Family of man who died from COVID-19 files suit against cruise ship lines

The family of a San Francisco man who died from the novel coronavirus is suing both Carnival and Princess cruise ship lines, alleging the companies intentionally hid knowledge that passengers and crewmembers had become infected by COVID-19 and did nothing to prevent the virus from spreading onboard the Grand Princess ship.

The suit has been filed in federal court in Pasadena in Southern California by San Francisco residents Eva Wong and Benjamin Wong, on behalf of Ronald Wong, 64, who died from COVID-19. Eva Wong is the wife of Ronald Wong, and Benjamin is their son.

Eva and Ronald Wong were both passengers onboard the Grand Princess, which set sail from San Francisco’s Pier 27 to Hawai‘i on Feb. 21.

After Eva and Ronald Wong were eventually allowed to disembark the ship in Oakland and were sent to Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield to quarantine, they both tested positive for COVID-19. On March 16, Wong was taken to a hospital in Vallejo, where he later died from the virus, the suit said.

The suit alleges both Carnival and Princess Cruises allowed the Grand Princess to board passengers and set sail from San Francisco to Hawai‘i in late February knowing that 62 passengers and hundreds of crewmembers on a previous Mexico trip had been exposed to COVID-19 by a passenger who had exhibited symptoms. Additionally, the suit alleges that the companies knew that sister ship Diamond Princess had already been quarantined in Japan since Feb. 3 after two passengers died from COVID-19 and hundreds more passengers tested positive.

The Wongs are represented by the law firm Cotchett, Pitre and McCarthy.
In a statement, attorney Alison Cordova alleged Carnival and Princess “welcomed thousands of happy passengers onboard the Grand Princess knowing that the cruise ship was a petri dish festering with the coronavirus.” She added, “The passengers and crew were captives on a cruise ship to coronavirus hell for profit.”

The suit is seeking unspecified damages for medical costs.

While Princess Cruises said May 29 it would not comment on any pending litigation, in a statement the cruise line said, “Princess Cruises 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 the well-being of our guests and crew within the parameters dictated to us by the government agencies involved and the evolving medical understanding of this new illness.”

The suit is just one of many filed against Princess and Carnival, by passengers who sailed on the Hawai‘i trip. On that trip, initially, 19 crewmembers and two passengers tested positive for the coronavirus.
Since then, however, the number testing positive increased to 103 as of March 26 and two passengers and one crewmember have died. In addition, a Placer County man who was a passenger on the ship’s previous Mexico trip died of the coronavirus, becoming California’s first fatality from the disease.

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