Princess Cruise Lines is now facing a wrongful death lawsuit over COVID-19. Texas' Susan Dorety is seeking more than $1 million over the alleged negligent treatment of her husband, Michael, who "spent days suffering in agony" before dying in a hospital, according to her suit. Dorety says the crew failed to alert the couple that they could be exposed to the virus when they boarded the Grand Princess on Feb. 21 in celebration of their 40th wedding anniversary. That same day, at least two infected passengers disembarked while more than 60 people who were exposed on the previous Diamond Princess voyage remained on board, per the New York Post. Four days later, the cruise line alerted disembarked passengers about possible exposure, but not those on the ship, claims the suit filed in federal court.
The suit claims passengers weren't quarantined for another two weeks. When Michael fell ill, it took nearly three days to convince the crew to let him off the ship, says Dorety. Princess Cruise, facing a slew of other lawsuits, may have the upper hand legally. Maritime law expert Martin Davies tells NBC News that the standard of reasonable care rests on information available at the time, and little was known about the spread of the virus in the US when the Grand Princess departed. "Obviously, a lot of things happen with the virus that no one is to blame for," but cruise officials did know passengers "might very well be exposed to a lethal virus," Dorety's lawyer, Rusty Hardin, tells KXAS. If negligence is proven, Davies says maritime law could limit the company's liability to the cost of the ship. (A Florida couple also is suing.)