On November 6 ,2015, Bernardo Elbaz, 31, aka Bernardo Garcia Teixeira Elbaz, aka Bernardo Garcia a filmmaker, screenwriter, director, producer who lived in Manhattan, New York was sailing with his newlywed husband of one year, Erik Elbaz on a Caribbean cruise to celebrate Erik's birthday aboard Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines (RCCL) Oasis of the Seas.
Cruise Bruise covered this case, extensively. On our Cruise Ship Deaths page for the incident, we quote the lawyer in this case numerous times. ". . . the attorney for Mr. Elbaz says,"The cruise line is saying this was a domestic dispute and a suicide, but it was anything but that." The attorney goes on to say, "There was a big altercation at the Solariam bar, as a result of that Bernardo who went overboard, went back to his room and was furious..."
Now, the lawsuit filed on November 1, 2016, states, "On or about November 6, 2015, Bernardo Texeira Garcia and his legally married spouse, Erik Elbaz, were paying passengers on Defendant’s vessel, Oasis of the Seas, which was in navigable waters.
On said date, the decedent, Bernardo Texeira Garcia, fell from his stateroom on deck 7, landed on the life boats on deck 6, and eventually fell overboard into the ocean – approximately 55 feet without any floatation devices. Prior to the fall into the ocean, this legally married gay couple was repeatedly exposed to homophobic taunts and slurs by Defendant’s employees.
Royal Caribbean’s employees were present when the decedent fell and despite having grabbed Mr. Garcia by his hands, failed to secure him and pull him up to safety. Thereafter, Royal Caribbean negligently and/or willfully and/or recklessly did not initiate a reasonable search and rescue of the decedent in the ocean. Royal Caribbean failed to deploy lifeboats within a reasonable time and failed to promptly stop and/or turn the ship around. Consequently, the decedent was lost at sea, never to be found.
On or about November 6, 2015, Bernardo Texeira Garcia and Erik Elbaz, were paying passengers on the Defendant’s vessel, Oasis of the Seas, which was in navigable waters, for a cruise which began on or about October 31, 2015.
Mr. Garcia and his legal spouse, Erik Elbaz were victims of Royal’s unfailing and repetitive anti-gay insults throughout their cruise. Since the first day of the cruise, Garcia and Elbaz were the subject of continuous abusive homophobic slurs. They were repeatedly called a “lipstick” by a bartender on the first day of the cruise.
Mr. Garcia and his spouse, Erik Elbaz, complained to Royal Caribbean’s management about the incidents immediately. Again, on the evening of November 5, 2015, the decedent, Bernardo Texeira Garcia, was called a pedophile and other anti-gay slurs by Royal Caribbean’s employees.
Mr. Garcia was extremely distraught by the employees’ discriminatory and offensive insults, he left the pool and returned to his stateroom. Once at his stateroom (deck 7), he told his legal spouse, Erik Elbaz, about the insults he was a victim of and became even more distraught.
Shortly thereafter, RCCL’s security officers reported to the decedent’s stateroom and engaged in an argument with Garcia and Elbaz, threatening to incarcerate Mr. Garcia.
A series of events that ensued in the stateroom between Mr. Garcia and the security officers which ultimately led Garcia to end up on the Sixth (6) deck life boats, where Mr. Garcia was holding on for his dear life for several minutes.
Several RCCL security officers and/or crewmembers grabbed Mr. Garcia by his arms and had a hold of him for several minutes, but ultimately failed to secure and rescue him from falling overboard. Mr. Garcia fell approximately 55 feet into the cold and dark ocean waters. See video
Mr. Elbaz witnessed the entire incident.
Mr. Elbaz repeatedly begged and cried for Royal Caribbean officials to stop the ship and rescue his spouse. In response, Royal Caribbean officials failed to rescue Mr. Garcia, they simply kept telling Mr. Elbaz to “calm down.”
Despite having rescue boats, and first-hand knowledge of Mr. Garcias’ fall into the ocean, the Oasis of the Seas maintained its course and speed, and rescue boats were never timely deployed.
Royal Caribbean’s rescue boats took an unreasonable period of time after Mr. Garcia fell overboard to be deployed. As a result, in all likelihood Mr. Garcia had to endure a horrific and painful drowning. Royal Caribbean’s willful and/or reckless conduct warrants the imposition of punitive damages.
