A comic who has performed in the Southland and on board passenger ships is suing Norwegian Cruise Lines Ltd., alleging he was falsely accused of being a drug smuggler by the employees of a vessel in 2017 and temporarily prevented from leaving.

Lou Santini filed the lawsuit Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging false imprisonment, invasion of privacy, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The complaint seeks unspecified damages.

An NCL representative could not be immediately reached.

The suit states that when Santini boarded an NCL ship in June 2017 for a series of performances, he disclosed that he took a prescription drug, Tramadol, for back pain during long flights. He found his living quarters to be unkempt and smelly, so the staff accommodated his request to change to another cabin, the suit states.

Upon being relocated, however, the employees accused Santini of bringing an “illegal narcotic” aboard the ship and searched his cabin, according to the lawsuit. He also was given two pat-down searches, the suit states.

The workers said that during their probe of Santini’s second cabin, they found “marijuana tablets” in a safe in the room, the suit states. Santini denied the tablets were his and believes the workers “either planted the marijuana tablets in the safe in order to justify their harassment of the plaintiff or failed to clean the prior guest’s cabin adequately,” according to the lawsuit.

The employees ignored “open and obvious drug use by others on the ship” and at least once forbade Santini from leaving the ship, the suit states.

“On another occasion, NCL employees angrily demanded that he sign documents confessing to being a drug smuggler,” the suit states. They also tried to take his phone away and steal some of his other property, the suit alleges.

The employees also refused to give Santini his passport when he was allowed to leave the ship, telling a taxi driver not to give it to the comic until they had reached the airport, the suit states.

Santini has suffered emotional distress and also lost revenue from booking dates in November and December that NCL cancelled, the suit states. He also has lost all future work he could have obtained from other cruise lines, the suit alleges.

Santini, whose real name is Glenn DeMaro, has won the Detroit and San Diego Comedy Festivals and was tapped as Best of the Fest at the 2016 and 2017 Burbank Comedy Festivals. His television hosting and comedy has been seen on the Reelz Channel and Pop TV.

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