international cruise travel. We find this death to be the result of event location, which was not a choice forced by the cruise line, but a location of choice made by this family group and nothing more.
Yet, somehow, Amanda Butler felt the need to write a book and sell it at Amazon.com. The book is titled, Triumph or Tragedy: Stories of Victims at Sea. The short description is described on Amazon as "Triumph or Tragedy is a compilation of true stories written by victims or family members of crimes, sexual assaults, inadequate medical care, and other issues that occur on cruise ships."
The cases presented comprise the bulk of the cases written by "cruise victims" on the ICV website, can be read free of charge, without subscription. The ICV is offering to give the $14.95 book, free of charge with a $100 donation.
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