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Costa Cruises Accused of Hiding Virus Risk From Passengers (1)

April 8, 2020, 2:12 PMUpdated: April 8, 2020, 6:01 PM

Costa Cruise Lines Inc. is facing a potential class action accusing it of negligently putting more than 2,000 passengers on a transatlantic voyage at risk of catching the coronavirus.

“Costa’s negligent misconduct was predicated on a profit motive because, simply put, cruise lines like Costa make no money when passengers don’t sail,” plaintiff Paul Turner said.

On Feb. 29 an Italian passenger was evacuated from Costa Luminosa in the Cayman Islands after displaying symptoms of Covid-19 and a stroke, according to Turner’s complaint. This passenger later tested positive for the virus and died as a result, Turner said.

On March 5, Costa allowed new customers to board the ship without adequate sanitation measures, Turner claims. Costa allegedly told passengers its vessel wasn’t affected by the coronavirus, and that they wouldn’t be reimbursed if they canceled their voyage.

The company allegedly failed to inform passengers that on May 8 an elderly Italian couple had to disembark in Puerto Rico due to symptoms of Covid-19. That same day, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned U.S. citizens, especially those with underlying health conditions, not to travel by cruise ship.

Costa didn’t share this warning or give passengers an opportunity to leave the ship, Turner said. “Instead, they were dragged across the Atlantic in a ticking coronavirus time bomb.”

Costa allegedly concealed information surrounding the coronavirus from passengers by blocking out news channels on stateroom televisions. The cruise line also waited two days after learning the passengers who disembarked in Puerto Rico tested positive for the virus before ordering passengers to isolate in their staterooms, Turner said.

The ship had severely limited medical personnel and supplies, Turner claimed. An outbreak occurred on the ship, and it was denied entry to multiple ports of call, Turner said.

Passengers were finally allowed to disembark in Marseille, France, on March 19, but weren’t given protective gear or told to social distance, he added.

Turner is also suing Costa’s parent company, Costa Crociere SpA, a subsidiary of Carnival Corp.

The plaintiff recognized that a clause in Costa’s ticket contract requires passengers to file any claims in Genoa, Italy, but he argued this clause should be held void as fundamentally unfair.

Causes of Action: Negligence, infliction of emotional distress, misleading advertising, negligent misrepresentation.

Relief Requested: Damages, including punitive damages.

Potential Class Size: Turner asked the court to certify the case as a class action on behalf of more than 2,000 passengers.

Response: A Costa spokesman told Bloomberg Law the company doesn’t comment on ongoing litigation.

Attorneys: Turner is represented by Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman PA.

The case is Turner v. Costa Crociere S.p.A., S.D. Fla., No. 1:20-cv-21481, complaint filed 4/7/20.

(Updated with no-comment from Costa.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Flood in Washington at bflood@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com

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