Passengers File Class-Action Lawsuit Against Cruise Operator for COVID-19 Outbreak

Cruise ships have become an epicenter for the COVID-19 outbreak. Caught in close quarters with others as the virus was spreading, numerous passengers became ill and many eventually died. The passengers were trapped on these ships for an extended period of time as they were not allowed to discharge their passengers due to the threat that they could spread the virus to people on land. The result was a harrowing experience for many passengers who were left on the ship without the proper medical care as many took ill. Now, some of these passengers are suing the cruise ship operator, claiming that they knew that these ships would become floating death traps.

The plaintiffs' lawsuit argues that Costa Cruises mishandled the outbreak of COVID-19 on its ship. The specific cruise eft Florida on May 5, and was scheduled for a 20-day voyage heading to Italy. The lawsuit claims that the passengers did not know that a passenger from a previous voyage showed symptoms of the virus. By the time that the ship made its first stop in France, 36 passengers on the boat contracted coronavirus.

The Lawsuit Claims that the Operator Knew of the Danger and Kept it From Passengers

The lawsuit argues that the cruise operator knew that there was a possibility that passengers on the next voyage could have been sickened. By the time the cruise left Florida, much was known about the nature of COVID-19, especially the fact that it was highly contagious. However, according to the plaintiffs, the cruise operator made a conscious decision to move forward and not cancel the cruise in an example of putting profits over the health and well-being of passengers. At the time that Costa Cruises elected to move forward with the cruise, the entire industry had already seen from the Diamond Princess the devastating effects that the virus could have on passengers in a confined space. In that case, over 700 passengers ultimately tested positive for COVID-19.

The specific fact that forms the basis for the lawsuit was the fact that on the previous voyage of this boat, a passenger was removed from the ship with signs of COVID-19. This occurred on February 29, long after news of this dangerous virus became well-known among the general public.

The Company Informed Customers There Would Be No Refunds

Before the boat left Florida, Contra Cruises sent an email to the passengers of the ship and promised them that the company would take measures to protect their safety. The company promised that safety was their top priority.

After the ship returned from its previous voyage and the passengers disembarked, the cruise line turned the boat around with a new group of passengers the very same day. The lawsuit claims that the company did not take adequate time to clean and sanitize the boat after it knew that a prior passenger had symptoms of the virus. The plaintiffs further claim that numerous passengers contacted the company to express their concerns and were assured that the boat was safe and was not impacted by COVID-19. At the same time, the company is alleged to have told customers that they would not receive a refund if they cancelled their trip.

Further, Contra Cruises is alleged to have disregarded CDC guidance and allowed passengers to board the ship who may have showed signs of being sick. The cruise operator purportedly had non-medical professionals making determinations as to who could board the ship and did not check to see if passengers had recently travelled to China.

After the ship left port, passengers began to show signs of illness. The first stop was Puerto Rico and two passengers left the ship with symptoms of the virus. The lawsuit claims that passengers were not informed of this fact by the ship's staff. After the ship had begun its journey, the CDC changed its guidance to recommend that Americans not travel anywhere by cruise ship. Nevertheless, the Contra Costa boat continued its journey to France.

The lawsuit claims that the passengers were kept unaware of the situation on the boat as well as the CDC guidance at the time that the boat had docked in Puerto Rico. Passengers would have disembarked from the boat had they known the true situation. Instead, scores of passengers became sick during the time that the boat was sailing from Puerto Rico to France. However, the cruise company is alleged to have either withheld key information or delayed in conveying it to the passengers.

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