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Heinen v. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.

United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

March 30, 2020, Decided

No. 19-13750 Non-Argument Calendar

Opinion

PER CURIAM:

This is a negligence case. The appellants bought a cruise from the appellee Royal Caribbean Cruises LTD. The cruise was set to sail from Galveston, Texas in August of 2017. Hurricane Harvey had other plans, though. The superstorm struck Galveston around that time, forcing Royal Caribbean to cancel the cruise.

The appellants [*2]  allege here that Royal Caribbean didn't act quickly enough. They claim that the cruise line delayed cancellation until the day the cruise was set to embark. This delay purportedly caused them to travel to Galveston and weather hurricane-force conditions. So they sued Royal Caribbean in the Southern District of Florida, alleging counts of negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

But the appellants' first complaint had a problem: It failed to identify the individual harms the appellants suffered due to Royal Caribbean's purported negligence. The district court highlighted this deficiency for the appellants and grant them leave to amend. The appellants promised that they would provide specific allegations of harm in their amendment. But the district court held that their second attempt proved no better: Though the amended complaint added that each appellant suffered "physical and emotional damage," it still failed to specify their individual physical and emotional injuries. Rather, in shotgun fashion, the appellants ticked off a laundry list of injuries at the end of their complaint, without specifying who suffered what. The court held that these allegations failed to [*3]  state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). It dismissed the action with prejudice. This is the appellants' appeal.

] We review de novo the district court's grant of a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. ADA v. Cigna Corp., 605 F.3d 1283, 1288 (11th Cir. 2010). ] To state a claim, a complaint must allege enough facts to make the claim not merely possible, but plausible. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 173 L. Ed. 2d 868 (2009). We accept the factual allegations in the complaint as true and construe them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Id. But we need not accept as true "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements." Id. Finally, ] to prove a negligence or negligent-infliction-of-emotional-distress claim, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant's actions caused the plaintiff to suffer actual harm. See Chaparro v. Carnival Corp., 693 F.3d 1333, 1336-38 (11th Cir. 2012) (per curiam).1 A negligent-infliction-of-emotional-distress claim also requires an allegation of "mental or emotional harm . . . that is caused by the negligence of another and that is not directly brought about by a physical injury, but that may manifest itself in physical symptoms." Id. at 1337-38.

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2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 9754 *

THOMAS HEINEN, ANGELINA KUNZ, DAVID KUNZ, JACOB KUNZ, EDNA NICKERSON, GRACE KUNZ, MIRANDA DELANEY, BRANDEN DELANEY, PENNY BUCKNER, RYAN ENG, JOANN RUIZ, ALEJANDRO HERNANDEZ, SAVANNA VALDEZ, CLAYTON MCDONALD, JOSH RUSSELL, BETTY JOHNSON, MICHAEL JOHNSON, TAYLOR JOHNSON, MARIAH JOHNSON, Plaintiffs-Appellants, versus ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISES LTD., Defendant-Appellee.

Notice: PLEASE REFER TO FEDERAL RULES OF APPELLATE PROCEDURE RULE 32.1 GOVERNING THE CITATION TO UNPUBLISHED OPINIONS.

Prior History:  [*1] Appeals from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. D.C. Docket No. 1:18-cv-23395-FAM.

Heinen v. Royal Caribbean Cruises, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 146576 (S.D. Fla., Aug. 28, 2019)

CORE TERMS

allegations, appellants', cruise, emotional harm, out-of-pocket, expenses, fail to state a claim, emotional damage, financial injury, district court, negligent-infliction-of-emotional-distress, threadbare, negligent infliction of emotional distress, failure to state a claim, factual allegations, motion to dismiss, physical handicap, emotional injury, fail to identify, factual support, fail to specify, physical injury, economic loss, per curiam, economic-loss, conditions, disfigured, aggravate, maritime, damages

Civil Procedure, Appeals, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Defenses, Demurrers & Objections, Motions to Dismiss, Failure to State Claim, Pleadings, Complaints, Requirements for Complaint, Evidence, Burdens of Proof, Allocation, Torts, Types of Negligence Actions, Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress, Elements, Admiralty & Maritime Law, Maritime Personal Injuries, Maritime Tort Actions, Compensatory Damages, Types of Losses, Economic Losses, Negligence, Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress