Judge Tosses COVID-19 Lawsuits Against Princess Cruises
We’ve discussed extensively the lawsuits emerging from Princess Cruises, another Carnival Corp. subsidiary, specifically, the Grand Princess and the Princess Diamond. Many commented that they believed these lawsuits were doomed from the start based on provisions under maritime law that restrict injury lawsuits against ship owners.
Recently, a federal judge dismissed several lawsuits filed against Princess Cruises in which the plaintiffs suffered no physical injury. Lawsuits for emotional damages or pain and suffering damages are barred in lawsuits against cruise ships. Below, we’ll take a look at what this decision means.
Potential Exposure Without Suffering Symptoms
A Federal Judge ruled that allowing these cases to go forward would cause a flood of trivial lawsuits to be filed against the cruise lines. These are lawsuits that have very low damages and may be barred by statute anyway.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs had argued that Princess Cruises exposed their passengers to unnecessary danger after they knew that there was an outbreak of the virus aboard the ship. While disappointed, the plaintiffs will still be able to file lawsuits if they experienced symptoms of COVID-19. Loved ones who lost family aboard the cruise ships will also be able to file wrongful death lawsuits against the cruise ships.
Should These Lawsuits be Allowed to Go Forward?
The passengers who were exposed to COVID-19 aboard the Princess cruise ships were forced to quarantine in their cabins until they could be admitted back into the country. It took about a week before the passengers were allowed to come back to shore in Oakland, California. During that period of time, they likely did suffer emotional distress, fear, and confusion over what was happening.
The allegations remain that Princess Cruises knew that there was an outbreak aboard the vessel prior to allowing a new wave of passengers to come on. They did not implement social distancing or take any precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.
Negligent infliction of emotional distress is the type of lawsuit that the judge threw out. In other words, there were no physical contact or what we would typically think of as bodily injuries (broken bones, etc.), but the experience was terrifying and caused them emotional pain. Typically, passengers sign away their rights to these damages when they purchase a ticket to board the vessel. Buried in the fine print, are several provisions that involve injury aboard the vessel.
The plaintiffs appear intent on appealing the decision. The defendants used the argument that it would put undue stress on businesses to have to fight off lawsuits where no one was physically injured. However, the plaintiffs’ experience aboard the vessel was traumatic enough to warrant a second look, and the defendant allegedly knowingly exposed them to danger.
Talk to a Miami Cruise Ship Injury Attorney
If you’ve been injured aboard a cruise ship, call Miami admiralty & maritime attorney Michael F. Guilford today to discuss what happened and the prospects of filing a lawsuit to recover damages.