The United States Coast Guard initiated a search and rescue operation after receiving a distress communication from the Oasis. Mr. Garcia’s body was never found."
The complaint alleges, " At all times material, Erik Elbaz repeatedly cried and begged for Royal Caribbean officials (crew members, security staff, ship officers) to help rescue his spouse, and repeatedly requested Royal Caribbean employees to stop the ship and deploy rescue boats. Instead of taking Mr. Elbaz’s cries for help more seriously and taken affirmative action, Royal Caribbean confined Mr. Elbaz’s against his will in order to isolate him from other passengers.
Mr. Elbaz had to endure unnecessary confinement and isolation, during which he suffered severe emotional distress, while he continued to beg Royal Caribbean officials to search and rescue his spouse. As time passed, Mr. Elbaz feared for his spouse’s imminent death, and felt helpless, visualizing his spouse floating in the middle of the ocean by himself without a life jacket.
Moreover, Mr. Elbaz was so distraught by the fact that RCCL employees let his spouse fell overboard that he immediately contacted his family in the United States to seek help. Mr. Elbaz was uncontrollably crying for help as he felt his like his heart was being stabbed.
Mr. Elbaz is still undergoing therapy to help him manage the severe emotional distress caused as a result of the result of this incident."
The lawsuit further states, "Erik Elbaz experienced in the past mental and emotional anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, impairment and inconvenience in the normal pursuits and pleasures of life. In particular, Mr. Elbaz has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression. Since the incident, Mr. Elbaz also has difficulty sleeping, and experiences nightmares on a daily basis. These losses continue into the future."
Editor's Note: The lawsuit, "Erik Elbaz v. Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines" claims Elbaz fell overboard. But the video captured by filmmaker Bernardo Elbaz hosted on Vimeo shown on the law firms blog displays willful intent to go overboard, as an act of defiance against the cruise line. https://www.lipcon.com/blog/oasis-of-the-seas-baez-overboard-full-video/
This entire segment that follows is clipped from the law firms public blog, within the clip is Bernardo Elbaz final statement that was clipped from the video shown here in bold.
"He then sets down the cell phone in the corner of the room and looks at the camera and says, in half Portuguese half English, “because of this, I am throwing myself…” While he says this, Bernardo Elbaz is pointing toward the Royal Caribbean crewmembers. The six second portion is blacked out because of the family’s wishes.
At the end of the second part of the video you can clearly hear Bernardo Elbaz open the door to the balcony as he prepares to go overboard prior to his final on camera statement, “because of this, I am throwing myself…”. The video continues after Erik Elbaz rushes to the balcony followed by the crew-members. The lawsuit makes no mention of the blog entry, "Erik Elbaz opens the door and runs after his husband, followed by security who effectively tackles Erik Elbaz at the balcony, pushing into Bernardo Elbaz and sending him over the cabin balcony"
Nonetheless, it is clear that Bernardo Elbaz’s exclamation, so Erik Elbaz and security can hear, is made in an effort to underscore his continued mistreatment by Royal Caribbean. As he approaches the balcony, Erik Elbaz opens the door and runs after his husband, followed by security who effectively tackles Erik Elbaz at the balcony, pushing into Bernardo Elbaz and sending him over the cabin balcony and onto the lifeboat platform below where he landed with his entire body on the platform. [CBI Editor Comment: It is curious how this statement is not mentioned in the lawsuit which claimed he fell.] Bernardo Elbaz is then repositioned on the lifeboat platform by Royal Caribbean’s security so that he is desperately hanging onto the platform. He ultimately loses his grip and falls into the ocean.
After Bernardo Elbaz falls into the ocean, Royal Caribbean security reports, “he fell overboard.” You can hear Erik Elbaz immediately correct them in the video: “He didn’t fall. You pushed him! You killed him! He didn’t jump. He didn’t jump! You had him; why? Why?”
Soon after Erik Elbaz's husband jumped over the railing and began clinging to lifeboat support, Erik Elbaz began screaming, "you murdered him", combined with Bernardo Elbaz’s last statement, this appears to be an intentional set-up by both men.
Both men, the plaintiff and his filmmaker husband were video taping the incident on their cell phones. See the Cruise Ship Deaths page for full information on the history of this incident.