Meyer v. Carnival: Siobhan O’Grady / Passenger Deposition

This review of Siobhan O’Grady’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.

Siobhan, O’Grady, a New York attorney, was also on the Cox Catamaran Cruise to the Pitons on the day of the Meyer incident.

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.

Siobhan O’Grady Deposition

Mr. Eriksen examined him for the Plaintiff.

Siobhan was on the Carnival cruise ship and went on the catamaran shore excursion with her boyfriend at that time.

When the catamaran was cruising they made an announcement including they were going to stop to swim and would be serving beverages on the way back.

They saw the Pitons and pulled into a small beach. The catamaran pushed up to the shore and they dropped the ladder off the front. The crew said the passengers could jump off the back or walk off the front. She saw a few people jump off both sides of the back of the boat.

When the announcement was made that passengers could jump off the back or walk down the front stairs, to the best of Siobhan’s knowledge, she thought the engines were still running. She did not see of hear any crew member protest when people started jumping off the back of the boat.

Siobhan there was not enough room for her and her boyfriend in the chairs so they were sitting on a box she thought might contain life vests / life jackets a little to the rear of the vessel on the left side next to the railing.

She and her boyfriend were waiting for the line off the front to thin out before exiting when she heard Mr. Meyer’s wife screaming. Then the crew members were screaming and running around and “that’s when they stopped the motors.” Someone went to the controls and then the motor stopped.

One or two crew members jumped in the water and they were trying to lift him onto the boat. But the boat was much higher in the water and they could not actually lift him up. Then they drug him to the shore right past where she was sitting.

Siobhan did not remember is she actually saw Meyer jump into the water. She remembers some people jumping and hearing the splashes. She is not sure if she turned around and watched them jump or not.

Mr. Meyer was laid on the beach parallel to the shore. Every fifth or sixth wave was a little larger and would wash over him. The crew got a hose from the boat to wash him off.

Siobhan did not see a first aid kit. Initially the crew had some paper towels and tended to him. Her impression of the crew was “that they were totally panicked and lost.” Later she heard a male military nurse that happened to be on board helped Mr. Meyer.

Thirty minutes to an hour later, a pickup showed up. They put him on a backboard and loaded him in the pickup truck.

Siobhan did not go for a swim because there was blood in the water and she was kind of horrified by the whole thing.

When the catamaran landed back at the dock, there were a few Caravan Shore Excursion representatives there, she suspects they were there because they had heard of the accident. As she walked out she walked right by them and no one said anything to her. She was one of the first people off the boat.

She and her boyfriend went to the shore excursion desk on the cruise ship to make a statement. They wanted to put on record what they saw, just so Carnival would know how poorly it was handled. She was aware the tours were contracted out, but she wanted to make sure that Carnival did not use that excursion crew again. Besides speaking to the desk, she also left them a handwritten statement with her boyfriend at that time. She did not keep a copy of it because they did not have a copier. She has not since seen that statement.

She thinks she wrote the statement the day after the accident. She and her boyfriend had contacted the shore excursion desk and asked the manager to call them. They never called back, so they went to the desk and wrote the statement. She put as much on details of the incident as she could remember in the statement.

Cross Examination by Bob Oldershaw for Carnival

Counting the cruise on which Mr. Meyer was injured, Siobhan has been on four cruises, all with Carnival, and they were all in the Caribbean. She knew excursions were ran by separate crews, but thought they were vetted and endorsed by Carnival. That is why they booked shore excursions through Carnival.

Siobhan, an attorney, did not read the disclaimer on the back of the ticket. PGIC comment – Oldershaw belittled her for not reading it, when it really stands as an example that nobody reads them.

Similarly, she did not see “Cox and Company” on the excursion ticket.

She was not in a position to see if there was any prop wash or not when the engine was engaged.

She remembers the engine being very loud when they were going full speed. (PGIC comment – she may have been sitting near or on the port engine access hatch)

Oldershaw asked Siobhan if she spoke to any of Meyer’s friends the next day and asked them why Meyer jumped off into the water next to an engine that was running. She did not. (pg.71).

Four or five people jumped off the back. Mr. Meyer was not the first to jump in.

She does not remember the crew offering life jackets to those who felt uncomfortable swimming.

Siobhan remembers an announcement on the catamaran as they were leaving Castries and another when they got to the beach. At the beach they said something like, okay you can jump off the boat and go down the ladder.

She does not remember anyone wearing a life jacket at the front or rear of the vessel.

Oldershaw asked Siobhan if on the catamaran on the way back from the incident if there was any talk on the vessel about why Mr. Meyer would have jumped from the vessel right next to an engine that obviously has a rotating propeller. She said no, several people pretty much kept to themselves on the way back and it was pretty quiet. PGIC comment – its interesting that no one ever asked witnesses if the crew went ahead and served alcohol on the way back or not. Some photos show a pretty lively crowd on the vessel, but that may have been on the way down.

When the accident happened Siobhan thinks a crew member ran over to the right side of the boat where she thought the controls were and all of a sudden the engine stopped running, so she thinks he turned it off, but she could be wrong.

She remembers the catamaran being very crowded.

Oldershaw asked her that with some previous cruise and shore excursion experience, she knows these excursions take place in remote areas and understands that is sometimes takes a while for medical care to arrive. She said, “I guess I know that now.”

Mitchell Examination for Cox

Siobhan and her boyfriend had a conversation with the couple traveling with the Meyers a day or two after the accident while everybody was still aboard the cruise ship. The couple gave them an update on his condition. Siobhan told the couple that her and her boyfriend had left a written statement with Carnival including their contact information.

The box she and her boyfriend were sitting on was not comfortable. She thinks it may have been an extension of the boat and is not sure it could have been opened. (PGIC comment – again we wonder if she might have been sitting on the engine access hatch or near it)

Mike Eriksen Follow Up for the Plaintiff

Siobhan heard no announcement telling the passengers to quit jumping from the vessel. (pg.135).

Oldershaw Follow Up for Carnival

Oldershaw asked Siobhan, “First that with respect to the announcement about jumping, certainly the announcement that it was okay to jump didn’t mean that you not use your common sense and jump by a running engine, with propeller; did it?”, she said, I would not have jumped, but the announcement said to jump.

Oldershaw went over some of the disclaimers on the tickets, web site, contracts, and emails sent to them. Siobhan said they purchased the cruise through a travel agent but bought the excursion after boarding the vessel. Oldershaw said that when you purchase through a travel agent, you give the travel agent the authority to purchase tickets in your behalf and to subject you to all the terms and conditions of the contract.

Redirect Mr. Eriksen for the Plaintiff

Eriksen wanted to Siobhan to assume there was a distinction between the engine running and the propellers turning (the engine could be running and the propellers could be disengaged). It seemed like he was trying to ask her if when the crew made the announcement to jump in, the props might have been disengaged at that moment and then engaged later but she seemed to feel the vessel was still being pushed upon the beach even though she could see no visual indications of the propellers turning.

Although she left a statement at the Carnival excursion desk, she knows of no formal Carnival investigation of the accident.

Eriksen told he that if she wishes a copy of the statement she supplied Carnival she can ask Carnival for it. Then asked her, would you like to have a copy of that statement, and are you willing to request Carnival provide it to you. Oldershaw objected. Eriksen said she could request it. She said she would like to have a copy of her statement. Oldershaw objected.

Then Eriksen said, Are you hereby requesting that Carnival provide you with a copy of that statement. Oldershaw objected. She said yes and provided them an email address on the record to send it to. (pg.149).

Siobhan O’Grady elected to review her deposition for possible mistakes vs. waiving the right and the deposition ended.

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