Meyer v. Carnival: Jack Cardillo / Passenger Deposition

This review of Jack Cardillo’s deposition is part of our much larger coverage of the Michael Meyer v. Carnival Cruise Lines et al. case resulting from a catamaran propeller accident on a cruise ship shore excursion.

Jack Cardillo was a passenger on the catamaran that injured Michael Meyer.

Most of our coverage of these depositions comes from legal documents in PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records). We encourage those who wish to study the case more in depth to establish a PACER account and view the original records. Fees are typically about a dime a page.

The deposition began at 8:30 am.

Direct Examination by Michael Erikson Plaintiff Attorney

Jack Cardillo is one of the gentlemen on the catamaran shore excursion to the Pitons that dove from the stern several minutes before Michael Meyer dove from the same location. He thinks he purchased catamaran excursion tickets for him and his wife from Carnival after they boarded the ship at the shore excursion desk. The tickets were later delivered to his room.

Tango Too Sail Cat, Sea Spray tours, St. Lucia

Tango Too Sail Cat, Sea Spray tours, St. Lucia

When they started to board, he noticed there was no sail. He asked a crew member about it. They said their had been a storm a couple years ago and the sail blew away. Jack was surprised they had not replaced it in that amount of time and mentioned it to the crew member.

Photos on their web site, as seen above, still show the sail.

PGIC side comment – if they are not going to use the mast, it might be a good idea to disassemble it or cut it off. Numerous similar vessels have sailed their masts into power lines or been demasted (mast breaks off and falls on passengers) both of which can be deadly. We suspect they leave it up for esthetics even without a sail.

The vessel went to view the Pitons, then started back up the coast and stopped for the swim. While he and his wife had moved around the vessel earlier, when it came to the swimming stop they were sitting in the same general area as the Meyers (near the cutout in the side of the hull on the port side).

Jack recalls the crew consisting of three or four males and one female.

Jack thinks they did motor into Marigot Bay and maybe one other scenic stop along the way, but the catamaran did not stop.

When the boat pulled into the swimming stop, they were beginning to tie the boat to an existing mooring line and announced passengers could proceed down the ladder off the bow or could jump off the back.

Shortly before Jack jumped, Mr Meyer who he did not then know, said, “Well, you go first, and if your fine, I’ll follow you.” Jack acknowledged, jumped off the port side and proceeded to swim to shore.

Tango Too engine compartment

Tango Too engine compartment

Jack was the first to dive in. He was followed by a younger gentleman, then later by Michael Meyer. Michael jumped in about 90 seconds after Jack. During that time Jack hear no one making any announcements about not entering the water.

About ten to fifteen seconds after Michael entered the water, he started yelling for help. Jack had already reached the surf by then. A couple crew members jumped in and used throw rings and life jackets to get Michael Meyer to shore who appeared to be going into shock. Initially they used Carnival towels as tourniquets on his legs, they were later replaced with ropes.

A gentleman passenger on board said he was a military nurse and two female passengers on board said they were nurses as well. Together, they helped Mr. Meyer. The boat had a freshwater hose they brought over to try to clean his wounds. (pgs.35-37).

Jack and some other passengers were holding towels over the group to shade them and help the medical people better see Mr. Meyer’s injuries and symptoms.

About 30 to 45 minutes after the accident, the red pickup arrived. It departed with Mr. Meyer about 15 to 20 minutes after that.

The announcement was made they passengers could go off the bow stairway or jump from the side of the boat. No crew members said anything about not jumping from the side the boat prior to the incident and Jack saw no crew members working on an engine toward the left rear of the boat. (pgs.47-48).

Examination by Robert Oldershaw for Carnival

Jack has owned boats for thirty years. He and his wife both thought the engine was off when he jumped in and when Mr. Meyer jumped in. Neither of them heard the engine running. When the boat had been traveling south from Castries they both heard the engine and felt the resulting vibrations through the vessel. (pg.51).

Jack had previously been on nine or ten other cruises.

Jack saw no prop wash from the engines before he dove in. (pg.63,64).

Jack did no observe any crew members handing out life jackets to passengers that wanted them. He said the water was just inches deep at the bow and he saw no use for them there.

Examination by Ms. Rachael Mitchell for Cox & Company

Jack is an experienced boater and has owned boats for 30 years, plus he has been on about nine or ten different cruises. He did not think the catamaran engine was running when he or Mr. Meyers jumped off. Jack and his wife had moved around to multiple locations when the catamaran was underway to enjoy different views and could definitely hear the engine and sense its vibrations when the boat was underway.

Jack is aware the shore excursion tours are generally ran by independent operators.

He saw no prop wash when he prepared to jump. Jack jumped in, a young gentleman jumped in, then Mr. Meyer jumped in. He saw no crew members passing out life jackets. Jack did a shallow dive off the catamaran (jumped head first and away from the catamaran). He popped up and headed toward shore, he did not go in feet first.

