Gov. Desantis Wants Cruising To Resume
Governor Ron Desantis recently called on the federal government to lift cruising restrictions citing tourism shortfalls in the State of Florida. Essentially, Desantis is hoping that the CDC and the federal government will lift the no sail order that’s been in place since April restricting the number of passengers on cruise ships. Desantis said that he wants the individual cruise passengers to be able to decide whether or not they choose to go on cruises or not. There are a couple of reasons why this might not be such a great idea.
Why Cruise Ships are a Concern
Cruise ships provided the United States with some of its very first cases of the coronavirus. While most of the U.S. was still watching the devastation in China and Italy, we began to see the effects of the coronavirus first hand as cruise ships were quarantined in ports around the U.S. The passengers were required to quarantine there, sometimes for weeks. There was some indication that the cruise industry knew that the passengers who had recently disembarked were exposed to the virus and allow a second tour to board.
In fact, infection aboard cruise ships is not rare at all. Infectious diseases, even those without the same level of communicability as COVID, spread quickly on cruise ships where you have passengers from all over the world mingling with one another. Buffets and drinks are served throughout the cruise. The cruise ship workers become vectors from one cruise to the next. For that reason, the CDC has imposed specific recommendations on the cruise industry. While these recommendations don’t have the force of law, anyone injured by the coronavirus aboard a cruise ship would be able to file a lawsuit on the theory that the cruise line put its passengers in danger.
COVID Lawsuit Restrictions
The State of Florida has passed legislation restricting lawsuits against companies that substantially abide by health guidelines. This could put the cruise industry in a pickle if they board passengers while CDC recommendations remain in place. Further, it would not prevent passengers from filing lawsuits in federal court, something that cruise ships generally prefer. In other words, legislation passed by Desantis would not protect the cruise industry from lawsuits, it would only prevent those lawsuits from being filed in state court.
This presents a second pickle for the cruise industry which typically forces passengers into federal court to try lawsuits. If the tickets are changed to force plaintiffs into state court, it may prevent lawsuits against cruise ships from moving forward.
Those who do embark upon cruises should be aware that the cruise industry would only need to prove substantial compliance with current public health guidelines. So chances are good that any COVID-related lawsuit against the cruise ships could be quashed before they reach a jury.
Talk to a Miami Maritime Attorney
Miami admiralty & maritime lawyer Michael F. Guilford represents the interests of passengers and crew in lawsuits against boat operators. Call today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.