A court has ordered Carnival to pay the medical bills of a passenger who caught COVID on Ruby Princess in a ruling that could open the floodgates to more claims.
A judge in Australia ruled that the cruise line misled passengers about safety risks and should have cancelled the cruise in March 2020.
Carnival Australia said it is examining the verdict in detail.
Retired nurse Susan Karpik sued Carnival, Princess Cruises parent, after both she and her husband Henry caught COVID on the Ruby Princess as it sailed from Sydney to New Zealand at the start of the pandemic with 2,671 passengers and 1,146 crew onboard.
She was claiming A$360,000 (more than £187,000) but the judge awarded her just AS4,423.48 (about £2,300) for out-of-pocket expenses and medical bills after finding that Carnival’s Australia division had been ‘negligent and in breach of their duty of care’.
Judge Agnus Stewart ruled that Carnival ‘knew or ought to have known’ there was a ‘significant risk’ of an outbreak of COVID onboard, with potentially ‘disastrous’ consequences. It said any ‘reasonable person’ would have cancelled the cruise.
Some 28 people on the cruise died and many more – including Henry Karpik – were hospitalised.
Class action law firm Shine, which represented Ms Karpik, warned there could be more claims against Carnival if Australia’s High Court allows 700 American passengers to be included in its class action lawsuit against the cruise line.
Many other passengers have also sued cruise lines over COVID, including in the US where most cases have either been rejected or settled for less than $10,000 each.