The son of a 74-year-old man who died after testing positive for the coronavirus after traveling on a Hawaiian cruise filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Princess and Carnival Cruise Lines Monday in federal court in Los Angeles.
Carl E. Weidner, a retired steel worker from Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, was “forced to die alone” due to the alleged negligence of the staff of the Grand Princess cruise ship and its owners, according to the lawsuit.
Princess Cruises is owned by Miami-based Carnival Corp. A Carnival representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but Santa Clarita-based Princess previously said in response to a similar lawsuit involving the Grand Princess that it does not comment on pending litigation.
Weidner had taken his girlfriend on the cruise to Hawaii that headed to port early in San Francisco on March 5 due to the outbreak, according to the complaint. The couple was put into quarantine at Travis Air Base, where Weidner tested positive for COVID-19, according to the complaint, which seeks unspecified damages and attorneys fees.
Within a few days, he was put on a ventilator, then into a medically induced coma after which he died on March 26 without his girlfriend or children present, according to the lawsuit.
“What makes Carl’s death even more tragic is that this was entirely preventable because Princess failed at every turn to inform passengers, properly clean its boat or take proper safety precautions,” attorney Mary Alexander alleged. “Carl was able to win his fight against cancer, but he was taken down by Princess Cruise Line’s extreme negligence and dishonesty.”
Weidner’s girlfriend alleged little was done by the Princess staff to ensure passenger safety. For example, the buffet line did not offer ample sanitizer for patrons and the salt and pepper shakers were handled by numerous people, she alleged.
Before the San Francisco-to-Hawaii voyage, from Feb. 11 through Feb. 21, the Grand Princess sailed between San Francisco and Mexico. On Feb. 19, two days before the voyage cited in the lawsuit, at least one passenger on the Grand Princess’s Mexico trip reported suffering from COVID-19 symptoms, according to the plaintiff’s attorneys.
The suit alleges that at least two other passengers on the Mexico trip suffered from COVID-19 symptoms at some time during the voyage, likely exposing dozens of other passengers and crew. Despite knowing this, the defendants allowed 62 of the exposed passengers and over 1,000 crew members to remain onboard the Grand Princess after the Mexico trip and to continue traveling to Hawaii, exposing Weidner, his girlfriend and other unknowing new passengers to COVID-19, the complaint alleges.
On April 14, Princess announced it was canceling all voyages through June 30. The cruise line had previously announced a voluntary pause for two months, impacting voyages departing March 12 to May 10.
Carnival Cruises announced a plan Monday to phase in a resumption in North American service this summer, beginning Aug. 1 with a total of eight ships from Miami, Port Canaveral and Galveston. In connection with the plan, a pause in operations will be extended in all other North American and Australian markets through Aug. 31, the company said.
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