Costa Cruises passenger sues company over alleged mishandling of coronavirus response

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CNN

(CNN) A former passenger of the Costa Luminosa is suing the ship’s operator, claiming the company put more than 2,000 people at risk by failing to warn them about a potential coronavirus exposure.

Paul Turner of Wisconsin filed a federal class action lawsuit on Tuesday against Costa Cruises, a cruise line owned by Carnival Corporation, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida in Miami.

Turner was among thousands of passengers and crew members aboard the cruise during separate journeys in late February and March.

At least three passengers have died after contracting coronavirus and numerous others, including crew members, have tested positive, according to the cruise line’s previous statements and CNN reporting.

Turner boarded the ship in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on March 5. He did not test positive for the novel coronavirus, his attorney said.

CNN has reached out to Costa Cruises for comment on the lawsuit.

It was a ‘ticking coronavirus time bomb,’ suit says

The lawsuit alleges Costa Cruises allowed the Costa Luminosa to begin a 20-day trans-Atlantic cruise March 5 knowing that at least one passenger who disembarked the ship days before had symptoms of coronavirus.

A few days after the ship sailed, the company did not immediately inform passengers when an elderly couple left the ship in Puerto Rico — the first scheduled stop in the cruise — because they had coronavirus symptoms, and later tested positive, the lawsuit states.

Michael Winkleman, an attorney representing Turner, said passengers were not given a chance to leave the vessel while they were still in Puerto Rico and were not advised that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had issued a travel advisory recommending travelers defer all cruise travel.

“Instead, they were dragged across the Atlantic in a ticking coronavirus time bomb,” Winkleman told CNN in a statement.

The Costa Luminosa had sailed toward Europe, the suit says, when the couple that was hospitalized in Puerto Rico tested positive for Covid-19. The suit says the company waited nearly a day to tell passengers of the results and waited another day before asking them to isolate in their rooms.

The suit claims the passengers suffered severe physical, emotional and psychological distress as a result of Costa’s alleged negligence.

Winkleman says Turner is seeking all damages available under the law, including punitive damages.

Numerous passengers have contracted Covid-19

Last month, Costa Cruises told CNN in a statement that three Costa Luminosa passengers from two separate journeys tested positive for Covid-19.

One of them, a man who disembarked the ship in Grand Cayman on February 29, died March 14, the company said. The 68-year-old man was the first confirmed coronavirus case in the territory, the Cayman Islands government said.

The ship began to quarantine passengers in their rooms while searching for a place to dock until France granted it permission to dock in Marseille on March 19.

Hundreds of American and Canadian passengers were taken on a chartered overnight flight to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

More than three dozen passengers on the charter flight to Atlanta have self-reported positive Covid-19 tests in a Facebook group created by fellow passengers.