High Court reporters
A solicitor who claims she was falsely imprisoned while on board a cruise ship in 2015 has denied she intended for a suicide comment to be taken seriously.
Sections of emails sent between Caroline Fanning (49) and booking agent Trailfinders Ireland Limited in and around the time she and her 13-year-old daughter were disembarked from Royal Caribbean's ‘Oasis of the Seas’ were read to a High Court jury on Friday.
David Conlan-Smyth SC, representing defendant Trailfinders and third party RCL Cruises Limited, asked Ms Fanning to explain why she wrote in an email explaining the events to Trailfinders that someone had previously told her about a person who had complained to a phone company, mentioned suicide and got their issue resolved.
Ms Fanning said she had recalled someone who worked for the phone company who said a person who was complaining about a bill mentioned suicide and there was a resolution.
However, Ms Fanning was being “sarcastic” when she referenced suicide to a Royal Caribbean receptionist in the early hours of August 9th, 2015, when complaining about the motion of her room and its effect on her sea sickness, she said.
Previously, Ms Fanning, of Foxrock Avenue, Dublin, said the receptionist said there were no other balcony rooms free that night and someone could only be moved in a medical emergency.
Ms Fanning said she understood the receptionist to be sarcastic, so she responded sarcastically by saying: “there may be one tomorrow” and “there may be a suicide”.
The ship’s suicide prevention protocol was triggered, and security personnel arrived at Ms Fanning’s cabin. She had to undergo an assessment with a psychiatrist, who, she said, recommended lifting the protocol.
Later, she was informed the captain was disembarking her and her 13-year-old daughter, she said. They were permitted to use a computer on board to book alternative accommodation, the court heard.
On Thursday, Mr Conlan-Smyth put as a proposition to Ms Fanning that she intended for her comments to be “understood at face value”. Ms Fanning said that was not the case.
Asked why she mentioned the Vodafone story to Trailfinders in an email sent shortly after the onboard events, Ms Fanning said she was trying to “contextualise” as to why she used the word suicide.
“I have never made a threat of suicide in my whole life. That [comment] was pure sarcasm,” she added.
She and her daughter were brought to a room on a lower deck in the early hours of August 9th, she told the court previously. Cutlery and hangers were removed from the room and a female security guard was stationed outside, she said.
At about breakfast time they were twice brought to and from the ship’s medical centre in view of “hundreds” of other staring passengers, she added. She said she never received a refund for the €3,700 cruise holiday or the €640 for the last-minute alternative accommodation, despite requests.
The court heard Ms Fanning complained to Trailfinders saying she felt she had been in “Guantanamo Bay not on a luxurious cruise”.
Ms Fanning is seeking damages for false imprisonment, assault and battery, defamation and breach of duty and contract. The court heard the claim for assault and battery relates to a security guard placing a hand on her.
The claims are denied, and a full defence has been lodged.
Cross-examination of Ms Fanning will continue on Tuesday.