Holland America Sued After COVID-19 Outbreak
Holland America, a subsidiary of Carnival Corp., has been hit with a COVID-19 lawsuit after an outbreak claimed the lives of passengers and crew. The outbreak occurred in March aboard the MS Zaandam. The plaintiffs hope to make the case for a federal class-action lawsuit on behalf of all the passengers aboard the MS Zaandam while the outbreak occurred.
The suit claims that the passengers were “negligently exposed” to the coronavirus. The defendants had a standard response to the lawsuit indicating that the health and safety of their crew and passengers is their top priority and they did what they could based on guidelines set out by the CDC.
The Zaandam voyage began on March 7, six days before a state of emergency was declared. The cruise was set to go on until March 21, but was cut short once the coronavirus was declared a pandemic. Nonetheless, passengers say that the injuries and deaths that occurred during the voyage were preventable.
Why Did the Cruise Stop?
It’s unclear that Holland America did anything to prevent the spread of the virus during the cruise. The voyage came to an end after the MS Zaandam kept getting rejected at South American ports. On March 22, the ship’s captain ordered all passengers to quarantine in their cabins after several crew members and passengers started showing symptoms of the virus. Eventually, the ship returned back to Fort Lauderdale where it was allowed to dock.
Four passengers died during the cruise, but it is unknown whether they succumbed to the virus or some other reason. One of those individuals was a crew member.
While the U.S. declared the pandemic a national emergency in mid-March, the WHO declared the pandemic a global emergency as early as late January and by the time the MS Zaandam sailed, deadly outbreaks had already occurred aboard the Grand Princess and the Princess Diamond.
The plaintiffs contend that the MS Zaandam crew failed to take any COVID-specific preparations prior to the voyage and made no effort to prevent the contagion, allowing crew and passengers to congregate in close quarters and even encouraging close contact activities.
Were There CDC Recommendations in Place Before the Voyage?
While the WHO declared the issue a global threat, the CDC was slower to move on the coronavirus. It wasn’t until March 13, that a shutdown was recommended and the quarantine went into place. While the voyage had begun several days prior, it does not appear the line did anything to turn back and end the cruise once the danger was known.
While it is unlikely that the case will be allowed to proceed as a class action because of class action waivers contained in the passenger ticket contract, liability for individual injuries and death will depend on whether or not the outbreak could have been anticipated, and if anticipated did the line take appropriate steps to protect its passengers and crew.
The plaintiffs will be arguing that a lockdown order aboard the cruise ship should have been put immediately and the ship should have returned to its home port, but instead the line continued on in order to not have to refund passengers their cruise fare.
Talk to Cruise Ship Injury Lawyer Today
If you’ve been injured aboard a cruise ship, it may be the cruise ship’s fault that your injury occurred. Call the Miami admiralty & maritime attorneys at Michael F. Guilford today for a free case evaluation.