More than 2,000 passengers affected; lawsuit follows similar April 2020 class action against Carnival/Princess over February Hawaii Cruise
The law firms Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, Mary Alexander & Associates, and Nelson & Fraenkel, LLP have filed the first class action lawsuit on behalf of the more than 2,800 passengers negligently exposed to COVID-19 on the Princess Cruise Lines Grand Princess cruise from San Francisco to Mexico from February 11, 2020 through February 21, 2020. The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Central District of California.
The complaint alleges that at least 100 passengers who traveled onboard the Grand Princess Mexico trip have tested positive for COVID-19, and two died after disembarking. One of these fatalities was, at the time, the first-reported death caused by COVID-19 in California. All told, Carnival cruises have reportedly been associated with more than 1,500 positive COVID-19 infections and nearly 40 deaths.
“Carnival and Princess allowed potentially infected individuals on the Mexico cruise to share confined space with other passengers, casually and callously exposing all 2,500 passengers to serious illness from COVID-19,” said Lieff Cabraser partner Elizabeth Cabraser, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Plaintiffs.
As detailed in the complaint, before the Mexico cruise, Carnival and Princess became aware of an outbreak of COVID-19 aboard another of their cruise ships, the Diamond Princess, during cruises in Asia. Ten cases were originally diagnosed, and that number rapidly escalated to over 700 cases—over one-fifth of the passengers onboard—with 14 deaths.
On February 11, 2020, approximately ten days after Carnival and Princess learned about the infections aboard the Diamond Princess, the defendants boarded plaintiffs and approximately 2,500 other passengers onto the Grand Princess for a roundtrip voyage to Mexico without conducting any effective medical screenings for passengers and without providing any additional information about best practices to mitigate or prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The complaint alleges that on or around February 19, 2020, Carnival and Princess became aware of at least one passenger suffering from COVID-19 symptoms onboard the Grand Princess Mexico cruise, but they did not warn passengers aboard the ship, nor did they put into place any quarantine requirements, social distancing protocols, or meaningfully alter their on-ship protocols, event itineraries, or cleaning and disinfectant practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19. As alleged in the complaint, after Carnival and Princess became aware of the first case aboard the ship, they worked to “keep the fun going” by “encouraging [guests] to mingle.”
While onboard the Grand Princess, Plaintiff Dwight Everett began to experience symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and chose to self-isolate in his cabin. After disembarking from the cruise and returning to his home, Mr. Everett tested positive for COVID-19. Plaintiff Connie Simmons also became extremely ill while aboard the cruise, and suffered from a fever. She contacted medical staff on the ship, but did not receive any response for three days. When a doctor finally visited her room, the doctor refused to enter.
“We are shocked and disappointed that Carnival and Princess endangered our family,” said Plaintiff James Simmons, who traveled aboard the Grand Princess with his family, including his mother, Connie Simmons. “We have been loyal customers for years and never imagined that Carnival and Princess would so carelessly put our health at risk.”
“Multiple passengers on the Grand Princess’s Mexico trip suffered from COVID-19 symptoms while on the vessel,” noted Mary Alexander, who also represents the plaintiffs in the case, “exposing other passengers and crew members trapped on board the ship to the virus. This is categorically unacceptable.”
The lawsuit sets forth claims of negligence, gross negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and seeks injunctive as well as compensatory damages, including the implementation by Carnival and Princess of new and meaningful appropriate social distancing and communicable disease communication and disinfection protocols upon all cruise ships, as well as ongoing medical monitoring, diagnostics, and treatment for all infected class members.
Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP
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San Francisco, CA 94111