Cruise Line Could Be in Trouble Over Champagne Cork

A past guest is suing Celebrity Cruises for an unusual injury sustained aboard Celebrity Edge earlier this year.

Cruise lines regularly get charged with personal injury lawsuits from slip-and-fall accidents and similar incidents, but one former guest is suing Celebrity Cruises for a rather unique injury – a champagne cork to the eye.

The guest filed suit in US District Court, Southern District of Florida this week, seeking $75,000 in compensation for damages from the injury.

Celebrity Cruises Sued for Champagne Cork

In a lawsuit filed in the US Federal District Court on Wednesday, December 20, 2023, Robert Marchetta is claiming “serious and permanent” injury from a champagne cork injury sustained while he was aboard Celebrity Edge in February 2023.

According to The Messenger News, the suit alleges negligence on the part of the cruise line and Marchetta is seeking a minimum of $75,000 for damages due to his injuries.

The incident is said to have taken place on February 2, when the 130,818-gross-ton Celebrity Edge was just finishing an 11-night Southern Caribbean itinerary roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, having visited ports such as Aruba and Curacao.

Marchetta claims a champagne cork exploded through a “wire cage” onboard, hitting his right eye and causing “pain, mental and emotional distress, and anguish therefrom; incurred medical expense and physical handicap and a loss of the ability to enjoy life,” according to the text of the lawsuit.

Celebrity Edge Cruise Ship
Celebrity Edge Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: Peter Titmuss)

The negligence on the part of Celebrity Cruises is said to be related to the reasonable care necessary to store champagne properly as well as to transport it safely to minimize the risk of accidents with decorking. Considering a champagne cork can pop out of a bottle at close to 30 miles per hour (48 kilometers per hour) depending on handling, that could indeed cause a grievous eye injury.

No further details about how the incident occurred are immediately available, and it is not known whether or not Marchetta sought medical care onboard Celebrity Edge at the time he was hit with the champagne cork. The circumstances of the incident – whether the bottle was being properly uncorked or mishandled, or who was uncorking the champagne – are also unclear.

Can Champagne Bottles Explode?

The image of a popping champagne cork followed by a fizzy spray is a common sight for celebrations, but champagne bottles do not typically “explode” unless there is a defect in the bottle or cork, or the champagne has been mishandled.

If champagne is subject to extreme temperatures, for example, it is more likely the bottle may rupture or the cork could pop out prematurely. Because champagne is a carbonated beverage, the pressure inside the bottle can be extreme, and if mistreated, the bottle could burst.

Popping Champagne Cork
Popping Champagne Cork (Photo Credit: by-studio)

Bottles of champagne should also be handled carefully and opened gently to minimize the risk of an explosive runaway cork. Marchetta’s lawsuit states that the cork exploded through a “wire cage,” but it is unknown what that could be referring to.

Lawsuits Against Cruise Lines

A wide variety of lawsuits are levied against cruise lines, often involving injuries or grievances related to onboard operations.

Just in the same week that Marchetta’s lawsuit was filed, 10 different personal injury lawsuits were filed against cruise lines in the Southern District of Florida – five against Celebrity Cruises by various plaintiffs, including Marchetta; one against Royal Caribbean International; and four against Carnival Corporation, which could be against any cruise lines in the Carnival family.

In late October, a Carnival guest sued over a finger injury caused a slamming balcony door. Other lawsuits often involve slip-and-fall incidents or similar injuries.

Occasionally, different lawsuits are filed, such as a trademark lawsuit filed against Carnival Cruise Line in June over naming rights to the pizzeria onboard Carnival Celebration.

Lawsuits about diversity, hiring practices, unlawful terminations, violations of maritime law, environmental regulations, and other topics are also common, depending on the complaint and where the lawsuit may be filed.

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