Jack said that after the accident, the people (passengers) involved in the shore excursion got back on the vessel and swapped email addresses and gave them to the couple that was traveling with the Meyer’s. When the vessel got back to shore some of them spoke with the Carnival people about the accident. No information was ever given to them by Carnival about Mr. Meyer.

PGIC comment – we noted in the somewhat similar Schulman accident, passengers made an effort to gather digital images later on the cruise ship.

Jack spoke to the Carnival manager of the shore excursion desk. He told him the man almost died and complained about the catamaran not having a sail. Jack did not know who operated the catamaran excursion to the Pitons. (pgs.73,74).

The crew members did not appear to have any medical training. He thinks the gentleman from the military saved Michael Meyer’s life.

Examination by Rachael Mitchell for Cox

Rachel Mitchell asked him about the first announcement made on the vessel when they said something about life vests right after the boarded the catamaran. She asked if anything was said about other safety equipment such as a first aid kit. Jack said something might have been said about a first aid kit, but he does not remember it. He remembers them telling the passengers where the bathrooms were.(pg.78).

When they pulled up to the beach, passengers were told they could exit the front or jump off the side. Jack recalls no life jacket instructions being given at that time.

There were three or four male crew members and one female crew member.

Mitchell started asking Jack if Mr. Meyer could have been injured by something other than the propeller. Jack said he’s seen cuts from coral and from barnacles on ships. Mr. Meyer’s injuries were lateral, like slicing, and deep. He saw bone, muscle, fat, and lots of blood. Jack thinks it was the propeller, but it could have been something else.

When Michael Meyer was injured and the crew was alerted, they got him to the beach, but did not provide medical assistance. Rachael Mitchell put a bit of a spin on it with, “So it’s your testimony that whatever medical assistance was not provided by the crew members, it was because it was being provided by someone that they felt was more experienced?”

Then she asked Jack if he knew if any of the crew had medical training or if any said they did not have medical training. He did not know and they did not say.

Jack is not sure who called for medical assistance. There is a sign on the beach visible in several photos with a phone number to call for help. Jack said he saw that same sign just a month ago when he was back there on another Carnival shore excursion. He is not sure what it was called. It involved a powerboat ride to a few beaches and Marigot Bay.

Jack kept complaining about the catamaran involved in the Meyer incident not having a sail. Cox’s attorney asked him, “The lack of a sail on the catamaran didn’t cause or contribute to Mr. Meyer’s injuries in anyway that you know of, did it?”, Jack responded, “I guess I would say that if there was a sail, they wouldn’t have had to have the motors running. And if the motors didn’t need to be running, he wouldn’t have gotten injured, if indeed he was cut by the props, which we are assuming.” PGIC comment – we bet she wished she hadn’t asked that question.

The evening of the incident, Jack and his wife heard a knock on their door, room service brought them some wine, chocolate covered strawberries, and a signed letter from the cruise ship captain thanking him for helping their beloved passenger who was not named.

Cox’s attorney asked several questions about some brochure or description of the tour saying something about passengers would need to be able to climb a ladder to enter or exit the water. Jack does not remember the description, and thinks the forward exit was more of a stair case. The attorney was trying to get Jack to turn the ladder requirement into a reason why he and others should not have jumped off the vessel, they were supposed to use the ladder. He kept coming back with it being more like a staircase and that it has been determined they announced passengers could jump from the side of the catamaran. She said, she does not know if that announcement has been determined, but recognizes that is his testimony. (pg.103).

Re-examination by Erickson for Plaintiff

Erickson asked Jack if he paid all his money to Carnival for onboard expenses (shore excursions, tips, bar bills, etc). Jack said all the bills were put on his on board ship credit card. There is no cash on the ship.

Ericksen asked Jack whose name was on the shore excursion tickets, Jack is sure he saw Carnival’s name on them. He does not recall seeing a tour operators name on the tickets to the Pitons.

Ericksen asked Jack if it was ever disclosed to him before he went on the excursion that the name of the subcontractor might be different that the actual tour operator. It had not. Similarly, he had not been told the subcontractor might not have the type and level of insurance required by Carnival.

One of the reasons Jack goes on “sanctioned” shore excursions (those purchased though cruise ships) is “we feel safety is paramount.”

Eriksen thanked Jack for coming and testifying today in behalf of Michael Meyer and in behalf of Eriksen Law Firm.

Re-examination by Oldershaw for Carnival

Jack said the propeller could have just been rotating in the surf. He has observed that with his boats.

Oldershaw asked if when Mr. Meyer jumped straight down off the boat, surfaced, and started to swim, if he could have kicked the propeller. Jack said, that from the injuries he observed, the propeller had to be turning at some rate of speed. He does not think just kicking the propeller could have caused those injuries. Jack added that if Mr. Meyer had been impacted by a full-blown spinning propeller when the boat was underway, they were probably spinning 2 or 3,000 rpm, he probably would not be here today.

When asked if he had ever seen injuries from a full throttle propeller, Jack said no.

The deposition ended at 11:48 am with attorneys joking about which one of them was going to buy lunch for the witnesses.

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