Monday 26 August 2019

Woman (53) injured on rollercoaster boat ride during €3K holiday loses High Court action

Siobhan Kellett, of Rockfield Green, Maynooth, Co Kildare pictured at the Four Courts Pic: Collins Courts
Siobhan Kellett, of Rockfield Green, Maynooth, Co Kildare pictured at the Four Courts Pic: Collins Courts

Tim Healy

A woman who sued after she fractured her elbow on a rollercoaster boat ride during a shore excursion from a Carribbean cruise has lost her High Court action.

Siobhan Kellett was injured in a "White Knuckle Jet Boat Thrill Ride" - involving 360 degrees turns in the middle of the ocean - when the accident happened, the court heard.

On Thursday, Mr Justice Anthony Barr dismissed her case saying she was not able to keep herself seated as she had been instructed to do and injured herself.

"Unfortunately it was simply an injury which occurred in the course of a vigorous activity," he said.

Ms Kellett (53)  Rockfield Green , Maynooth, Co Kildare, sued British company RCL Cruises Ltd of  Weybridge, Surrey, which operated the cruise ship "Freedom of the Seas". 

She claimed RCL was responsible for the excursion in St Maarten in the West Indies where she took the thrill boat ride.

She also sued Panther Associates, trading as Tour America of Middle Abbey Street, Dublin, where she booked the April 2016 holiday.

The judge could not find that Ms Kellett's injury happened as a result of any negligence on the part of the excursion operators in relation to the condition of the boat.

He could not find there was any liability on the part of the defendants.

Who will pay the costs of the High Court action will be decided at a later date.

Ms Kellett, a dance teacher, was on the seven-night €3,674 cruise to celebrate her 50th birthday along with her silver wedding anniversary.  It was to finish with five days at Las Vegas to dance with her husband at a jive festival.

She said she was thrown out of her seat and banged her elbow against the metal side of the jet boat during  two 360 degree manoeuvres on the boat ride. 

She claimed there was an a failure to provide any or any adequate safety restraints , harness or belts on the jet boat to ensure passengers were kept safe from injury.

The claims were denied.

Mr Justice Barr said he could not hold  the injuries suffered were attributable to any negligence on the part of Ms Kellett.

She had, he said, contracted for the jet boat ride  and knew from the tour description on the website it was going to be an adrenaline-infused rush from a water roller coaster ride.

She had no doubt but it was going to be a vigorous ride because the advertising literature  promised to have her "involuntarily laughing and praying for her life."

The judge said Ms Kellett had not established the excursion operators failed to comply with the relevant standards applicable in St Maarten.  There was simply no evidence of what those standards might be.

Finding there was no negligence for failure to provide restraints like a harness,  Mr Justice Barr said given the risk of capsize, one could not have such restraints in use as that could lead to fatalities if the boat were to capsize.

The judge found there was no negligence in the failure to provide sidebars.

He declined to find the boat owner was negligent for failing to put padding along the side of the boat.

He was satisfied the boat was in a good seaworthy condition and was safe for the excursion.

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News