Meyer v. Carnival: Jeffrey Navotny / Passenger Deposition

This review of Jeffrey Navotny’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.

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.

We previously covered depositions of two other passengers reasonably in depth so will only mention any new points raised in the Navotny Deposition.

Jeffrey Navotny Deposition

Michael Erikson attorney for Plaintiff, Robert Oldershaw for Carnival, and Noah Silverman for Cox.

Jeffrey was on the catamaran cruise the day of Mr. Meyer’s accident.

Some of the attorneys were participating by phone. At the beginning they had some challenges figuring out how to best use the phone system, overcoming background noise from the various locations understand who was speaking, objecting, etc.

Jeffrey was on the catamaran with his wife.

When asked what the crew was generally doing prior to reaching the swimming area, Jeffrey said they were talking to the girls on the excursion.

Jeffrey was sitting in the right rear of the catamaran when it arrived at the swimming area.

When asked how he became aware there was something going on with a passenger in the water, he said something affected the performance of the motor, he is guessing something hit the propeller. He saw one of the male crew members come to the rear, open an engine compartment, hit a kill switch in the motor compartment, and dive into the water. The engine compartment was on the left side of the vessel. He pointed to it in a photo and said it had a white lid with a blue perimeter. (pgs.19,20).

Tango Too engine compartment

Tango Too engine compartment

He felt a thud or like something hit the propeller, like the engine coughed or something. The crew member killed the engine less than a minute later. (pg.23)

The retired military medic that helped was a black gentleman. (pgs.38-39).

Jeffrey thinks it was about an hour and fifteen minutes from the incident till the local paramedics arrived.

Jeffrey thinks the swim stop was right between the two Pitons. They were right in the center.

Jeffrey has been on seven previous cruises.

Mr. Oldershaw (for Carnival) asked Jeffrey if there is a kill switch in the area you thought you saw someone using a kill switch. Jeffrey said no, we were just passengers, but I saw him use it.

Oldershaw said, “Well if you don’t know what it is, how do you know he was using it?”, Jeffrey said, “Because the engine stopped when he pushed it.”

Jeffrey went on to say he (Jeffrey) was sitting down and looking inside the compartment when he saw the crew member reach in, push something, the engine stopped, and he dove off. (pgs.57,58).

Oldershaw kept trying to discredit Jeffrey. Oldershaw said, you were sitting down, 25 to 30 feet away, the crew member was had his back to you and was reaching down, “you can’t see where is hand is inside the engine compartment, …”, Jeffrey said No, the crew member’s reaction was he looked overboard, saw there was a problem, immediately reached in, pushed something, the engine stopped, and he jumped off.

Oldershaw then asked, do you know the captain of the ship turned the engine off about the same time. Jeffrey said, nobody was there. He was the one that was up there, he came to the back.

Oldershaw asked, prior to the actual incident to Mr. Meyer, there was nothing that occurred on the Tango Too that gave you the impression the excursion was being ran in an unsafe manner?, Jeffrey responded, “Not correct. I noticed a lack of safety being enforced.”

Jeffrey went on to say safety had always been pushed on his previous excursions, and “this one lacked it considerably.” He noted the method of leaving the boat. The passengers were basically told where the bathrooms and life jackets were and that was about it.

Jeffrey did not hear the instructions that passengers could jump off the side.

But when Silverman asked Jeffrey if Mr. Meyer made a mistake in diving off the boat while the engine was still running, Jeffrey said he would have dove off the boat himself. He would have just dove clear of the boat.

Silverman asked him if the vessel was in good condition and Jeffrey said the sail did not work.

Several questions were asked about life jackets. PGIC comment – I the crew had insisted on Mr. Meyer wearing a life jacket before he jumped overboard, he might not have sank deep enough to have been struck by the prop and/or may not have been pulled back down into the prop the second time.

Redirect by Eriksen for Plaintiff

Jeffrey is a contractor and sometimes a general contractor. Safety is very, very important in his work.

On previous shore excursion vessel trips he observed crews saying this is their boat, this is their rules, you will follow them. This is how we do things to be safe. This vessel lacked that approach. He noted that from the very start, not just after the accident.

Jeffrey thinks the guy kept the engine running against the shore to prevent the catamaran from shifting around as the passengers were exiting on the forward ramp. Jeffrey was sitting on top of the engine on the right side. He thinks at some point the crew stopped it or just let it run at idle, then they used the port engine to push against the shore. (pg.115).

When asked if the crew was paying attention to the passengers prior to the incident, Jeffrey said they were talking to the girls.

Recross-Examination by Oldershaw for Carnival

Jeffrey restated, that if he had dove in, he would have dove away from the boat and not straight down by the moving propeller.

The witness waived his right to review the transcript for errors.

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