LAW firm Shine Lawyers has filed a class action against Carnival and Princess Cruise Lines over what they say was their “mishandling of a deadly coronavirus outbreak” on board the Ruby Princess.
As has been widely reported, people with COVID-19 were allowed to disembark the vessel in Sydney back in March, with criticisms variously levelled at NSW Health, the cruise ship operators and the Australian Border Force.
In a statement, Shine said the firm was “seeking compensation through the Federal Court of Australia on behalf of passengers, their families, and the estates of those who tragically died”.
Class actions practice leader Vicky Antzoulatos said it was alleged the defendants broke Australian consumer laws “by breaching consumer guarantees and by engaging in conduct that was misleading and deceptive”.
It is also alleged operators of the Ruby Princess “were negligent and failed in their duty of care to provide passengers with a safe cruise”.
“We say the owner and operator knew of the risks that passengers may contract coronavirus before the ship left and they failed to take steps to ensure their passengers were safe and protected,” Ms Antzoulatos said.
“People on board the ship trusted Carnival to do the right thing but they were not told about the risk of coronavirus and some paid the ultimate price for it.
“More than 20 people have died, many remain gravely ill, while others struggle daily with the grief of having lost a loved one or having to care for a very sick relative.”
Class action group member Graeme Lake, whose wife Karla died from coronavirus, called on the operators to take responsibility.
“Karla went on that cruise to celebrate her 75th birthday and what happened to her has destroyed us,” he said.
I am doing everything I can to get justice.” All 2,700 passengers who travelled on the Ruby Princess, departing from Circular Quay on March 8 and disembarking on March 19, 2020, are eligible to join the class action, as are relatives who have suffered a psychiatric injury as a result of the events that occurred. The executors and administrators of deceased passengers’ estates are also eligible to participate in the class action.
In a prepared statement, Princess Cruises said they had “the utmost respect for our guests and understand the worldwide impact of COVID-19 including on some of our guests, crew members and their families”.
“The NSW special commission of inquiry, in which we are participating, is in the process of establishing the facts in relation to Ruby Princess,” company stated.
“It is not our intention to respond to the assertions of class action lawyers.”