Brilliance of the Seas Cruise Passenger Says Violent List Caused Wife's Death

January 31, 2011
Brilliance-of-the-Seas-Cruise-Ship (5:15 p.m. EST) -- A Scottish widower is suing Royal Caribbean over the death of his wife, saying the violent listing of Brilliance of the Seas in December is to blame -- a claim that Royal Caribbean is vehemently denying.

The Daily Mirror reported on Sunday that Barbara Davey fell into a coma three days after the December 12 incident and never awoke. Davey's cause of death was given as brain hemorrhage, and according to the Mirror, her husband John has instructed specialist maritime solicitors to sue Royal Caribbean over the incident.

Apparently, no one told Royal Caribbean about the impending litigation. "To date, Royal Caribbean has not been informed of any legal proceedings from Mr. Davey or Mrs. Davey's estate -- we read about the lawsuit in the papers as you have," said Michele Nadeem, a spokeswoman for the line. Nadeem added that there are no legal claims related to the Brilliance incident at all.

Brilliance of the Seas ran into a severe weather system in the Eastern Mediterranean while en route to Alexandria, Egypt. Large waves and heavy winds caused the ship to roll several times, sending beds sliding across cabins, shattering glass elevators, and leaving the dining room and other public areas strewn with damaged furniture. (Now-iconic images showed broken Santa statues and a felled Christmas tree lying on the atrium floor.) The rolling resulted in injuries to 138 passengers -- they largely involved bruises and minor cuts, none were serious, said Nadeem -- and all passengers onboard were given full refunds.

"Barbara was tossed around the cabin and was seriously hurt," Davey told the Mirror. "When the storm calmed and we came out of our cabins, it looked like a bomb had gone off...."

According to the Mirror, Barbara Davey was taken to the hospital when Brilliance reached the next port of call, Malta. "I took Barbara off the ship for a few minutes, but she said she was feeling so ill," Davey told the British outlet. "I took her back to our cabin where she was -- violently sick."

"[She] lapsed into unconsciousness before my eyes, fell into a coma and never woke up," he added.

The crux of Davey's litigation is whether or not an approach to Alexandria should have been attempted given the weather forecasts. Mr. Davey's solicitor Clive Garner of Irwin Mitchell told the Mirror that "we will be investigating a number of issues including the reasonableness of actions taken by the captain when the storms were first forecast." The commander of the ship during the incident, Captain Erik Tengelsen, has been widely quoted as saying the winds were twice as powerful as expected.

According to Nadeem, however, Davey's death was unrelated to the listing incident. "Mrs. Davey had a history of illness," Nadeem told Cruise Critic. "The Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Medical Department has determined that Mrs. Davey's acute medical emergency was caused by a pre-existing medical condition unrelated to the listing of the ship."

Nadeem continued: "Mrs. Davey never stated to the ship's doctor that she hit her head. According to the ship's medical report, an examination of Mrs. Davey did not show any signs of contusions or lacerations." Royal Caribbean is disputing other parts of Davey's story. Nadeem added that Davey did not lose consciousness while onboard, and that the ship's doctor was not alerted until December 15, the second day Brilliance was in Malta. At that point, "the doctor quickly determined she had an acute medical emergency and called an ambulance," she noted.

As to the list itself, the ongoing post-incident review is being conducted by the Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA), as Brilliance of the Seas is registered in the Bahamas. Nadeem told Cruise Critic that there is no set end-date for its conclusion, and that she could not comment on any findings at this point. As previously reported, Captain Tengelsen was placed on voyage leave so he could participate in the review -- a process he's still participating in. We've reached out to the BMA via phone and e-mail but have not heard back at the time of publication.

--by Dan Askin, Associate Editor

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