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Why Are the Coronavirus Lawsuits Against Cruise Lines Unsuccessful?


You may have read articles concerning the lawsuits filed by cruise ship passengers against Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and others. You may have also heard that these lawsuits face an uphill battle in the courts where maritime laws prevent such lawsuits from moving forward. Is it true that all these lawsuits have been unsuccessful?

The answer is no. Some of the lawsuits filed against the cruise lines are very likely to be successful. But the lawsuits that are being thrown out of the courts right now allege negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Those lawsuits are not permitted to move forward. There must be a physical injury. Below, we’ll take a look at how this works.

A Lawsuit 

One of the first lawsuits filed against a cruise line amid the pandemic involved a married couple who were aboard the ship while there was an outbreak. Neither of the individuals ever contracted the coronavirus, but they did experience the fear and uncertainty of being quarantined aboard the vessel while others were getting sick and dying. The lawsuit, however, was dismissed in federal court because vessels at sea are barred from specific types of personal injury lawsuits, including the negligent or intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Meanwhile, passengers who did contract the virus or family members of those who died aboard the vessel can still move forward with their lawsuits.

Concerns for Businesses 

Another stressor placing pressure on the issue is legislative. If Congress fears that businesses would be unduly harmed by a deluge of lawsuits, it could prevent them from reopening. Because of this, there is a great deal of wrangling happening in Congress to shield businesses from coronavirus liability lawsuits.

The cruise lines, of course, are counting on that sentiment. It could mean that they would be retroactively shielded from liability issues related to the coronavirus and no one, even those who got sick or those with family members who died would be allowed to move forward with any type of lawsuit.

The decision to toss the negligent infliction of emotional distress lawsuits was lauded by the cruise industry as consistent with established precedent, and they are right, the decision was consistent with established precedent. To maneuver around the established precedent, attorneys for the plaintiffs argued that the contract that each passenger signs before embarking on a cruise allows plaintiffs to sue in the event that the cruise line exposes them to danger. However, that provision of the contract did not trump the cruise lines’ immunity from emotional distress lawsuits. The lawsuits were dismissed and now only lawsuits related to contracting the virus are allowed to move forward.

Talk to a Miami Cruise Line Injury Attorney 

If you’ve been injured aboard a cruise ship, call Miami admiralty & maritime lawyer Michael F. Guilford today to schedule a free consultation and discuss the matter in greater detail. We can recover damages related to medical expenses, lost wages, and more. Call today!

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Contact the Law Offices of Michael F. Guilford, P.A. for a free initial consultation with Michael Guilford. Flexible appointment times are available. If you can't come to us, we will come to you. Call toll free 866-473-2636 or describe your injuries in an email.

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Michael F. Guilford, P.A.

Courthouse Tower, Suite 750
44 West Flagler St.
Miami, FL 33130

Toll Free: 866-473-2636
Phone: 305-539-1999
Fax: 305-539-1998