On May 13, 2020, another coronavirus-related class action suit was filed against the cruise industry, this time in federal court in the Southern District of Florida against Celebrity Cruise Inc. The suit alleges that the cruise line was aware of the dangerous conditions presented by a COVID-19 outbreak aboard a vessel due to the virus’s ability to rapidly spread, and yet failed to reasonably protect passengers.
Named plaintiffs in the suit, Frank and Marlene Kantrow, boarded the Celebrity Eclipse cruise ship on March 1, 2020, intending to spend two weeks aboard while cruising from Argentina to Chile. However, due to the rampant spread of COVID-19 aboard the vessel and the global shutdowns to help stop the spread of the virus, the plaintiffs were trapped onboard the ship until March 30, 2020.
According to the complaint, on March 2, 2020, just one day after the plaintiffs boarded the ship, the defendant became aware that a person onboard was exhibiting flu-like symptoms consistent with COVID-19. However, despite knowing that there was likely a COVID-19 case present on the ship, and being aware of how quickly the virus can spread on a cruise ship because of prior situations that arose on the Grand Princess and Diamond Princess, the defendant failed to enact a quarantine or any physical distancing measures for either staff or passengers for the duration of the voyage.
Plaintiffs argued that rather than take proper measures to protect the health and safety of the crew and passengers, the defendant continued to allow passengers to dine in a buffet-style service and provided mass group entertainment events, like dancing. The plaintiff pointed out that the defendant went so far as to encourage all persons aboard to attend a large gathering on the top decks to recognize the heroics of medical professionals.
As a result of Celebrity’s failure to protect its passengers from the COVID-19 outbreak on the ship, at least 45 crew members and passengers tested positive for the virus. The plaintiffs are seeking to represent a class made up of passengers aboard the Celebrity Eclipse who contracted COVID-19 and/or were placed at a heightened risk of exposure to COVID-19 while aboard the vessel as a result of Celebrity’s careless conduct. The suit brings causes of action for general negligence, negligent failure to warn, negligent infliction of emotional distress and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
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