S.C. Supreme Court throws out cruise lawsuit

By Liz Segrist
lsegrist@scbiznews.com
Published Jan. 22, 2014

The state Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit alleging that Carnival Cruise Lines’ operations in downtown Charleston were a nuisance to residents, according to a court opinion (.pdf) published today.

The Historic Ansonborough Neighborhood Association, Charlestowne Neighborhood Association, the Coastal Conservation League and the Preservation Society of Charleston filed a complaint in 2012 alleging that the cruise ships violated the city’s noise, pollution, sign and public nuisance ordinances.

A Carnival Cruise ship is docked along Charleston Harbor. (File photo)
A Carnival Cruise ship is docked along Charleston Harbor.
(File photo)

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“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,” according to the opinion.

The court opinion said the plaintiff’s lack of standing did not provide the fundamental prerequisites required for the court to consider other issues. It granted the defendants’ request for dismissal.

Carnival Corp., S.C. State Ports Authority and the city of Charleston were defendants in the case. The ports authority and the city joined the lawsuit on Carnival’s behalf in mid-2011, the ports authority said in a statement.

“This was an unprecedented lawsuit brought against a global brand and customer of our port,” S.C. Ports Authority President and CEO Jim Newsome said in a statement. “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.”

Newsome said the ports authority, along with the city, plan to welcome more cruise ships to the port, as well as renew long-term contract discussions with Carnival that were put on hold during the lawsuit, according to a statement.

The ports authority plans to move ahead with its state permit and work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Charleston District to relocate its existing cruise terminal near Market Street to an existing structure at the north end of Union Pier Terminal.

Carnival began bringing cruise ships to the ports authority’s Union Pier Terminal in May 2010. In 2013, Union Pier hosted 88 cruise ships that carried 188,082 passengers. Current plans call for 88 cruise ships to visit Charleston this year.

Reach Liz Segrist at 843-849-3119 or @lizsegrist on Twitter.

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