Australia Royal Caribbean loses bid to block White Island volcano survivors suing in United States

11:25  18 june  2021
11:25  18 june  2021 Source:   smh.com.au

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White Island ’s volcanic activity level increased in the weeks before the excursion to level 2, the highest before an eruption, and the Browitts allege that during the tour a guide told Krystal it was “nearing level 3” – an eruption. They allege Royal Caribbean either knew or ought to have known Royal Caribbean has not filed defences to either of the US cases, both of which were lodged earlier this month. However, in its Australian federal court lawsuits against the survivors , Royal Carribbean claims that both the Reeds and the Browitts are bound by ticket terms and conditions that restrict any

Royal Caribbean Cruises is attempting to stop some victims of the White Island volcano disaster from suing in the United States by filing a proceeding against them in the Australian Federal Court. Key points: Marie Browitt's daughter and husband died due to the eruption. The eruption killed 22 people and inflicted severe injuries to the Australians Marie and Stephanie Browitt, who lost family members in the eruption, and American couple Paul and Ivy Reed, who suffered severe injuries, launched separate legal proceedings in the US state of Florida, where the company is based, to seek damages.

A person takes photos of volcanic eruption at New Zealand's White Island, Dec. 9, 2019. © (Photo by Michael Schade/Handout/Xinhua via Getty) (Xinhua/ via Getty Images) A person takes photos of volcanic eruption at New Zealand's White Island, Dec. 9, 2019.

Cruise giant Royal Caribbean has lost its bid to block an Australian family from taking legal action against it in the United States over the disastrous 2019 trip to New Zealand's White Island, where a volcanic eruption killed 22 people including 14 Australians.

The Federal Court of Australia has cleared the way for Marie Browitt and her daughter Stephanie to sue the international cruise operator where its headquarters are located in Miami.

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Mother and daughter who were victims of the White Island volcanic eruption are allowed to sue the cruise ship company Royal Caribbean over the disaster. Marie Browitt and daughter Stephanie, 24, were told in the federal court they can now sue Royal Caribbean Cruises in the United States over psychological and physical injuries suffered in the tragedy. The cruise line argued in court it was not responsible for the injuries and deaths - including the loss of Krystal and Paul Browitt - resulting from the eruption, but lost its case, 9News reported.

The White Island volcano off New Zealand's south island erupted on December 9, 2019, claiming the lives of 21. When the volcano - believed to be dormant - blew up, there were 47 people on the island , the majority tourists. All who survived the tragedy suffered burns - some to 90 per cent of their body - and spent months in hospital. Those gathered heard how Kristine and Anthony - who had booked the cruise for Mr Langford's birthday - were loving and dedicated parents to their two children. Jesse has been released from the burns ward but requires regular treatment at Royal North Shore Hospital.

Stephanie Browitt was hiking on White Island, or Whakaari, on December 9, 2019, with a group of tourists from the Ovation of the Seas ship including her father Paul and 21-year-old sister Krystal when the volcano erupted.

All three sustained horrific injuries from the volcano's exploding cloud of molten rock and ash. Krystal died that day, while Paul died in hospital in Melbourne a month later.

Another 12 Australians were among the 22 killed in the disaster, while 25 people were injured.

Marie, who did not join her family on the excursion is now Stephanie's full-time carer after her surviving daughter suffered third-degree burns to 70 per cent of her body, lost her fingers, and was hospitalised for six months including an initial two-week coma.

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White Island survivors opened up about harrowing ordeal since volcano disaster. Eruption off New Zealand last December claimed 21 lives, including 17 Aussies. Unseen footage shows tour guide warning about an increased risk warning level. Moments later video shows volcano erupting as They were forced to flee for their lives and sought shelter behind a rock near the water as the dark cloud of volcanic gas quickly enveloped the island . The couple spent almost two months recovering from their injuries in separate hospitals. They returned to the United States at the end of January and were

Survivors from the volcanic eruption on the New Zealand island of Whakaari- White Island thank rescuers for saving them as Jacinda Ardern extends her condolences. "I want to send a message of aroha [love] and support to the survivors overseas, their families, and those who lost their loved ones as well as those who are here with us in the room today." 'Remembering the last time we saw Gavin'. For the families around the world impacted by the New Zealand volcano tragedy, December 9 is a date that comes with heaviness.


The two surviving Browitt women commenced legal action against the Liberian-registered Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd in December 2020, alleging the company contracted with White Island Tours for the disastrous excursion, causing loss and damages suffered as a result of certain "acts and omissions".

Within two weeks of the lawsuit being filed in the US, Royal Caribbean sought to restrain the Browitts from pursuing legal action in Florida, arguing that under the terms of their contract, any disputes would be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of NSW courts.

That claim was dismissed in the Federal Court on Friday.

Justice Angus Stewart SC noted in his judgment that there are no parallel proceedings underway in Australia, and as Royal Caribbean is headquartered in Florida where the omissions and acts are alleged to have occurred, "the pursuit of the Florida proceeding is entirely legitimate and in no sense unconscionable".

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White Island volcano survivor Stephanie Browitt (pictured) has been wearing a a full face mask to protect her mottled skin. 'I can honestly never forget them because the amazing impact they've left on me is huge. They never stopped cheering me on from ICU to the burns ward and to the day I left. 'If I'm going to show my face it's going to be because I'm ready to show my face and I'm comfortable to show my face.' Ms Browitt was on White Island with her father and sister when the volcano erupted. Her mother had decided to stay on board the Royal Caribbean 's Ovation of the Seas cruiseliner

White Island volcano survivor out of coma and told of deaths of husband and daughter. Australian victim Lisa Dallow awake in a serious but stable condition two months after New Zealand volcano erupted. White Island volcano eruption: 13 victims still in hospital a month on. Four remain in critical condition while two people still missing after 17 killed in New Zealand disaster.

He acknowledged that the Browitts "enjoy certain legitimate juridical advantages" in taking legal action in the US, including higher damages.

In an Instagram post earlier this month, Stephanie Browitt vowed to continue to fight, alongside her mother, for her dead father and sister.

"When times get tough and I struggle, I remind myself that we're doing this for you both. You both deserved better and you both should be here with mum and I," she wrote.

On Friday, she said she and her mother "shed tears of hope" after the court found in their favour.

"It's just the first small step towards getting justice for my father Paul and my sister Krystal."

A spokeswoman for Royal Caribbean said the company commenced the action against the Browitts "because we believed matters would be more appropriately determined in New South Wales, as we believed the contracts between the parties were under NSW law."

She said Royal Caribbean would examine Friday's judgment. "This does not change the heartfelt empathy we feel for all those impacted by this tragedy."

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