On Jan. 2, Carnival issued a compliance order, giving ships two months to address the problem to "ensure a suitable spray shield ... is installed" for all diesel engines using the flexible fuel lines. "After that internal study, the company came out with a new policy to, again, shield all the flanges and the hoses," said Mark Jackson, Carnival Cruise Lines vice president of technical operations.
What went wrong on the 'poop' cruise?
But Carnival did not in fact shield the part of the one hose that wound up causing the fire on board the Triumph in February.
"That hose was beneath the deck plates, and it was believed the deck plates would provide that shield," Jackson said. "In this case, it (the fuel leak) found that gap in the hose ... in the bilge plates and caused the fire."
On Feb. 7 -- with a diesel generator still in need of overhaul and fuel line shields on some, but not all, of its flexible hoses -- Triumph set sail from Galveston, Texas. Three days later, off the coast of Mexico, a fire broke out in diesel generator No. 6 when fuel sprayed from a flexible fuel line, even though that fuel line was only 6 months old.
Speaking about the ship, Jackson said: "We were totally in compliance ... with all the rules and regulations. ... We had ... our regulating bodies on board the ship less than two weeks prior that had certified the ship to sail. Obviously, you learn things in a situation, in an incident such as the Triumph."
While Carnival Cruise Lines insists that what happened on the Triumph was just an accident, the company has dedicated $300 million in a fleetwide safety upgrade, focusing on detecting and preventing any potential fire hazards in its engine rooms.
Attorneys for both sides declined to speak about the case during the trial but their opening statements provide some clues about their respective strategies.
Asking for compensation of $1 million
In his opening statement, plaintiffs' attorney Frank Spagnoletti of Houston told the court, "There's documented evidence with regard to any number of plaintiffs that show that they were physically injured, and there is ample documented evidence that shows that all of the plaintiffs were injured mentally because of the way they were exposed to this."
When pressed for details on compensation, Spagnoletti told the court that passengers should receive anywhere from $30,000 to $1 million, depending on the severity of their injuries.
"What happened on the Triumph "is certainly not something that Carnival would ever want to have happen and would ever want its guests to experience," said Miami attorney Curtis Mase, representing Carnival. But he also told Judge Graham that many of the plaintiffs alleging various injuries have never sought medical treatment for their injuries and do not deserve compensation.
"I think that there's no one who I would suggest to you is entitled to receive more than $50,000, and I'm going to suggest probably lower numbers after we've heard all the evidence," Mase told the court.
"There are a number who I believe deserve nothing. And I will tell you this, the one or two that I can think of who have significant injuries, they're very much in the minority and there are only one or two."