A Florida couple who were stuck on the coronavirus-stricken Grand Princess is suing the cruise line, alleging gross negligence

Passenger aboard the Grand Princess celebrate as they arrive in Oakland, Calif., on Monday, March 9, 2020. Associated Press/Noah Berger
  • A Florida couple aboard the Grand Princess sued the cruise line on Monday, alleging “gross negligence” in allowing passengers to be exposed to the novel coronavirus.
  • Ronald and Eva Weissberger said in the lawsuit they would never have boarded the ship had they been warned of possible coronavirus exposure.
  • The couple is seeking $US1 million in damages.
  • The ship has at least 21 coronavirus patients on board, and officials were working on Monday and Tuesday to offload the passengers and take them to military bases to be quarantined.
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A Florida couple who spent days trapped aboard a coronavirus-stricken ship has sued the cruise line for allegedly allowing them to be exposed to the disease known as COVID-19.

The Grand Princess docked in Oakland, California, on Monday after circling the coast for days while coronavirus tests were helicoptered in. Officials have been working ever since to safely unload passengers and move them to military bases for quarantine.

The ship has at least 21 coronavirus patients on board: 19 crew members and two passengers.

Ronald and Eva Weissberger sued Princess Cruise Lines on Monday while they were still stuck on the ship. They are seeking $US1 million in damages.

Grand princess cruise
In this image from video, provided by the California National Guard, a helicopter carrying airmen with the 129th Rescue Wing flies over the Grand Princess cruise ship off the coast of California Thursday, March 5, 2020. California National Guard via Associated Press

It was unclear as of Tuesday morning whether the Weissbergers were permitted to disembark.

The lawsuit alleged gross negligence in the cruise line’s decision to continue sailing the “infected ship” even after learning that at least one passenger from a previous voyage exhibited coronavirus symptoms.

“It would only stand to reason, that having experienced such a traumatic outbreak on board one of its vessels less than a month prior to the current voyage on board the Grand Princess, that [Princess Cruises] would have learned to take all necessary precautions to keep its passengers, crew and the general public safe,” the Weissbergers’ complaint said. “Unfortunately, [the cruise line] did no such thing.”

Ultimately, three passengers from the previous voyage tested positive for coronavirus, one of whom died.

The couple is ‘traumatized from the fear’ of catching the coronavirus

Princess Cruises told CNN in a statement it had not yet been served with a lawsuit and would not comment on pending litigation.

“Princess 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 well-being our guests and crew within the parameters mandated on us by the government agencies involved and the evolving medical understanding of this new illness,” the statement said.

The Weissbergers’ lawsuit also accused the cruise line of failing to properly screen passengers before boarding, noting that they were merely asked to fill out a form confirming they were not sick.

Grand princess coronavirus
Passengers look out from balconies aboard the Grand Princess as it cruises a holding pattern about 25 miles off the coast of San Francisco on Sunday, March 8, 2020. Associated Press/Noah Berger

Other passengers have complained to media organisations about the screening procedures, lamenting that no one’s temperature was taken prior to boarding.

The lawsuit also alleged negligence from Princess Cruise Lines in failing to warn the passengers about their risk to potential coronavirus exposure before they boarded on February 21, particularly since there were 62 passengers and crew leftover from the previous voyage who had possibly already been exposed.

The Weissbergers “would never have boarded the ship” had they known of the risk before the voyage began, the lawsuit said.

It added that the couple are suffering from emotional distress, and “are traumatized from the fear of developing COVID-19 as they sit minute after minute in their confined cabin on an infected vessel.”