Crew Suing Royal Caribbean Over COVID-19 Failures

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Crew members are suing Royal Caribbean Cruises for gross negligence in failing to protect its employees at sea from illness and death from COVID-19.

Ukraine citizen Mykola Molchun filed the Royal Caribbean class action lawsuit on behalf of himself and other crew members who contracted or were at risk of COVID-19 on board the company’s cruise ships as a result of its “careless conduct.”

The suit claims Royal Caribbean failed to take appropriate safety measures against the spread of COVID-19 among its employees, despite timely guidance issued by authorities.

Royal Caribbean’s “egregious failure to protect its employees has already resulted in hundreds of positive COVID-19 cases and what is more likely thousands given that there is limited testing being done on its ships,” the Royal Caribbean class action lawsuit states. In addition, the filing cites three deaths resulting to date.

The list of cruise ships operated by Royal Caribbean is quite lengthy, but all are identifiable by the phrase “of the Seas” in their names.

The Royal Caribbean class action lawsuit does not specify which vessel(s) Molchun worked on during the period in question, but refers to occurrences on three of them: Oasis of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas.

The Royal Caribbean class action lawsuit notes that a much-publicized COVID-19 outbreak occurred in February on a Princess cruise ship, providing “an early, dire warning of how easily COVID-19 could spread on massive ocean liners.”

Shortly after that, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a memorandum providing “numerous helpful considerations to assist in detecting and preventing the spread of COVID-19 amongst its crew members, passengers and its vessels at large.”

On or about Feb. 29, a passenger aboard the Majesty of the Seas and another one aboard the Oasis of the Seas developed symptoms and subsequently tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Royal Caribbean class action lawsuit.

On March 8, “the U.S. Department of State, in conjunction with the CDC, set forth a recommendation that U.S. citizens should not travel by cruise ship given the CDC’s findings which support the ‘increased risk of infection of COVID-19 in a cruise ship environment,’” the Royal Caribbean class action lawsuit states.

By March 13, the company suspended all of its future cruises.

“Despite having notice that COVID-19 was and/or likely was present aboard the vessels, [Royal Caribbean] glaringly failed to follow even the most basic safety precautions after acquiring such notice, such as timely quarantining crew members stationed aboard the vessels, timely providing crew members stationed aboard the vessels masks and/or timely requiring them to observe social distancing measures aboard the vessels,” the Royal Caribbean class action lawsuit alleges.

Between March 14 and 16, Royal Caribbean management held mass crew meetings in the large theaters aboard the Symphony of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas and possibly other vessels in its fleet, the Royal Caribbean class action lawsuit claims.

Also during this period, the filing states that Royal Caribbean continued to mandate crew members’ participation in drills and served them meals in large buffet settings where they ate meals in close quarters onboard.

Topping it off, on March 17, the Royal Caribbean class action lawsuit reports the company staged “large St. Patrick’s Day crew parties with more than 1,000 crew members in attendance aboard the Liberty of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas (and potentially other [Royal Caribbean] vessels as well).” A photo of one such party, showing a large crowd of revelers in close quarters, is attached to the filing.

Starting March 28, more than 100 crew members aboard the Oasis of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas tested positive for COVID-19. Between April 12 and 18, three died — including one who had just started work March 15, according to the Royal Caribbean class action lawsuit.

The company’s “egregious failure to protect its employees has already resulted in hundreds of positive COVID-19 cases and what is more likely thousands given that there is limited testing being done on its ships,” states the Royal Caribbean class action lawsuit.

Molchun is demanding a jury trial, seeking “all damages recoverable under the law.”

He is represented in the Royal Caribbean class action lawsuit by Jason R. Margulies, Michael A. Winkleman, Jacqueline Garcell and L. Alex Perez of Lipcon Margulies Alsina & Winkleman PA.

The Royal Caribbean COVID-19 Class Action Lawsuit is Mykola Molchun v. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., Case No. 1:20-cv-21792-UU, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Miami Division.