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Passenger claimed cruise ship failed to warn of open hatch








Glynn County


Glynn County, Superior Court

Injury Type(s):

back-fracture (fracture, L1), back (fracture, L1);
back-fracture (fracture, L3), back(fracture, L3);
back-fracture (fracture, T12), back (fracture, T12);
back-fusion, lumbar;
back-fusion, thoracic;
back-fracture (fracture, L1), vertebra (fracture, L1);
back-fracture (fracture, L3), vertebra (fracture, L3);
back-fracture(fracture, T12), vertebra(fracture, T12);
head; brain-internal bleeding; other-T12 compression; other-pins/rods/screws; other-compression fracture; arterial/vascular-hemorrhage

Case Type:

Admiralty/Maritime – Premises Liability – Failure to Warn; Slips, Trips & Falls – Fall from Height; Premises Liability – Negligent Repair and/or Maintenance

Case Name:

Robert Lowie v. Golden Isles Cruise Lines, Inc.,
No. CE1600199063


January 9, 2018



Robert Lowie (Male, 66 Years)

Plaintiff Attorney(s):

Carl Varnedoe;
Jones Osteen & Jones;
Robert Lowie ■ Billy Jones;
Jones Osteen & Jones;
Robert Lowie

Plaintiff Expert(s):

James Lindley; M.D.; Neurosurgery; Savannah,
GA called by:
Carl Varnedoe, Billy Jones


Golden Isles Cruise Lines Inc.

Defense Attorney(s):

Todd M. LaDouceur;
Galloway, Johnson, Tompkins, Burr & Smith;
Golden Isles Cruise Lines Inc. ■ Tony C. Jones;
Galloway, Johnson, Tompkins, Burr & Smith;
Golden Isles Cruise Lines Inc.


Allianz Insurance


On Dec. 16, 2014, plaintiff Robert Lowie, 66, retired, was a passenger on the Emerald Princess II casino ship in Brunswick. On that date, Lowie fell 10 feet through an open hatch while walking on the vessel. Lowie claimed he injured his head and back. Lowie sued Golden Isles Cruise Lines Inc., which owns and operates the Emerald Princess II, for negligence. Lowie alleged Golden Isles Cruise Lines, Inc. failed to properly maintain the vessel in a reasonably safe condition. Lowie claimed he was walking on the first deck of the four-deck, 200-foot cruise ship when he fell through a hatch left open by a crew member who was making repairs in the engine compartment. Lowie claimed he scraped his head along a steel ladder while falling below into the ship’s engine compartment. He argued that the open hatch was a dangerous condition and the cruise ship failed to warn him of the danger. He also claimed there were no warning signs or barricades around the hatch to prevent passengers from falling into it. The defense contended that the hatch was an open and obvious condition that Lowie clearly could see and he should have walked around it. The defense also argued that there were chairs around the hatch to indicate to passengers that they should not go near the hatch. The defense further maintained that Lowie was a frequent passenger on the vessel, having sailed and gambled on it hundreds of times prior to the incident. As a “VIP member” who went on gambling cruises on the subject ship twice per week during the previous three years, the defense asserted that Lowie was very familiar with the deck’s layout, including the hatches.


An emergency medical crew treated Lowie in the ship’s engine compartment. He was then taken by ambulance to a local emergency room. Lowie claimed a closed injury to his head and three compression spinal fractures to the T12, L1, and L3 vertebrae. He also suffered a brain hemorrhage and underwent surgery to reduce swelling. With regard to the back fractures, he underwent spinal surgery, including fusions at the T12, L1 and L3 levels with implantation of rods, hooks and links, followed by two spinal revision surgeries. Lowie‘s treating neurosurgeon opined that Lowie‘s injuries were caused by the accident on the ship. Lowie claimed residual pain and limitations performing activities of daily living. He sought to recover damages for past and future medicals and past and future pain and suffering. Lowie‘s counsel suggested the jury award more than $2 million. The defense argued that Lowie recovered from his head injury and that his spinal claims were pre-existing and were not caused by his fall on the ship. The defense further argued that Lowie had undergone two prior surgeries to the L5-S1 region.


The jury found Golden Isles Cruise Lines 100 percent liable and determined that Lowie was entitled to $2,236,850 in compensatory damages.

Trial Information:


Amanda F. Williams





Trial Length:


Trial Deliberations:


Editor’s Comment:

This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiff’s and defense counsel.