Princess Cruise Lines faces a growing number of negligence lawsuits over its failure to adequately combat a coronavirus outbreak, which has resulted in at least 28 confirmed cases among the 3,500 passengers and crew aboard the ship.
To date, at least five coronavirus outbreak lawsuits have been filed against the luxury cruise line, all related to an outbreak on the Grand Princess, which docked in Oakland, California on March 9.
The ship has since been moved to a remote dock in San Francisco, where remaining crew are undergoing a 14-day quarantine.
A number of passengers have filed lawsuits against the cruise line, saying it failed to adequately protect passengers or keep them informed of what was going on regarding the outbreak, and put them at significant risk.
One complaint (PDF) was filed by Debra and Michael Dalton in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on March 13, indicating that the cruise line should have been more prepared, particularly after another ship in its fleet, the Diamond Princess, suffered an outbreak in early February, which resulted in at least 700 COVID-19 cases, leaving the ship stranded for some time in Japan.
Instead, plaintiffs say the cruise line did not appear to take any additional precautions, and many were unaware there were illnesses on the ship until three or four days after the first cases were detected.
“It would only stand to reason, having experienced such a traumatic outbreak on board one of its vessels less than a month prior to Plaintiffs’ voyage on board the Grand Princess, that Princess would have learned to take all necessary precautions to keep its passengers, crew, and the general public safe,” the lawsuit states. “Unfortunately, Princess did no such thing.”
The lawsuit accuses Princess Cruise Lines of placing profits ahead of the safety of its passengers, crew and the public in general. The Dalton’s lawsuit charges the cruise line with negligence and gross negligence and seeks compensatory and punitive damages.
The number of lawsuits against the cruise line is expected to grow, with many of the passengers and crew still undergoing quarantine at military bases across the country. Reports indicate that none of the quarantined passengers had been tested for coronavirus at least as of Saturday.
On March 12, Princess Cruises issued a press release announcing it was pausing global operations for at least 60 days.
“Princess Cruises is a global vacation company that serves more than 50,000 guests daily from 70 countries as part of our diverse business, and it is widely known that we have been managing the implications of COVID-19 on two continents,” Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises, said in the press release. “By taking this bold action of voluntarily pausing the operations of our ships, it is our intention to reassure our loyal guests, team members and global stakeholders of our commitment to the health, safety and well-being of all who sail with us, as well as those who do business with us, and the countries and communities we visit around the world.”