Lawsuit: Family ‘Watched in Horror’ While Marble Man Died on Carnival Cruise Ship

| June 15, 2019

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MIAMI, Fla. (EYT) – A federal lawsuit filed by the family of a Clarion County man who died of a heart attack on a Carnival cruise ship in December 2018 alleges that crew members prevented him from leaving the ship despite “inadequate medical facilities.”

Jeffrey Eisenman, 65, of Marble, died December 4, 2018, onboard the Carnival Sunshine during a family vacation with his wife Linda and two adult children, Julie and Ryan.

In the lawsuit filed June 11 in U.S District Court in Miami, the family accuses the ship’s crew of “negligence and infliction of intentional emotional distress.”

“Jeffrey Eisenman died onboard while confined to the medical center of the Carnival Sunshine against his will,” the lawsuit alleges. “His family was forced to watch on in horror at his mistreatment and decline into a gruesome death.”

On December 1, 2018, Jeffrey Eisenman, a heavy equipment operator at Scrubgrass Generating in Kennerdell for over 20 years, boarded the Carnival Sunshine with his family in Port Canaveral, Fla. for a cruise to the Caribbean and back.

Two days later, while the vessel was docked in Grand Turk Island, around 1:00 p.m., Jeffrey Eisenman became severely ill.

Linda Eisenman phoned 9-1-1 on the vessel and a nurse instructed her to bring her husband to the medical facility of the ship. Linda Eisenman informed the nurse that her husband was unable to walk and a Carnival nurse came to his stateroom with a wheelchair to transport him to the facility.

At approximately 2:00 p.m., the ship’s doctor examined Jeffrey Eisenman and quickly diagnosed him as having suffered a major heart attack. The doctor informed Linda Eisenman that her husband would possibly need a stent implanted in his heart.

“It was apparent that Mr. Eisenman needed an immediate medical evacuation off the vessel to an appropriate facility,” the lawsuit states.

The ship’s doctor informed the family that Jeffrey Eisenman needed to be flown to Miami because Grand Turk Hospital was not equipped with a cardiac unit.

“He left the Eisenman’s with the impression that Mr. Eisenman would be expeditiously taken off the ship in Grand Turk to be flown to Miami from Grand Turk, as soon as possible,” the lawsuit says. “The vessel was scheduled to depart from Grand Turk at around 4:00 p.m.”

According to the lawsuit, just before 4:00 p.m., with the vessel still sitting in dock in Grand Turk, the ship’s physician came into the medical center and said that Jeffrey Eisenman could not get off the ship because someone else had to be medically disembarked first. Instead of evacuating Jeffrey Eiseman to receive the care and treatment he urgently needed, the Captain ordered the ship to set sail for San Juan, Puerto Rico – a 21-hour journey by sea farther away from the United States. At that time Jeffrey Eisenman was awake, according to the lawsuit.

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The family says they “begged and pleaded” to get off the boat, but the ship departed for Puerto Rico per the captain’s order.

“He and his family implored the medical staff of the Carnival Sunshine to help him get off the vessel while it was docked in Grand Turk,” the lawsuit alleges. “His family protested the unreasonable delay, begging and pleading Carnival personnel to get him off the ship.

“Carnival’s physician had told them that time was of the essence, and they knew the ship’s medical center was unequipped to handle a major emergency. The only reasonable option was to get Jeffrey Eisenman off the ship while it was docked safely in Grand Turk or assure his death. Despite their many cries for help, Carnival utterly failed the Eisenman family and disregarded the life of a critically ill human being.

“Adding to the cruel disregard for Jeffrey Eisenman’s medical situation, Carnival was aware that the Eisenman family had purchased insurance that would cover an air evacuation in the event of a medical emergency. The Eisenmans repeatedly demanded that Jeffrey be removed from the vessel before it left Grand Turk- they were in shock and utter disbelief at Carnival’s outrageous and indifferent conduct. They explained that they had purchased insurance for an air ambulance to come and rescue Jeffrey and take him to appropriate medical care in the United States.”

Once at sea on the way to Puerto Rico, Jeffrey Eisenman – a diabetic – continued to develop complications.

While confined to the ship’s medical center, his blood sugar elevated drastically. The ship’s physician was unable to control his blood sugar due to the limitations of the ship’s infirmary and medical supply, according to the lawsuit.

He lost consciousness and his condition continued to worse as each hour passed, the lawsuit says. Eventually, he began to experience respiratory issues and was unable to breath properly. The medical crew administered oxygen to Jeffrey Eisenman, but his condition continued to deteriorate.

“His family watched on in agony as he slowly slipped away,” the lawsuit states.

According to the lawsuit, around 3:30 a.m. December 4, 2018, Jeffrey Eisenman’s condition continued to deteriorate. He had serious trouble breathing, so the ship physician decided to intubate him. After intubation – almost 12 hours after the Sunshine had left the port of Grand Turk – he went into cardiac arrest and ship physicians performed CPR on him.

The medical crew asked the family if they wished for resuscitation efforts to continue, informing them there was “no realistic hope for recovery.”

“Jeffrey Eisenman died onboard while confined to the medical center of the Carnival Sunshine against his will. His family was forced to watch on in horror at his mistreatment and decline into a gruesome death,” the lawsuit states.

The vessel arrived in Puerto Rico with Jeffrey Eisenman’s body onboard.

Carnival personnel informed the family that due to the condition of Puerto Rico following recent hurricanes, they could not guarantee that Jeffrey’s body would get to the continental United States if he was removed, according to the lawsuit.

In a state of devastation and distress, Linda Eisenman and Julie Eisenman left the vessel in Puerto Rico.

“They had suffered extreme emotional distress at being confined on the vessel against their will following the onset of Jeffrey Eisenman’s medical emergency,” the lawsuit states.

Out of concern for his father’s body, Ryan Eisenman stayed on the vessel until it returned to the United States.

“He suffered extreme emotional distress as a result of the outrageous ordeal, and additionally by being forced to wait on the vessel with his father’s corpse lying dead in the morgue,” the lawsuit continues.

“Despite their many cries for help, Carnival utterly failed the Eisenman family and disregarded the life of a critically ill human being,” the family said in the lawsuit.

Carnival denied the allegations in a statement issued to NBC News on Thursday.

“We are very sorry for the Eisenman family’s loss, but the scenario that is alleged in the lawsuit is not accurate,” the statement said. “Our onboard medical team followed all proper procedures to attend to a guest who became critically ill very quickly, including liaising with the local hospital which was not equipped to handle his condition. Mr. Eisenman’s treatment plan and keeping him on the ship was formulated in consultation with his family.”

The Eisenman family is seeking recoverable damages for loss of support, loss of inheritance, funeral expenses, court costs, interest, and any other relief deemed appropriate by the court.


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