Passengers aboard a Princess Cruise ship headed to Mexico in February have filed a class action lawsuit in Federal Court this week against Carnival and Princess Cruise Lines. The lawsuit alleges gross negligence in the handling of passenger health and safety which led to numerous passengers being exposed to or infected by COVID-19.
According to the complaint, on February 11, 2020, roughly 2,000 passengers boarded the Grand Princess for a roundtrip voyage from San Francisco to Mexico. The boarding process did not require any effective medical screenings for passengers or requiring of any medical information to mitigate or prevent the spread of COVID-19.
There had already been a serious outbreak on the Diamond Princess cruise which was docked in Yokohama, Japan where 10 cases turned into 700 cases (or 20% of the passengers aboard that ship). In spite of the earlier outbreak, the complaint alleges that Carnival and Princess acted negligently by not changing any of their boarding protocols aboard the Grand Princess. This led to the crew being unaware of any previously infected passengers boarding or of the spreading of the disease throughout the cruise.
“Carnival and Princess couldn’t be bothered to provide basic medical screening and allowed a wildfire of infection to spread throughout the Grand Princess,” said co-counsel Mary Alexander of Mary Alexander & Associates. “Two people died, roughly 100 became infected and who knows who else was exposed on the mainland due to the negligence of just these two cruise lines.”
The suit further alleges that because nothing was done aboard the Grand Princess’ Mexico trip, the infected passenger exposed other passengers and crew members to the coronavirus and at least 100 passengers who traveled aboard the Grand Princess have tested positive for COVID-19. In addition, at least two passengers died after disembarking, one of which was the first-reported death caused by COVID-19 in California.
“Carnival and Princess were aware of the problems aboard the Diamond Princess and cannot plead ignorance,” said co-counsel Elizabeth Cabraser of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP. “These cruise lines knew they had a problem on their hands, yet they did nothing to protect their passengers.”
It was not until a separate cruise on March 5 that any operational changes were made on the cruse, such as cabin/state room quarantine, meal service within the cabins/state rooms, and ending of daily turndown service and communal activities.
The case is Cynthia Lynn Ford et al. v. Carnival Corporation, Princess Cruise Lines, U.S. District Court, Central District of California, Case No. 2:20-CV-06226.