Lawsuit filed in Northern District of California alleges negligent and grossly negligent exposure of over 2,000 cruise ship passengers to novel Coronavirus
San Francisco–(BUSINESSWIRE)– Passengers who were aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship have filed a class action injury lawsuit today in San Francisco Federal Court alleging they were exposed to the Coronavirus as a result of gross negligence by the companies that own and operate the ship. The law firms of Mary Alexander & Associates, P.C. and Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP represent passengers of the Grand Princess cruise that departed San Francisco for Hawaii on February 21, 2020. The lawsuit is against Carnival, Princess Cruise Lines, and Fairline Shipping International Ltd. (the vessel’s owner).
The lawsuit alleges that Defendants knew that the Grand Princess was infested with the potentially lethal COVID-19 or Coronavirus, but nevertheless negligently exposed more than 2,000 passengers to the virus by failing to adequately screen passengers and crew, timely implement quarantining and social distancing procedures, and failing to implement adequate disinfecting procedures. To date, 21 people aboard the Grand Princess have tested positive for the virus and 2 have died. In the United States, the COVID-19 death toll has exceeded 12,000. More than a million people worldwide have contracted the virus.
As the Complaint notes, before the San Francisco-Hawaii voyage at issue in the lawsuit, from February 11 through February 21, 2020, the Grand Princess sailed between San Francisco and Mexico. On February 19, 2 days before the ill-fated voyage in the lawsuit, at least 1 passenger on the Grand Princess’s Mexico trip reported suffering from COVID-19 symptoms. At least 2 other passengers on the Mexico trip suffered from COVID-19 symptoms at some time during the voyage, likely exposing dozens of other passengers and crew. Despite knowing this, Defendants allowed approximately 62 of these exposed passengers and over 1,000 crew members to remain onboard the Grand Princess after the Mexico trip and to continue traveling to Hawaii, exposing the unknowing new passengers, the Plaintiffs here, to COVID-19. Defendants chose to not disclose this information to the new passengers coming aboard the ship.
“Carnival and Princess Cruise Lines negligently put thousands of passengers at risk of serious harm, which risk will continue for some time,” said attorney Mary Alexander, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Plaintiffs. “Well over a thousand potentially infected individuals were allowed to share confined space with another nearly 2,000 uninfected passengers, casually and callously exposing all to COVID-19.”
The lawsuit also alleges that Defendants were aware of COVID-19 being present on their ships since at least early-February 2020, weeks before the ill-fated Grand Princess voyage. In early February, another Carnival cruise ship, the Diamond Princess, suffered an outbreak of the virus in Yokohama, Japan. The outbreak on that ship began with 10 cases, and due to the catastrophic failure to adequately safeguard and quarantine passengers, multiplied to 700 cases. To date, 7 of the Diamond Princess’ passengers have died of COVID-19, 2 of whom died prior to February 19, 2020 – 2 days before Plaintiffs’ departure on the Grand Princess.
According to news reports, Carnival also knew of COVID-19 cases on another of its cruise ships, the Ruby Princess, which has been connected with a significant number of COVID-19 cases in Australia. The Ruby Princess reportedly sailed back-to-back voyages between New Zealand and Australia in February and March. Over 600 passengers who were on the Ruby Princess have tested positive for the virus and 10 have died. Australian authorities have announced a criminal investigation into the matter.
Despite knowing critical information, including the details of the outbreaks on the Diamond Princess, the Ruby Princess, and a prior voyage on the Grand Princess, Defendants failed to take necessary precautions to keep its passengers and crew safe, such as providing accurate and complete information to potential passengers, canceling the cruise, adequately screening passengers and crew, timely implementing quarantining and social distancing procedures, and implementing adequate disinfecting procedures. Instead, Defendants chose not to adequately and timely do these things, thereby exposing Plaintiffs and the other passengers to actual risk of harm. Some passengers have contracted the virus, which has caused serious illness and risk of death.
“Carnival and Princess should simply have told incoming passengers about the known presence of Coronavirus on its ships, and the Grand Princess in particular,” notes Plaintiffs’ co-counsel Elizabeth Cabraser of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP. “With adequate information, passengers could have made informed decisions about their health and their families’ health,” Ms. Cabraser said. “Instead, because of Defendants’ choices, the passengers were led unknowingly onto a ship where they would be unavoidably mingling in close quarters with over 1,000 other people already exposed to and potentially infected with COVID-19.”
The lawsuit seeks compensation for the Plaintiffs and other passengers for harm caused by Defendants’ actions, including for damages for illness and emotional pain and suffering caused by Defendants recklessly exposing them to this deadly virus.
Learn more about Archer, et al. v. Carnival Corporation, et al., Case No. 3:20-cv-02381 filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
Mary E. Alexander
Mary Alexander & Associates, P.C.
44 Montgomery Street, Suite 1303
San Francisco, CA 94104
Telephone: (415) 433-4440
Elizabeth J. Cabraser
Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP
275 Battery Street, Suite 2900
San Francisco, CA 94111
Telephone: (415) 956-1000