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Lawsuit Filed as Passengers Leave Virus-Stricken Ship

Couple accuses operator of gross negligence
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 10, 2020 7:43 AM CDT

(Newser) – Passengers on the coronavirus-stricken Grand Princess cruise ship began disembarking in Oakland on Monday—but two passengers didn't wait to leave before they filed a lawsuit. Florida residents Ronald and Eva Weissberger are suing ship operator Princess Cruise Lines for allowing them to be exposed to the virus, CNN reports. The Weissbergers were among around 3,500 passengers and crew on the ship, which was held in international waters for days after 21 people on board tested positive for the virus. Their lawsuit accuses the company of gross negligence for allowing it to depart San Francisco on Feb. 21 "knowing that the ship was infected from two previous passengers who came down with symptoms of COVID-19." They are seeking more than $1 million in damages. They argue that the line should have learned more from the outbreak on its Diamond Princess ship.

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Dozens of passengers needing acute medical care left the ship Monday, along with most of the 240 Canadians, whose government charted flights to evacuate them, but around 2,000 people remained on board. American passengers will be taken to military bases for quarantine when the disembarkation process resumes Tuesday. Passenger Robin Wright tells the AP that from her cabin window, she could see the passengers being processed and taken away. The passengers were being lined up "like cattle," says the 63-year-old from Santa Fe, NM. "Everybody was bunched up. They were physically touching each other and they were backed up along the gangplank." She says they were then taken away in chartered buses. "I'm just totally freaked out by that,” Wright says. "It’s outrageous. If that’s safe, then why were we stuck in our rooms?" (Read more coronavirus stories.)

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