On August 19, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit issued its latest decision on foreign forum selection clauses in cruise ship contracts. The case was Turner v. Costa Crociere S.P.A. The plaintiff was an American cruise ship passenger, Paul Turner, who brought a class action in federal district court in Florida alleging that the cruise line’s “negligence contributed to an outbreak of COVID-19 aboard the Costa Luminosa during his transatlantic voyage beginning on March 5, 2020.”
The cruise line moved to dismiss the case on the basis of a forum selection clause in the ticket mandating that all disputes be resolved by a court in Genoa, Italy. The contract also contained a choice-of-law clause selecting Italian law. By way of background, it is important to note that (1) the parent company for the cruise line was headquartered in Italy, (2) its operating subsidiary was headquartered in Florida, (3) the cruise was to begin in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and (4) the cruise was to terminate in the Canary Islands.