Royal Caribbean Cruises has been hit with a proposed class action over its allegedly “careless and continuous failure” to protect crew members from COVID-19 despite being aware the virus was likely aboard its ships.
According to the suit, “hundreds” of Royal Caribbean employees have already tested positive for COVID-19, a number the plaintiff says is more realistically thousands given the limited amount of testing available aboard the defendant’s vessels.
Filed in Florida, the 32-page lawsuit scathes that Royal Caribbean was fully aware COVID-19 “was and/or likely was” present aboard its vessels yet “glaringly failed” to take even basic safety precautions. Among Royal Caribbean’s missteps, the company failed to timely quarantine crew members, provide crew members with masks or require the workers to observe social distancing, the complaint alleges.
In what the plaintiff calls “an alarming lack of caution,” Royal Caribbean threw a St. Patrick’s Day party with more than 1,000 crew members in attendance on March 17, four days after the company suspended future cruise operations for passengers, the complaint says. Royal Caribbean crew members were subsequently allowed to continue to eat in buffet settings and mandated to participate in shipboard drills, according to the case.
As a result of Royal Caribbean’s careless negligence, thousands of crew members were exposed to and suffered the lung injuries and complications associated with COVID-19, the lawsuit alleges.
Coronavirus fears were present aboard cruise ships in early February, with the Carnival Corporation-owned Diamond Princess vessel experiencing an outbreak and initiating a two-week quarantine near Yokohama, Japan after nine passengers and one crew member tested positive for COVID-19, the lawsuit says. On February 13, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published guidance for ship operators to prevent, detect and medically manage suspected COVID-19 infections.
Given the date the CDC issued its guidance, Royal Caribbean knew and/or should have been aware as early as February 13 of the “explosive contagiousness” of the novel coronavirus and “its all but certain presence” aboard the company’s vessels, the suit alleges.
On March 14, the CDC issued its first No Sail Order, which outlined the danger the virus presented to passengers and crew aboard cruise ships, the complaint continues. Despite the order, however, Royal Caribbean continued to hold large, in-person crew meetings with no social distancing measures, per the suit. On March 15, a passenger aboard Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas developed COVID-19 symptoms and later tested positive for the virus, the lawsuit says. On March 23, news spread around a Royal Caribbean-operated Celebrity Cruises vessel that seven crew members had tested positive for COVID-19, the case goes on.
Royal Caribbean implemented social distancing measures aboard one vessel, the Symphony of the Seas, for the first time on March 29, the lawsuit says.
Throughout April, hundreds of Royal Caribbean crew members tested positive for COVID-19, the complaint claims. At least three have died since the CDC issued its second No Sail Order on April 9, according to the complaint.
ClassAction.org’s coverage of COVID-19 litigation can be found here and over on our Newswire.