Princess Cruises Faces Lawsuit After Passengers Died From COVID-19

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Princess Cruise Line and the Carnival Corporation face wrongful death allegations after passengers on board their ships contracted COVID-19. Photo courtesy of the Instagram page of Princess Cruises.

SAN FRANCISCO—On Wednesday, May 27, Eva Wong and Benjamin Wong, the widow and son of deceased San Francisco resident Ronald Wong, filed a wrongful death claim against Princess Cruise Lines and the Carnival Corporation.

The case concerns a cruise that Ronald Wong boarded with his wife, Eva, on February 21, docked in San Francisco. The two intended to celebrate Ronald Wong’s 64th birthday on February 23. The Wongs both disembarked from their trip on March 10 and did not feel symptoms of COVID-19 at that time.

However, on March 15, Ronald Wong had a high fever and was transferred to a hospital the next day. On March 16, Eva Wong also tested positive for COVID-19 and, as of May 27, is still recovering.

On March 24, Ronald Wong was pronounced dead. 131 others who were aboard the Grand Princess under scrutiny had reportedly contracted COVID-19 after the cruise, five of whom died.

The plaintiffs allege that their infection was a “direct and legal result of the wrongful conduct of” Princess Cruise Lines and the Carnival Corporation. The Wongs hold that the cruise lines were cognizant of the presence of coronavirus on the Grand Princess, the ship that Ronald and Eva Wong cruised. Despite knowing that 62 of the people on the ship had been exposed to the virus, the lawsuit allegations state that the cruise line still allowed new passengers to board in San Francisco.

The plaintiffs claim that the cruise companies “did this because they make the lion’s share of their profits from on-board passenger purchases—not ticket sales.”

The Wongs are being represented by Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP, along with Anderlini & McSweeney, LLP.

In addition to this lawsuit, the Carnival Corporation is in the middle of a congressional inquiry related to negligent coronavirus precautions. According to a letter from U.S. House Representatives Peter DeFazio and Patrick Maloney, who are leading the investigation, “As of April 23, 2020, none of the front facing web-pages from any of Carnival’s nine affiliated cruise lines…mentioned a single word about COVID-19, coronavirus, or the precautions these cruise lines intend to take once the CDC lifts its ‘No Sail Order.’”

The Carnival Corporation declined to comment on the pending lawsuit but stated, “Princess Cruises has been sensitive to the difficulties the COVID-19 outbreak has caused to our guests and crew. Our response throughout this process has focused on the well-being of our guests and crew within the parameters dictated to us by the government agencies involved and the evolving medical understanding of this new illness.”