South Carolina court throws out lawsuit against Carnival

By Jerry Limone
The South Carolina Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit alleging that Carnival Cruise Lines' operations in Charleston violated the city’s nuisance ordinances.

The court ruled that such a lawsuit must be brought by property owners, not neighborhood associations.

In 2011, the Southern Environmental Law Center filed the lawsuit on behalf of four Charleston community groups against Carnival, seeking to "enforce local laws that protect the city's healthy environment and treasured historic assets."

The four community groups were the Historic Ansonborough Neighborhood Association, the Charlestowne Neighborhood Association, the Preservation Society of Charleston and the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League.

The court stated, "Lacking from these allegations is any claim that the plaintiffs themselves or their members have suffered from a particularized harm. … These allegations are simply complaints about inconveniences suffered broadly by all persons residing in or passing through the City of Charleston and therefore, plaintiffs fail to establish the first element of standing."

The South Carolina Ports Authority and the City of Charleston joined the lawsuit on Carnival's behalf in 2011.

"This was an unprecedented lawsuit brought against a global brand and customer of our port," said Jim Newsome, president and CEO of the South Carolina Ports Authority. "Given the public interest in this case, we are gratified that the State Supreme Court, in its original jurisdiction, affirms that Carnival has been operating responsibly and lawfully in Charleston at Union Pier Terminal."

The Southern Environmental Law Center said the ruling “did not address whether Carnival’s home basing operation complies with local ordinances, or whether it is a nuisance that interferes with the property rights of neighboring home owners, as the plaintiffs alleged. “

"We’re disappointed that after two years the court refused to pass on the legality of Carnival’s operation and instead dismissed the case on a legal technicality that the claims should have been brought by individual property owners rather than neighborhood associations and other groups,” said Blan Holman, the Southern Environmental Law Center attorney who represented the plaintiff groups in the lawsuit.

The Carnival Fantasy has sailed Caribbean cruises year-round from Charleston since 2010. The 2,052-passenger ship is Carnival’s oldest, having entered service in 1990.
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