Jury Awards $21.5M To Cruise Passenger Struck In The Head By Ship’s Sliding-Glass Doors

While automatic doors can be very useful — especially on a cruise ship where maybe you don’t want to go around touching too many door handles — they’re not only useless when they don’t work right, but they can hurt: a federal jury has ordered cruise line Holland America to fork over $21.5 million in damages to an Illinois man who suffered a minor brain injury when he was struck in the head by a ship’s sliding-glass door.

The U.S. District Court jury in Seattle handed down one of the largest verdicts in recent memory, notes the Seattle Times, including $16.5 million in punitive damages against the cruise line as part of that hefty award.

The plaintiff’s attorneys produced evidence at trial that dozens of other passengers had suffered from a run-in with sliding doors across the Holland America fleet due to faulty sensor settings, the Times reports: the lawyer said the company “suppressed” documentation for up to 34 other sliding-door incidents throughout its fleet going back three years.

In this case, surveillance video shows the man and his wife leaving the M/S Amsterdam’s penthouse to walk to a pool and following crew members through a pair of sliding-glass doors. Suddenly, the doors shut, hitting the plaintiff in the face and the side of the head. Holland America claimed he walked into the closing doors.

The eight-person jury disagreed, unanimously: the passenger was awarded $5 million for past and future pain, suffering and emotional distress, as well as the punitive damages. His attorney says he suffers memory loss, vertigo and seizures as a result of the injury.

The cruise line has filed documents asking the court to reduce the judgment, calling it “excessive,” and will appeal the verdict.

“Holland America Line is committed to the safety and security of our guests and take all incidents very seriously,” the cruise line said in a statement. “We have no comment regarding the specifics of this lawsuit.”

$21.5M verdict follows repeat injuries from Holland America ships’ doors [Seattle Times]

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