By T. D. Thornton
Nearly one year after his wife fell overboard from a cruise ship and was declared missing at sea and presumed dead by the United States Coast Guard, Thoroughbred trainer Karl M. Broberg has filed a federal lawsuit alleging negligence by Carnival Cruise Lines, demanding a jury trial to award unspecified damages to surviving family members, including two children and two step-children.
In a 27-page complaint filed Apr. 25 in United States District Court (Southern District of Florida), Broberg, 46, who is currently the nation's second-leading trainer in terms of wins for 2017, gives the first public account of his wife's fatal accident since Samantha Joyce Broberg was reported to have plunged backwards over a tenth-deck railing from the Carnival Liberty at 2:04 a.m. May 13, 2016.
According to the lawsuit, Samantha, 33, boarded the Liberty with two traveling companions for a four-day “girls weekend” trip from Galveston, Texas, to Cozumel, Mexico, last May 12. Shortly after boarding, they began drinking at various on-ship bars. The suit alleges that over the course of the next 12 hours, Carnival employees “excessively served alcoholic beverages” to Samantha despite the fact that she appeared “visibly and highly inebriated” and was later described by other passengers as “nodding off to sleep” at about the time she was served her final drink.
Shortly before 2:00 a.m., Mrs. Broberg proceeded to make her way from a Promenade Bar on Deck 5 to Deck 10,” the lawsuit explains. “As Mrs. Broberg approached the ship's outer rail, in her inebriated state, she unceremoniously stepped on one of the many ship's lounge chairs, neatly lined up near the ship's outer deck rail, turned her back to the water, momentarily sat on the rail, and within a split second, fell backwards, head over heels, into the Gulf of Mexico.”
The lawsuit contends that even though the ship was outfitted with numerous security cameras showing her ascent to the upper deck and that a thermal-imaging system captured video footage of her actual fall, those recording devices did not make use of a readily available alarm system that could have alerted crew members to the incident as it happened.
Instead, the suit alleges, the Liberty steamed onward, and it was not until Samantha's friends reported her missing long after sunrise that a search started. By the time footage of her fall was reviewed and the ship's captain alerted the Coast Guard, 15 hours had elapsed.
In addition to the cluster of allegations that include failing to initiate a rescue in a timely manner, the over-serving of alcohol, the dangerous placement of deck furniture, the failure of Carnival to adhere to its own policies about escorting intoxicated guests to their cabins, and not stationing an upper-decks watchperson as a precaution when the ship's bars close, Karl Broberg also contends in the suit that Carnival officials didn't communicate with him properly once they learned of Samantha's disappearance.
“Instead of contacting Plaintiff to inform him of his wife's fall overboard, Defendant Carnival acted with reckless indifference by communicating first with the media concerning Mrs. Broberg's disappearance and fall overboard, without prior notification to Plaintiff,” the suit alleges. “As a direct result of the outrageous nature of Defendant's conduct, Plaintiff has suffered severe emotional distress and anguish, entitling him to compensatory and punitive damages.”
Karl Broberg operates a Texas-based public training stable that currently campaigns divisions at Lone Star Park, Prairie Meadows, Evangeline Downs, Belterra Park, and Will Rogers Downs.