Australian Court Finds Carnival Misled Passengers About Cruise's COVID Risks

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Facts

  • The Australian division of Carnival Corp. has been ordered to pay for the medical costs of a woman who contracted COVID-19, after a judge found in a landmark class action lawsuit that the cruise ship operator misled passengers about safety hazards.

  • Susan Karpik, the lead plaintiff in the class action, was awarded A$4,423 (about $2,790) plus interest on her medical bills for suffering only "very mild symptoms." The court ruled that the cruise operators were negligent and "breached their duty of care."

The Spin

Narrative A

Wednesday's court decision in favor of the plaintiff, Mrs. Karpik, is a win for all the passengers aboard the Ruby Princess. The cruise line knew or should have known about the heightened risk of COVID-19 infections on the ship. Now, it will need to prove individual damages unless Carnival decides to settle claims.

Narrative B

Ultimately, around 900 cases and 28 deaths were linked to the outbreak on board the Ruby Princess. If Australia's High Court rules in favor to include a group of 700 US passengers in the class action the number of plaintiffs could grow and it is likely that Carnival will face even greater damages when the court considers those claims. The ramifications of this ruling for Carnival staff and employees should be highlighted before damages cases progress further, especially given that it's hard to see how a private organization could have protected passengers from a disease that spread throughout the world.

Nerd narrative

There's a 50% chance that at least 423.5K reported COVID-19 deaths will occur (globally) in 2025, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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