Florida Keys

Cruise passenger sues watersports company over alleged sexual assault

The Carnival Breeze is docked at PortMiami following the ship's arrival in Miami Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012.
The Carnival Breeze is docked at PortMiami following the ship's arrival in Miami Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012.

A South Florida woman who says she was sexually assaulted last year by a snorkel guide during her vacation on the Carnival Breeze cruise ship has sued a Key West-based watersports company that teams up with the cruise line to offer excursions, citing “vicarious liability.”

Key West Fury Inc., which has offices at 313 Margaret St. in Key West, shares the blame for the alleged assault because it does business as Fury De Mexico S.A. De C.V. and Caribbean Fury, which employed the crew member who allegedly lured Genisis Ordonez away from the group of snorkelers Sept. 24, 2015, under the pretense he was taking her to a better spot, the lawsuit states.

Ordonez names Christian Sanchez as the snorkel guide she says sexually assaulted her and has sent a summons to the Fury’s Key West address, but no further details of the alleged assault or of Sanchez are in the suit.

“He sexually assaulted, battered and digitally penetrated her,” alleges the suit, filed Sept. 9 in U.S. District Court in Miami.

Ordonez suffered “great shame,” humiliation and “psychological scarring,” along with pain and suffering and medical expenses, her attorneys say in a claim seeking at least $75,000. It must be filed in federal court as directed by a clause included in Carnival’s ticket, the suit states.

Ordonez is suing Carnival, Fury De Mexico S.A. DE C.V., Fury Catamarans, Caribbean Fury, Fury Management, Fury Atlantic Corporation, Key West Fury, Fury Corporation and Sanchez. All seven Fury-named companies are listed under the same Margaret Street address, according to the lawsuit.

“They operate the excursion company from Key West, that's their corporate headquarters, as we understand things,” attorney Spencer Aronfeld of Coral Gables said in an email Tuesday. “The incident occurred in Mexico. But as a U.S.-based business, a Florida-based business, there is jurisdiction over them here.”

Carnival urges passengers not to deal with other watersports companies and recommends Fury trips as among the “best local providers” they hand select, Ordonez says, but they failed in hiring Sanchez and should have known he “was a danger to female passengers.”

Gwen Filosa: @KeyWestGwen