EARL e-News: South Carolina Supreme Court Dismisses Lawsuit Against Carnival Cruise Lines - Updates on Environmental, Administrative and Regulatory Law


On January 22, 2014, the South Carolina Supreme Court granted Carnival Corporation d/b/a Carnival Cruise Lines’ motion to dismiss the lawsuit brought by several citizen groups in Charleston, South Carolina.  The Court held the citizen groups lacked standing to assert their nuisance and zoning claims related to the cruise ship Fantasy’s operation at the Union Pier Terminal near Charleston’s Old and Historic District.

To possess standing, the citizens groups needed to satisfy three elements, one of which is the citizen groups must have suffered an injury-in-fact which is a “concrete, particularized, and actual or imminent invasion of a legally protected interest.”  The Court concluded the citizen groups failed to allege a concrete, particularized harm to a legally protected interest and therefore lacked standing.

Instead of any particularized harm, the citizens groups alleged only generalized grievances which could be made by the public as a whole since the Fantasy began operating at the Terminal in 2010.  Allegations of increased crowds caused by passengers and crew; noise pollution caused by broadcast announcements and music; street closures caused by embarkation and debarkation; visual disruption of Charleston’s historic skyline; and pollution by soot and other contaminants, among other allegations, were not particularized injuries either to the citizen groups or their members.

The Court reasoned all members of the public suffer from and are inconvenienced by traffic congestion, pollution emissions, road closures, large crowds, loud noises, and obstructed views.  The citizen groups did not allege they suffered any harms in any personal, individual way.

Since the Court held the citizen groups lacked standing which is a fundamental prerequisite for instituting a legal action, the Court did not consider the remaining legal issues raised in the citizen group’s lawsuit.


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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