As reported by CBS News, as the cruise industry pushes for government clearance to resume U.S. trips, a California family is among those demanding it be held accountable for its handling of the deadly Covid-19 outbreaks onboard cruise ships in early 2020. “We want it so no other families have to go through the nightmare we had to go through,” said Miguel Gonzalez, whose father, Lucio, became ill and died within weeks after leaving a Grand Princess cruise ship operated by Carnival Corporation on February 21, 2020. The family is now suing Princess Cruise Lines and its owner Carnival for negligence and wrongful death.
“Our lawsuits are intended to make sure Carnival operates safely going forward,” the family’s attorney, Lieff Cabraser partner Mark Chalos, told CBS News. “We’re attempting to make sure Carnival puts passenger safety first, above corporate profits, which unfortunately in the past has been their guiding principle.”
Citing an earlier outbreak in January 2020 on Carnival’s Diamond Princess, the lawsuit claims that the cruise line disregarded passenger safety by continuing to sail.
“Well after Carnival and Princess became aware of the first case aboard the ship, defendants worked to ‘keep the fun going’ by ‘encouraging [guests] to mingle’,” the complaint in the lawsuit alleges. To date, at least 14 passengers from that cruise died as a result of COVID-19, and all told, Carnival cruises have reportedly been associated with more than 1,500 positive COVID-19 infections and nearly 40 deaths.
“[The] defendants did not apply their lessons from the Diamond Princess to subsequent cruises,” the pleading alleges.
“The industry and Carnival knew ships were uniquely at risk, they knew [the coronavirus] was spreading and highly contagious — so by the time you get to February of 2020, there is no way this ship should have left port,” Chalos said of the Grand Princess cruise taken by Lucio and Margrit Gonzalez.
Chalos, the attorney representing the Gonzalez family and more than 100 passengers on three Carnival cruises, dismissed the idea that cruise ships are just like any other means of transportation given their past experience dealing with airborne pathogens on their ships.
“Carnival has known for decades that cruise ships create unique environments, with a lot of people in close contact at buffets, casinos and pools,” Chalos noted. “You pack together thousands of people in a very small space, and you’re going to have problems.”
About Mark Chalos
The managing partner of Lieff Cabraser’s Nashville office, Mark Chalos (@mpchalos) represents individuals who have suffered catastrophic personal injuries and families whose loved ones died due to the negligence or misconduct of others. Mark represents counties and cities across the U.S., as well as Native American tribes and health organizations, in the national opioids litigation. He is serving as part of the national case leadership in these cases, including preparing bellwether cases for trial.
Mark has tried cases to juries and judges around the country. He serves in the leadership of numerous class actions and multidistrict litigations. He is an adjunct professor of law at Vanderbilt University Law School, is a frequent speaker at legal seminars nationwide on a variety of civil litigation topics, and is regularly cited by top-tier media outlets.