The Ruby Princess cruise ship departs Port Kembla in Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia, April 23, 2020. (Photo: Agencies)
SYDNEY - The Ruby Princess cruise ship, which docked in Sydney in March and has been linked to 21 deaths and 700 cases of COVID-19 across Australia, will be the subject of a class action lawsuit announced Friday.
Shine Lawyers has filed a class action against Carnival Plc and Princess Cruise Lines Ltd, saying 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 said.
"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 was preparing to release its findings regarding why 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.
"Karla went on that cruise to celebrate her 75th birthday and what happened to her has destroyed us," he said.
All 2,700 passengers on board the ill-fated ship were invited to join the class action, as well as affected relatives.