Forrest Booth Discusses Cruise Ship Industry's COVID-19 Liability

March 17, 2020

Hinshaw attorney Forrest Booth discussed in Law360 the potential liabilities of the cruise ship industry for claims related to coronavirus (COVID-19). Recently, a South Florida couple quarantined on a Princess Cruise Lines Ltd. ship off the coast of California sued the cruise company for what they described as a failure to take precautions to prevent a coronavirus outbreak on the ship.

Booth indicated that such claims face significant hurdles, comparative fault among them:

"When coronavirus became a known thing in early February and people chose to go on a cruise anyway, there's the assumption-of-risk argument," he said. "If someone chooses to go on a cruise from that point on, the cruise line could say, 'You knew you were going on a cruise where coronavirus exists and you assumed the risk.'"

Booth added that the cruise industry is well set up to deal with viral and bacterial outbreaks, having previously implemented cleaning protocols mandated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention following norovirus and Legionnaires' disease outbreaks on ships in recent years: He said that a "cruise ship owes a passenger a duty of ordinary care, and if they are following all the protocols of using cleaning solutions and wiping everything down and washing everything, then they usually have met that standard."

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"Cruise Ship Industry's COVID-19 Liability Likely Limited" was published by Law360, March 16, 2020.

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