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Cruise Lines Playing Chess With Surveillance Videos

Posted by HolzbergLegal | June 4, 2014

Recent cases have reminded us of the importance of fighting for Video CCTV (Closed-circuit television/surveillance) tape production before our clients are deposed in their cases. Several major cruise lines have been objecting to production of incident video tapes before our passenger clients give their depositions in Miami, and use discrepancies, however minor, to impeach the statements made in the depositions. The effect of the hidden video, like the New York street “shell game,” is to hide the proof until its too late, knowing that memory is fleeting and most people recall facts very differently from what actually occurred.

Many Federal Court Judges in the Southern District of Florida, have not allowed discovery of these incident videos before the Plaintiff’s deposition is given, giving the cruise lines a major advantage in the deposition. Ironically Florida State Court Judges have been much more willing to enter Orders requiring production of these videos before Plaintiff’s deposition, on the grounds that like any discovery, both sides should have an opportunity to review the images before depositions, as the defendant Cruise line has seen it.

One Federal Court Case – Schulte v. NCL (Bahamas), CASE NO. 10-23265-CIV-MOORE/SIMONTON – allowed pre-deposition production of the video tape, reasoning that if the defendant saw the video before the deposition Plaintiff should have an equal right to view it, and it was not prepared in “anticipation of litigation” as the Rules of procedure require but in the ordinary course of NCL’s business when taped, and only after was it saved for litigation. We know the cruise lines routinely tape the common areas at all times (bet you didn’t know that) and only after you make a claim of an injury incident, at the infirmary or sometimes at the Guest Relations Desk do they review and save the videotape.

This is why when you are injured on a cruise, the Chief or Assistant Chief Security Officer (the ship’s cops) comes to interview you to take a statement, and then insist you come to where you were injured so they can document and photograph the area. This often happens when you’re still in pain and during your medical care or just after. How good do you think your memory is then? How accurate are your images and recollections? DO YOU THINK UNDER THESE CIRCUMSTANCES seeing the tape, if not then, but before you are required to testify under oath in your lawsuit seeking fair compensation for, arguably, what they did to you, is fair, just? Unfortunately a growing number of Federal Court Judges do not agree with that statement.

What do you think?

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