On July 17, 1999, Plaintiff Jane Doe, as a passenger on the cruise ship M/V ZENITH, embarked on a one-week round-trip cruise from New York City to Bermuda. During the cruise, Doe reported to the cruise line's medical staff that Baris Aydin, a crew member and Doe's dinner waiter, raped her. The medical staff treated Doe, and the cruise line flew her home from Bermuda on July 21, 1999.
As a crew member of the M/V ZENITH, Aydin owed a duty to protect and care for the plaintiff's safety. He, instead, deliberately, knowingly and intentionally breached this duty by sexually assaulting, raping and/or battering the plaintiff. On July 14, 2000, Doe filed a nine-count complaint against defendants Celebrity Cruises, Inc., Zenith Shipping Corporation, Apollo Ship Chandlers, and against the M/V ZENITH.
In July of 1999, Baris Aydin lived aboard the cruise ship M/V ZENITH, and worked as a ship waiter 16 hours a day, seven days a week. Aydin worked breakfast, lunch, dinner and the midnight buffet, and served the same set of passengers at dinner every night for the duration of their cruise.
The defendants mainly utilized a "tipping system" for paying Aydin and apparently other similarly-situated crew members. Passengers were assigned to the same dinner table and waiter each night. The guests whom Aydin served at his tables left money in envelopes or gave it to him personally. He made $800-$1,000 per week in tips.
Plaintiff Doe purchased a ticket for a round-trip cruise from New York to Bermuda aboard the M/V ZENITH. Doe and five of her friends, all in their early twenties, went on the cruise with four parents. Their group was assigned to a table in the dining area where Aydin waited on them at dinner each night.
On the third morning of the cruise, the M/V ZENITH arrived in Hamilton, Bermuda, a scheduled port-of-call. At dinner, one of Doe's friends asked Aydin "if he knew of any good places to go out on the island because the crew had been there before." Aydin suggested that they go to the Oasis disco club, which they did. Aydin's suggestion was not surprising because when the M/V ZENITH was in port at Hamilton, Bermuda, it was customary for the crew and passengers to mingle off the ship at the Oasis. Indeed, the Oasis is a short, five-to-ten-minute walk from the ship, and the ship is clearly visible from the club. While the Oasis closes after 3:00 a.m., Aydin testified that normally crew and passengers stay outside for awhile after closing time. "There are lots of people who sit down around and chat and have fun.... This is what usually the people do after the club closes, they stay there and they sit down. They hang out, talk. They chat." The ship's chief security officer testified that "it would be unusual not to see any passenger or crew" on Front Street near the cruise terminal or the front of the Oasis at 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning.
When Doe's group arrived at the Oasis, they found several M/V ZENITH crew members there, including Aydin whom they recognized as their waiter. The six women and three male crew members, including Aydin, "pretty much hung out together ... basically having a good time, dancing and drinking."
The Oasis closed sometime after 3:00 a.m. Doe's group of women and the three crew members went outside. Two women decided to return to the ship, and Aydin escorted them on the short walk back to the ship. Aydin then returned to the group outside the Oasis and discovered Doe lying on the ground in need of assistance.6 Aydin offered to help her find a bathroom, and they attempted to go back to the Oasis, but found it closed. They then walked back down Front Street in the direction of the ship.
Doe thought she was going back to the ship and did not feel any concern on the walk "[b]ecause I trusted him. He was a crew member and I know [sic] he was going to take me somewhere to use the bathroom to throw up." Doe further testified that "the only reason [she was] willing to even go for a block and a half or two block walk with [Aydin] was because he worked on the ship."
Aydin and Doe walked past the ship to a small public park. The ship is clearly visible throughout the walk, and one need only take "four or five steps out of the park, stand on Queen Street and the ship [is] right there looking at you." The jury found that in the park Aydin committed sexual battery against Doe, which the court had charged as sexual penetration without her consent. According to Doe, Aydin pushed her to the ground, bit her lip, and shoved his fingers in her mouth to keep her quiet. Doe cried and indicated repeatedly that she wanted him to stop.
After the sexual encounter, Aydin and Doe walked straight to the ship and split up, with Aydin walking ahead of her on the gangway. Doe went to her room. Doe's friends found her there, distraught, and took her to the infirmary. Doe reported to the nurse "that I went out with some friends, and that I was just raped by one of the crew-members." The ship's doctor administered a rape kit, and Doe filed a report with the ship's security personnel.
Based on Aydin's rape of Doe, the complaint alleged one count each of sexual assault, sexual battery, and negligence, two counts of breach of the contract of carriage, two counts of intentional infliction of emotional distress, and two counts of negligent infliction of emotional distress.
The judge in the trial told the jury they could only award the victim compensation IF they found she had been sexually assaulted, pentrated by Aydin without her consent.
On November 22, 2002, the jury returned a verdict for Doe on her sexual battery claim, awarded her $1 million in compensatory damages, and allocated fault equally among the four defendants. The jury returned a verdict for the defendants on Doe's sexual assault claim.