Where was the cruise industry's coronavirus response? Passengers who sailed aboard the ships ravaged by the outbreak want answers and compensation for damages.
However, taking a cruise line to court is more complicated than taking most U.S.-based companies to court because, with the sale of each cruise, cruise lines impose a ticket-passenger contract, limiting where and how a passenger can sue. Some violations that occur on international waters are also governed by complex and longstanding maritime laws.
Also, nearly all legal cases exclude emotional or psychological damage, being limited to losses related to physical injuries. Since Congress virtually never interferes with the cruise industry, our role of advocates for those injured on cruise ships is to overcome legal hurdles. In general, the way to do that is to reach beyond the trial judges to the appellate courts. In the current context, judges overseeing coronavirus cases may set new legal precedents that would benefit all cruise line passengers.
Lawsuits from Cruise Ship Passengers
Coronavirus-related legal disputes are already widespread. Cruise lines - such as Carnival Cruises, Royal Caribbean, MSC Cruises, Disney Cruises - that put profits ahead of the safety of their customers during the first months of 2020 are facing lawsuits filed by their passengers.
Carnival Corporation, whose portfolio of global cruise line brands includes Princess Cruises, Carnival Cruises, Costa Cruises, and others, has been named as a defendant in lawsuits filed by different individuals. These stem from COVID-19 outbreaks on cruise ships that kept sailing after the rapid spread of the virus around the world had begun. Currently, Carnival has paused all North American and Australian operations and said it will cancel all Spirit Alaskan cruises from Seattle. Thus far, coronavirus lawsuits have been filed by:
- At least 75 passengers who had sailed aboard one of the three Princess Cruises ships - owned by Carnival Corp. - ravaged by the outbreak: Grand Princess, Ruby Princess, and Coral Princess
- At least 98 passengers have sued Costa Cruise Lines Inc., a brand also owned by Carnival Corp.
- Lawsuits have also been filed against Norwegian Cruise Line and Holland America; the latter is also a member of the Carnival family
- Several California passengers sued Carnival Corp. in federal court in San Francisco
The passengers' claims are personal and specific, alegging:
- Cruise lines were being negligent in not modifying their cancellation policies to allow passengers to cancel their ocean cruises
- Passengers suffered emotional distress
- Cruise lines potentially exposed passengers to the disease, which can be fatal
- Cruise lines failed to notify passengers of the high risk of being infected with the novel coronavirus on the company's cruise ships
- Cruise lines were negligent in their response to the outbreak and tested only a small number of passengers
- Passengers suffered the loss of civil liberties
- Passengers contracted the coronavirus on a cruise
- Cruise lines should have canceled their trips considering the virus had already spread on a previous voyage of the Diamond Princess ship
- The crew didn't ask passengers to isolate themselves in their staterooms after several passengers already fell ill and were taken off the ship for treatment
- Families had a loved one die from the virus
Representing Ship Passengers and Crew Members
While coronavirus is a natural disaster that no one could have accurately predicted, the way companies have responded when the danger was apparent, can be seen as if not outright negligent, extremely unwise.
The cruise industry's decision to keep sailing contributed to the spread of coronavirus and directly resulted in many passengers being exposed to this deadly virus. As such, it is no surprise that many passengers are filing lawsuits. If you have been affected by COVID-19 while being on a cruise ship contact The Law Offices of Sean M. Cleary for a free case review. We are a plaintiffs' law firm that is based in Miami but serves clients throughout Florida.