- The Australian division of Carnival Corp. has been ordered to pay for the medical costs of a woman who contracted COVID-19, after a judge found in a landmark class action lawsuit that the cruise ship operator misled passengers about safety hazards.1
- Susan Karpik, the lead plaintiff in the class action, was awarded A$4,423 (about $2,790) plus interest on her medical bills for suffering only 'very mild symptoms.' The court ruled that the cruise operators were negligent and 'breached their duty of care.'2
- The ruling opens the door for compensation for other participants in the class action. The court found it likely that Karpik's husband contracted the virus initially before transmitting it to his wife — his bout of COVID required him to spend nearly two months in hospital.3
- The ocean liner, which had 2,671 people on board, returned 11 days after it left Sydney for a 13-day voyage to New Zealand in March 2020, just as Australia closed its borders. 663 people contracted COVID-19 during the cruise and 28 died as a result.4
- The court said Carnival had already faced outbreaks aboard the Grand Princess off the coast of California and the Diamond Princess off Japan the month before. According to Carnival, the company offered the free cancellation of all cruises worldwide starting March 9 and, on March 13, all cruises were canceled.5
- Carnival Australia said in a statement that it was considering the judgment in detail. 'The pandemic was a difficult time in Australia's history, and we understand how heartbreaking it was for those affected,' it added.6
- Narrative A, as provided by UPI. Wednesday's court decision in favor of the plaintiff, Mrs. Karpik, is a win for all the passengers aboard the Ruby Princess. The cruise line knew or should have known about the heightened risk of COVID-19 infections on the ship. Now, it will need to prove individual damages unless Carnival decides to settle claims.
- Narrative B, as provided by Yahoo Finance. Ultimately, around 900 cases and 28 deaths were linked to the outbreak on board the Ruby Princess. If Australia's High Court rules in favor to include a group of 700 US passengers in the class action the number of plaintiffs could grow and it is likely that Carnival will face even greater damages when the court considers those claims. The ramifications of this ruling for Carnival staff and employees should be highlighted before damages cases progress further, especially given that it's hard to see how a private organization could have protected passengers from a disease that spread throughout the world.