A former passenger with Costa Cruises has filed a class-action lawsuit against the cruise line, claiming the Costa failed to warn guests about a person on a previous voyage who disembarked after exhibiting possible coronavirus symptoms.
The plaintiff, identified as Paul Turner, was aboard the most recent voyage of the Costa Luminosa, which left from Florida on March 5, for a 20-day cruise scheduled to end in Italy. Just weeks later at a stop in France, however, officials determined that at least 36 passengers had contracted COVID-19, Reuters reported.
Turner’s lawsuit alleges that Costa Cruises made an “intentional decision” to move forward with the March 5 cruise despite knowing a passenger on a previous voyage “had symptoms of coronavirus,” according to the lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida, by the law firm of Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman. The complaint further alleges that the company had intentionally tried to “conceal” this knowledge from passengers on the March 5 cruise.
“In so doing, Costa subjected over 2,000 passengers to the highly contagious coronavirus, and exposing passengers to actual risk of immediate physical injury and death,” it said.
The Costa Luminosa departed Fort Lauderdale on March 5, but disembarked its first two passengers, an elderly couple, in Puerto Rico during the ship’s first stop on March 8, Reuters reported. They were hospitalized with possible symptoms of COVID-19, and later tested positive.
Turner’s lawsuit further claims Costa Cruises had also learned of a warning, issued March 8, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that U.S. citizens should avoid traveling by cruise ship.
“Instead, they were dragged across the Atlantic in a ticking coronavirus time bomb,” the complaint alleges.
The governor of Puerto Rico confirmed the elderly couple tested positive for COVID-19 on March 13, by which time Costa had also learned that a passenger who disembarked from the previous voyage had also tested positive. Turner’s lawsuit alleges that Costa did not instruct passengers to isolate in their staterooms until March 15. The ship, meanwhile, was denied scheduled ports until it was ultimately allowed to dock near Marseille, France, where COVID-19 tests were administered.
“Put simply, Costa recklessly and intentionally put thousands of its passengers through a living nightmare so it could protect its bottom line,” the complaint reads.
Turner is seeking “all damages recoverable under the law” for himself and his fellow cruise passengers, including punitive damages.
Turner’s lawsuit comes amid news that a crew member aboard the Costa Favolosa died at a hospital in Florida after contracting COVID-19, the Miami Herald reports. In late March, both the Costa Favolosa and the Costa Magica docked in Florida with dozens of crew members reporting “influenza-like” illness symptoms. The ships had already been turned away from numerous ports.
A representative for Costa Cruises, which is owned by the Carnival Corporation, was not immediately available to comment on the lawsuit.