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A class action lawsuit has been filed against the operators of the cruise ship Ruby Princess, which docked in Sydney in March and has been linked to 21 deaths and 700 cases of COVID-19 across Australia. Over 800 of the 2,700 passengers who were on board have joined the suit.
The petition was filed by Shine Lawyers against Carnival Plc and Princess Cruise Lines Ltd, and it alleges that the cruise operators were negligent in their handling of the situation and failed in their duty of care to passengers.
"We say the owner and operator knew of the risks that passengers may contract coronavirus before the ship left and they failed to take steps to ensure their passengers were safe and protected," Class Actions Practice Leader Vicky Antzoulatos asserted. "People on board the ship trusted Carnival to do the right thing but they were not told about the risk of coronavirus and some paid the ultimate price for it."
The lawsuit comes as a state special commission of inquiry is preparing to release its findings on how the Ruby Princess was allowed to dock and release passengers in Sydney on March 19, leading to one of the country's largest and most deadly outbreaks.
Class action group member Graeme Lake's wife Karla died from COVID-19 10 days after returning home from the cruise. He expressed his family's grief in a statement and called on the operators to take responsibility.
In a statement issued to Australian media, Princess Cruises declined to comment on the lawsuit. "We have the utmost respect for our guests and understand the worldwide impact of COVID-19 including on some of our guests, crew members and their families. The NSW Special Commission of Inquiry, in which we are participating, is in the process of establishing the facts in relation to Ruby Princess," a Princess spokesperson said. "It is not our intention to respond to the assertions of class action lawyers."