Suit against Carnival alleges minor sexually assaulted during cruise

By John Suayan, Galveston Bureau | Jan 15, 2009

GALVESTON – A Harris County woman alleges her 13-year-old daughter was sexually assaulted during a cruise last summer and is suing Miami-based Carnival Cruise Lines Inc. on behalf of the child in Galveston County District Court.

Bernadette Dale and her daughter were aboard the Carnival Conquest the afternoon of June 24 when a male employee – a waiter at the ship's Lido Deck Buffet – approached the teen as she went toward her cabin and made an inappropriate pass at her, court papers say.

"During the encounter in the hallway, the Carnival employee made inappropriate and sexually suggestive comments to the minor, grabbed her arm, and forcibly attempted to pull her into an elevator," the original petition says.

The plaintiffs argue the waiter also tried to kiss the girl's face and neck. He was on duty at the time of the alleged incident, the suit says.

The Dales insist the teen "did not consent to any of this behavior."

They fault the employee, whose name was not mentioned nor was named a defendant, for ruining their vacation and affecting the minor's mental state.

"As a result of the Carnival employee's actions, (the minor) suffered injuries including the loss of sleep, significant nervousness and anxiety, all of which will need medical attention for an extended period into the future," the suit says. "Additionally, she was unable to fully enjoy her vacation and has suffered mental distress and trauma due to this incident."

Because the employee was on the duty at the time of the alleged assault, Carnival is vicariously liable for the acts of its employee toward the minor, the complaint says.

"Carnival breached its duty to (the minor) when it hired the perpetrating employee and failed to properly train and supervise him," it explains. "The employee at issue here assaulted a minor child while Carnival failed to supervise the employee to prevent such an occurrence."

Consequently, the Dales seek actual damages and a jury trial.

They are represented by Beaumont attorney Giles Kibbe. Galveston County 56th District Court Judge Lonnie Cox is presiding over the case.

Case No. 09CV0017

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