Royal Caribbean Faces Coronavirus Suit by Crew Members


Bloomberg Law

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. negligently exposed hundreds of its crew members to coronavirus when it threw a St. Patrick’s Day party just 4 days after it suspended cruise operations, a new class action alleges.

The cruise line was on notice that Covid-19 was likely present aboard the vessels, but failed to follow basic safety precautions such as quarantining crewmembers, providing them with masks, or requiring social distancing measures aboard the vessels, the complaint filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida alleges.

The company suspended cruise operations March 13, but 4 days later threw St. Patrick’s Day parties for its crew members aboard the vessels—with over 1,000 crew members in attendance, “in a disturbing lack of caution,” the complaint says.

Royal Caribbean also continued to allow its crew members to eat in buffet settings and mandated participation in shipboard drills, the plaintiffs say.

The company’s “flagrant failure to protect its crew 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 plaintiffs assert.

In a separate case, crew members filed similar claims against Celebrity Cruises Inc. on April 14.

Cruise lines have also been hit with several suits by passengers over coronavirus exposure.

Causes of Action: Unseaworthiness; failure to provide prompt, proper, and adequate medical care; failure to provide maintenance and cure under U.S. General Maritime Law; negligence under the Jones Act.

Relief: Damages, attorneys’ fees and costs.

Potential Class Size: The number of class members is estimated to be more than 10,000.

Response: Royal Caribbean didn’t immediately respond to request for comment.

Attorneys: Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman PA represents the plaintiffs.

The case is Molchun v. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., S.D. Fla., No. 20-cv-21792, 4/30/20.