Holland America Line has been ordered to pay a staggering $21.5 million in damages to a cruise ship passenger who apparently suffered a minor brain injury after being hit by a sliding glass door during a cruise in 2011.
Jurors returned the verdict against Seattle-based Holland America Line in US District Court finding that the cruise line acted with reckless disregard for the safety of its passengers, according to the passenger’s attorney.
The passenger, Jim Hausan, was on a round the world cruise in 2011 aboard Holland America’s MS Amsterdam when a moving glass door closed on him, hitting him on the side of the head. Hausman brushed it off initially, but his attorney says that he then “developed severe headaches and neurological issues including loss of balance and fatigue”, which led him to sell his successful business.
The entire incident was actually caught on video, shown above.
Hausman’s attorney, Rick Friedman of the Friedman Rubin Law Firm, argued that an investigation uncovered numerous similar incidents with “at least 16 prior injuries and corporate indifference to the danger posed to passengers.”
“Even though the doors could be easily adjusted to avoid such incidents, the cruise line failed to take any action until Jim’s lawsuit,” read a statement posted by Friedman’s law firm. “There was evidence that Holland America may have been motivated financially as adjusting the doors would increase fuel use due to increased air conditioning.”
The jury’s award included $5 million in compensatory damages and $16.5 million in punitive damages.
“The large punitive award sends a message to Holland America that passenger safety should be its primary consideration, rather than corporate profit,” the statement said.