Australian court finds cruise ship operator misled passengers about Covid risks in landmark ruling

Australian court finds cruise ship operator misled passengers about Covid risks in landmark ruling
Australian court finds cruise ship operator misled passengers about Covid risks in landmark ruling

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - A patrol boat sails past the Princess Cruises’ Ruby Princess cruise ship as it docks in Manila Bay, Philippines on May 7, 2020. — Reuters pic

SYDNEY, Oct 25 — Carnival Corp’s Australian unit has been ordered to pay the medical expenses of a woman who contracted Covid-19, with a judge ruling that the cruise ship operator misled passengers about safety risks in a landmark class action ruling.

The decision from Australia’s Federal Court is the first class action win against a cruise ship operator in the world, according to Shine Laywers, who represent about 1,000 plaintiffs in the suit.

Justice Angus Stewart found Carnival Australia misled passengers about the measures it had in place to keep passengers from contracting the virus and that it should have cancelled the March 2020 return voyage from Sydney to New Zealand.

Lead plaintiff Susan Karpik was awarded A$4,423.48 (RM13,475.57) for out-of-pocket medical expenses but no damages.

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The courts must now decide on the common claims of the remaining parties to the class action, a spokesperson for Shine Lawyers told Reuters.

“It’s of course only a partial win as 28 lives were lost on this cruise,” Karpik said in a statement.

“There are many individuals and families who will never recover from this loss.”

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Karpik, who was along with her husband Henry had been a passenger on Ruby Princess, had claimed more than A$360,000, in part due to the psychological distress of her husband’s two-month hospitalisation with the virus.

Carnival Australia said in a statement it was considering the judgment in detail.

The Ruby Princess was for a time Australia’s biggest single source of Covid infection after 2,651 passengers, many feeling unwell, were allowed to leave the ship helping spread the virus across the country and internationally.

Ultimately around 900 cases and 28 deaths would be linked to the outbreak.

A 2020 public inquiry into the outbreak concluded New South Wales state health officials made “inexcusable” mistakes when they allowed passengers to disembark. — Reuters

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