A proposed class-action lawsuit filed Tuesday in Los Angeles alleges that the Princess and Carnival cruise lines knowingly helped spread the COVID-19 pandemic among passengers.
Attorneys for more than 60 people who were passengers aboard the Grand Princess on its Feb. 21 cruise from San Francisco to Hawaii filed the suit in federal court, alleging gross negligence in the handling of passenger health and safety during the coronavirus outbreak.
The complaint alleges that Santa Clarita-based Princess and its Miami-headquartered parent company, Carnival Corp., did not take proper precautions in cleaning or sanitizing the ship in between voyages and did nothing to properly screen or test existing or new passengers aboard the Hawaii-bound cruise.
The cruise line has repeatedly said in response to similar lawsuits involving the Grand Princess that it does not comment on pending litigation.
Carnival and Princess are also accused of failing to notify passengers of potential dangers on board the ship. According to the plaintiffs, the defendants were aware that passengers on the prior trip reported COVID-19 symptoms, but new passengers were kept in the dark.
“Princess put profits before people, plain and simple,” plaintiffs’ lawyer Mary Alexander alleged. “At every turn, these cruise lines misinformed, misled, mistreated or put passengers in harm’s way.”
The complaint specifically notes two passengers who contracted the coronavirus, allegedly as the result of the cruise line’s lack of care.
Nancy Alvis, of Klamath County, Oregon, became infected while aboard the Grand Princess and when she sought medical help, staff gave her ibuprofen and sent her back to her cabin, the suit says.
Pamela Giusti, of San Mateo County, also became infected while on board the ship, diagnosed with COVID-19 and treated in an intensive care unit at Kaiser Permanent Medical Center, according to the complaint.
“This appalling response by Carnival and Princess is defined by a callous disregard for passenger well-being,” said plaintiffs’ co-counsel Elizabeth Cabraser. “They were more interested in packing in new passengers in order to continue operations than they were in thinking about the safety of those passengers.”
The suit also alleges that on Feb. 25, when the Grand Princess was on its way to Hawaii, Carnival and Princess sent emails to passengers who had disembarked from the San Francisco-to-Mexico trip four days earlier, alerting them that they may have been exposed to COVID-19 during that trip. However, no such notice was provided to passengers who were aboard the Grand Princess at that time, plaintiffs allege.
According to the lawsuit, passengers aboard the Grand Princess were not made aware until March 4 that there were COVID-19 infected passengers on the previous voyage. They were then told they would no longer be traveling to Mexico as originally planned but headed instead to San Francisco, the suit alleges.
An advisory alert was sent to passengers stating that a “small cluster of COVID-19 cases in Northern California (was) connected to” the Grand Princess’ Mexico trip, and passengers were informed of their potential exposure to the virus, according to the complaint.
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