Passengers Dealt Blow in Loss Against Cruise Ship Company for Coronavirus Case

Our lead trial lawyer Brett Rivkind has an international reputation for dedication and excellence. His hard work and success have been recognized extensively through awards and special recognitions.

The cruise ship companies have been shut down as a result of the coronavirus.  Today as Florida coronavirus cases have hit 301,810, we look back at the early stages of the spread of the coronavirus before the cruise ship industry had shut down.  The cruise ship companies made a decision to continue sailing with passengers after the CDC warned about the dangers of cruising with the then relatively new coronavirus that was rapidly spreading. The cruise ship company ignored warnings, and sailed its cruise ships without adequate precautions to protect the passengers and crew from contracting the coronavirus.  They did so despite known cases of the coronavirus already on the cruise ships. As a result, the cruise ships quickly became a leading source of coronavirus cases.

Several cases have been filed against the cruise ship companies arising out of their decision to continue sailing despite the known warnings about the coronavirus, and at the same time not adequately protecting the passengers and crew from the highly contagious virus. Our cruise ship accident lawyers will discuss the details of lawsuits filed by passengers against major cruise lines for coronavirus exposure on a cruise ship.

Coronavirus Claims Brought by Passengers Against Princess Cruise Lines

A California Federal Court has dealt a blow to those lawsuits where the passengers did not actually contract the coronavirus and did not suffer physical injury, or death, as a result of the coronavirus.  A Federal Judge dismissed two lawsuits against Princess Cruise Lines brought by passengers who were seeking damages for being on the cruise ships and put in danger of contracting the coronavirus, despite not actually contracting the virus.  The claim was negligent infliction of emotional distress.  They alleged emotional damages from the fear of being exposed to the virus unnecessarily by the cruise ship company’s negligence.

Federal Court Judge Gary Klausner granted a motion to dismiss, with prejudice, filed by Princess Cruise Lines, which is a subsidiary of Carnival Cruise Lines, saying that the lawsuit brought by the passengers of the Grand Princess Cruise Ship would not be successful because of the Federal Maritime Law holding that a passenger is unable to recover for negligent infliction of emotional distress unless they were in the “zone of danger”.  This means that they can only recover if they suffered some type of physical impact from the negligence or were in immediate risk of some physical harm by the conduct.

Why the Cruise Ship Passenger Coronavirus Cases Were Dismissed

Although the passengers seemed to have made a viable argument that they were placed in immediate risk of physical harm by the cruise ship company’s actions, the Court disagreed, and dismissed the case because there was no manifestation of any type of symptoms.  The Court said it would open a flood gate of trivial lawsuits if the Court allowed the case to move forward.

The case involved six Plaintiffs who were among the approximately one hundred passengers who have filed nearly identical suits against Princess Cruise Lines, each seeking over a million dollars in compensatory damages for emotional distress caused by boarding the Grand Princess vessel in San Francisco, California on February 21, 2020 after the coronavirus warnings had surfaced.  The case that was dismissed is handled by a Florida Personal Injury Lawyer, Debi F. Chalik. Princess Cruise Lines is represented by Jeffrey Maltzman of Maltzman & Partners, P.A.  It is not clear whether any appeal will be taken from the decision dismissing the lawsuits.

Coronavirus and the Future of the Cruise Ship Industry

I will continue to discuss the issues and share my thoughts involving the coronavirus and the cruise ship industry.  I do not believe this is the end of the cruise ship industry as we know it.  I have been handling cruise ship cases since 1983, and I have spoken in the United States Congress during hearings on injuries caused by cruise ship safety and security.  I was asked to come to Washington, being selected as a maritime expert for the hearings.

I predict the cruise ship industry will be back stronger than ever, and hopefully because of the lessons learned from this deadly virus, and past problems with other types of contagious illnesses such as the norovirus and gastrointestinal illnesses, the cruise ship companies will step up their policies and procedures in order to make the cruise ships safer for all passengers.  Millions of passengers have been going on cruise ships for years, and there is still a large segment of the population that has never tried a cruise.  There are many mega cruise ships that hold thousands of passengers ready to sail again, and there were many new ones being built at the time the coronavirus struck that had been put on hold.  This billion-dollar industry will likely make a comeback.  When is anybody’s guess.  Also, whether passengers will feel completely safe to take the cruise remains to be seen.

Our firm is available for free consultations for any questions regarding any harms that may have occurred during a cruise.

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