Cruise giant Royal Caribbean faced a legal setback on a case about an under-aged girl’s gang rape in one of its ships in 2015. 

On Wednesday, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Florida reversed a lower court's decision that exonerated the Miami-based cruise liner.

The court while allowing the lawsuit to proceed against the cruise company indicted it for claiming ignorance of the sexual assaults happening on cruise ships and not protecting the teenage victim.

The court ruled that the cruise line failed in its responsibility in providing “duty of care” to the girl passenger.

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals said the cruise company bungled in ensuring the girl's safety despite knowing that sexual assaults are rampant on cruise ships.

The court asked the cruise liner to answer allegations of negligence that led to the underage girl being “plied with alcohol and gang-raped” on one of its ships.

Court calls cruise liner’s excuses ridiculous

The court noted that the plaintiff was able to establish that the cruise line “breached its duty of care” and caused her trauma and injuries. The judges called the company’s excuses as ridiculous.

After directing to reinstate the suit, the court said in writing the following.

“In sum, the complaint has sufficiently alleged that because Royal Caribbean’s crew members did nothing to prevent the large group of men from plying K.T. with enough alcohol to incapacitate her and did nothing to stop those men from leading her away to a private cabin. ... But for Royal Caribbean’s breach of its duties of care to K.T., she would not have been brutalized and gang-raped.”

The teenage girl’s trauma in the ship

The victim KT was 15 years old when the gang rape happened in the cruise ship Oasis of the Seas in 2015.

The victim along with her two sisters and grandparents boarded the ship for a seven-day cruise on December 26.

According to K.T., she was sitting at the ship’s bar when a group of men surrounded her and offered her alcohol until she became “highly intoxicated, obviously drunk, disoriented, and unstable” and “obviously incapacitated.”

They then lured her into a cabin “where they brutally assaulted and gang-raped her.”

The traumatized victim sued the Royal Caribbean in December 2016.

Appeal wins

But K.T. appealed the lower court’s ruling.

In her lawsuit, KT alleged that the night when she was assaulted, multiple crew members watched a group of men besieging her and forcing drinks on her.  The lawsuit said it should have been obvious to crew members that the gang was buying “alcohol for a child.”

In its reaction, a spokesman for Royal Caribbean said it would not comment on the pending litigation. It said the allegation will be taken seriously as “safety and security of our guests is a top priority."

As of April this year, 220 cases of sexual assaults on cruises had been reported to the U.S. Department of Transportation, per data since 2016.