Two suits alleging Princess Cruise Lines put passengers in danger of contracting COVID-19, have been tossed out of a California court. The judge ruled that the passengers can’t recover damages for negligent infliction of emotional distress just because they were afraid of contracting the virus.
The plaintiffs, formerly quarantined passengers Ronald and Eva Weissberger in one suit and Michael and Wyonnie Austin and Kenneth and Lucille Nickens in the other, did not test positive for the virus or have COVID-19 symptoms.
The court said that under federal maritime law, plaintiffs seeking to recover for negligent infliction of emotional distress must satisfy the “zone of danger” test set – meaning they can get damages only if they suffered a physical impact from the defendant’s negligent conduct or if they were placed in immediate risk of physical harm by the conduct.
The passengers had argued that they fell into the second category.
“Given the prevalence of COVID-19 in today’s world, plaintiffs’ proposed rule would lead to a flood of trivial suits, and open the door to unlimited and unpredictable liability,” The judge said.
The six are among approximately 100 passengers who filed nearly identical suits against Princess, each seeking US $1 million in compensatory damages for emotional distress after they stepped aboard the Grand Princess vessel in San Francisco on Feb. 21, according to Princess.
The cruise line argued that the passengers weren’t necessarily at risk simply because they embarked on the same cruise ship along with about 3,700 other passengers and crew — some of whom may have interacted with individuals from the Grand Princess’ preceding cruise who were later diagnosed with COVID-19.
The cruise industry has been hit with a number of coronavirus-related suits, including a proposed class action filed this week in a California federal court against Princess and Carnival over an outbreak on a March cruise out of Chile on the Coral Princess, which reportedly left at least two dead and passengers trapped in their cabins for days.
Source: Travel Industry Today
PRINCESS SUITS TOSSED: No damages for passengers’ fears