(March 26, 2020) - Princess Cruise Lines passengers have filed seven lawsuits claiming the company negligently exposed them to the coronavirus by allowing one of its ocean liners to set sail despite knowing at least two disembarked passengers exhibited symptoms of COVID-19.
Jones et al. v. Princess Cruise Lines Ltd., No. 20-cv-2727, complaint filed, 2020 WL 1445274 (C.D. Cal. Mar. 24, 2020).
Austin et al. v. Princess Cruise Lines Ltd., No. 20-cv-2531, complaint filed, 2020 WL 1282232 (C.D. Cal. Mar. 17, 2020).
Sheedy et al. v. Princess Cruise Lines Ltd., No. 20-cv-2430, complaint filed, 2020 WL 1231185 (C.D. Cal. Mar. 13, 2020).
Abitbol et al. v. Princess Cruise Lines Ltd., No. 20-cv-2414, complaint filed, 2020 WL 1231198 (C.D. Cal. Mar. 13, 2020).
Kurivial et al. v. Princess Cruise Lines Ltd., No. 20-cv-2361, complaint filed (C.D. Cal. Mar. 12, 2020).
Gleason et al. v. Princess Cruise Lines Ltd., No. 20-cv-2328, complaint filed (C.D. Cal Mar. 11, 2020).
Weissberger et al. v. Princess Cruise Lines Ltd., No. 20-cv-2267, complaint filed, 2020 WL 1151023 (C.D. Cal. Mar. 9, 2020).
Each suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, accuses the cruise ship operator of negligence and gross negligence and seeks damages in excess of $1 million.
In one complaint, plaintiffs Michael and Wyonnie Austin and Kenneth and Lucille Nickens claim passengers who boarded the Grand Princess cruise ship Feb. 21 in San Francisco were not told that at least two people who disembarked that day exhibited symptoms of COVID-19. One of those passengers later died, the suit says.
Princess Cruise Lines also failed to tell passengers that at least 62 people on board were holdovers from a previous leg of the voyage who likely had contact with the sick passengers, according to the lawsuit.
The other six complaints, all filed by attorneys at Simmrin Law Group and Chalik & Chalik, make similar allegations against the Santa Clarita, California-based Princess.
Princess Cruise Lines should have known about the risk of exposure to COVID-19 based on its experience with the Diamond Princess, another ship it owned, the lawsuits say.
Authorities quarantined that ship Feb. 5 after a passenger who disembarked in Hong Kong was diagnosed with COVID-19. More than 700 passengers ultimately became infected, according to Reuters.
However, according to the lawsuits, passengers on board the Grand Princess were not screened for any illness and were only asked to fill out a form stating they were not sick.
In addition, none of the 62 passengers who remained on the “infected ship” after an earlier leg of the journey was examined until March 5, and all were permitted to interact with the vessel’s 3,000 other passengers, the suits say.
The plaintiffs in each suit say that if they had been informed of the possibility of infection, they would have disembarked or not boarded the Grand Princess.
Instead, they say they remained on the ship until it docked off the coast of California, where passengers were told to stay in their cabins until they could be transferred to U.S. military bases throughout the country to continue their quarantine.
The suits claim Princess put the plaintiffs at risk of injury and caused them emotional distress and trauma from fear of contracting the virus.