In the realm of medical attention for an
accident aboard a cruise ship, the first thing
one thinks of is the ship’s infirmary or medical
office. There, a passenger can get immediate
first aid or more serious care for injuries.
Physician’s assistants, nurses, and ship’s
doctors are available to tend to passenger
needs. After those immediate needs are met,
the ship’s safety or security officer could be
contacted to file a shipboard accident report.
However, after the cruise ship has docked
and all passengers head home, there is
another type of doctor’s visit that takes place
long after the vacation has ended. This is the
independent medical examination, also
known as the IME. This is the physical exam
conducted by a licensed physician, such as
an M.D. or D.O., on behalf of the defendant
cruise line. This medical practitioner may be
retained directly by the cruise line, their
insurance carrier, or P & I club.
While the visit to the ship’s infirmary was to
seek immediate attention, the purpose of the
IME is to examine the passenger and evaluate
the validity of injuries claimed. While referred
to as “independent,” it’s important to
remember that this medical professional has
been retained by vessel interests or their
property and indemnity clubs.
A recent federal district court case in the
Southern District of Florida brought attention
to the issue of whether a passenger injured
on a cruise ship could videotape this
independent medical exam. In Case 14-20153,
involving Carnival Cruise Line, the magistrate
judge issued a legal order granting in part and
denying in part 20 motion to strike. The
passenger was scheduled for an IME. Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure allow for defendant’s
to conduct compulsory physical examination
of a plaintiff to verify allegations raised in the
summons and complaint.
It was accepted that the substantive law
applicable to the action involving a tort arising
on a vessel would be general maritime law,
the procedural rules for which are developed
by the federal courts. (Keefe v. Bahama
Cruise Line, Inc, 867 f. 2d 1318, 1320 (11th Cir.
1989). This applies whether jurisdiction is
based on diversity of citizenship (U.S.
Constitution, Art. III, §2) (reference 28 U.S.C. §
1332(a). - subject-matter jurisdiction in
federal court - federal question jurisdiction).
Under the federal rules of civil procedure,
Rule 35 does not directly address videotaping
compulsory medical exams.
The claimant wanted her attorney and spouse
to be present, together with a court reporter
to videotape the exam. The judge ruled that
the husband could be present, but that the
attorney and videotaping equipment would not
be permitted. Read the entire decision by the
U.S. District Court Judge in Davanzo v.
Carnival Cruise Lines, Case 14-20153, So.
District of Florida.
|Cruise Ship Medical Care - After the Infirmary
After the cruise ship doctor or nurse, what happens... Cruise lines shoreside physician
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Maritime law issues that arise in the
post-accident shoreside physician's care
are addressed by Tim in the October 2014
issue of WorkBoat magazine.