SACRAMENTO, Calif. >> Passengers of a Princess cruise ship filed a lawsuit Wednesday, alleging the cruise line demonstrated negligence in its response to the coronavirus outbreak by operating cruises that led to the sickening of dozens of people and at least three deaths, including a Placer County man.
Plaintiffs in the case were passengers on the Grand Princess, which departed San Francisco on Feb. 11 for a round trip to Mexico. At least four passengers became ill and started showing symptoms, according to the lawsuit, “likely exposing dozens of other passengers to the virus.”
The lawsuit was filed in federal court in San Francisco and names Carnival Corporation, Princess Cruise Lines and Fairline Shipping as defendants.
“Despite their knowledge regarding COVID-19, Defendants had no effective passenger medical screening methods in place at that time,” the lawsuit alleges.
A Placer County man aboard the cruise died after disembarking, becoming California’s first death to COVID-19.
By the time the ship docked in San Francisco to prepare for another round trip to Hawaii, “approximately 62 passengers, at least two of whom were ill, and over 1,000 crew members remained onboard the Grand Princess to continue traveling on the ship’s next voyage,” the lawsuit said.
Still, no screening measures were in place, nor were measures taken to disinfect or sanitize the ship, the lawsuit alleges.
Furthermore, the cruise line did not notify passengers who boarded on Feb. 21 for Hawaii that passengers from the previous voyage had reported COVID-19 symptoms and that passengers who stayed on the ship had been exposed to the virus, the lawsuit alleges.
Passengers from the Mexico trip were emailed on Feb. 25 about their potential exposure.
Crew did not begin sanitary measures until March 3, and on March 4 notified passengers of the presence of COVID-19 aboard the ship. Later that day, California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency and stopped the vessel from docking in San Francisco.
The ship was forced to drop anchor off the coast for nearly a week before it was escorted by the Coast Guard to the Port of Oakland, where a CDC worker in a hazmat suit boarded and knocked on each cabin door inquiring if any passengers had symptoms. On March 9, passengers were finally allowed to disembark and were transported to Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield for further quarantine.
“If Plaintiffs had known that passengers from the Grand Princess’s San Francisco Mexico trip had suffered from COVID-19, or that passengers exposed to COVID-19 on the Mexico trip remained onboard the Grand Princess, Plaintiffs would not have sailed on the February 21, 2020, round trip to Hawaii,” the lawsuit states.
One of the plaintiffs in the suit, Pamela Guisti, was infected with COVID-19 as a “direct and proximate result of Defendant’s negligence and gross negligence,” the lawsuit alleges.
Guisti was hospitalized in an intensive care unit at a Kaiser Permanente medical center.
The lawsuit argues that plaintiffs suffered injuries and emotional distress, and were traumatized by the fear of developing COVID-19 while confined on an “infected vessel.”