First suit over Carnival Triumph debacle filed in Galveston

By John Suayan, Galveston Bureau | Feb 21, 2013

GALVESTON - A Collin County woman filed Galveston County's first lawsuit over the recent Carnival Triumph disaster, recent court records show.

Kathy Marie Armstrong was among 4,000 passengers and crew stranded in the Gulf of Mexico after a fire in the engine room knocked out power on the cruise ship. The ship had to be towed to port, a trip that took four days and turned Armstrong’s vacation into a “horrifying and excruciating” ordeal.

Armstrong filed suit against Carnival Corp., doing business as Carnival Cruise Lines, on Feb. 20 in Galveston County District Court.

The first suit filed by a Carnival Triumph passenger was submitted by a Texas woman in Florida, where Carnival is based, the day the boat returned to port. A proposed class action was filed by a Florida law firm a few days later. Armstrong’s is the first suit over the debacle to be filed in Galveston County, where the cruise originated on Feb. 7.

Armstrong claims she was "forced" to endure deplorable, unsafe and unsanitary conditions, including but not limited to, "sweltering temperatures, lack of power and air conditioning, lack of hot or running water and lack of working toilets."

Tug boats eventually arrived to help haul the crippled Triumph to a port in Mobile, Ala., and according to the suit, the plaintiff "feared for her life and safety, under constant threat of contracting serious illness by the raw sewage filling the vessel, and suffering actual or some bodily injury" during the slow journey back to the mainland U.S.

"The vessel listed sharply several times, causing human waste to spill out of non-functioning toilets, flood across the vessel's floors and halls and drip down the vessel's walls," the suit says.

"The plaintiff was forced to endure unbearable and horrendous odors on the filthy and disabled vessel, and wade through human feces in order to reach food lines where the wait was counted in hours, only to receive rations of spoiled food."

The ship disembarked in Mobile the night of Feb. 14.

Armstrong labels the Triumph "a floating toilet, a floating Petri dish [and] a floating Hell," insisting the event in question inflicted physical injuries and "immense, incalculable" mental anguish upon her.

A jury trial is requested.

Attorney Megan A. Whitlock of Johnson, Trent, West & Taylor LLP in Houston is representing Armstrong.

Galveston County 56th District Court Judge Lonnie Cox is presiding over the case.

Case No. 13-CV-258


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