The cruise operator behind the Ruby Princess has failed in its attempt to exclude international passengers from joining the class action against it.
Carnival PLC has been denied its Federal Court application to block overseas passengers from joining the Ruby Princess class action, after it failed to successfully argue that they should be excluded as they signed up to different terms and conditions when buying tickets.
The class action, which was filed by Shine Lawyers on behalf of 2,700 passengers, relatives, and estates of the deceased last July, centers around the more than 700 cases of COVID-19 and 28 deaths linked to one of Carnival’s cruise ships, Ruby Princess.
The company is being sued of negligence for three alleged breaches of its duty of care to passengers, including: allowing the voyage to proceed at all despite the known risk of a COVID-19 outbreak; failing to protect passengers from contracting COVID-19 while onboard; and, failing to warn passengers of the risk of contracting COVID-19 while onboard.
Carnival is also accused of two breaches of the Australian Consumer Law:
1. Failure to provide a “safe, relaxing, and pleasurable” holiday as advertised, and;
2. False, misleading, and deceptive conduct by advertising a “safe, relaxing, and pleasurable” holiday.
“I’m pleased to confirm that Carnival’s application to exclude international passengers from the Ruby Princess class action has failed,” said Vicky Antzoulatos, class actions practice leader at Shine Lawyers.
“The Federal Court of Australia has ruled international passengers are not prevented from bringing a claim against the company in Australia. Justice Stewart found that allowing them to do so would in no way be oppressive, vexatious or an abuse of process.
“This is a significant judgment in Australia and internationally. In particular, it is the first Australian judgment dealing with a class action waiver clause with the Court finding the clause is an unfair contract term under the Australian Consumer Law.
“More than anything, it means we can continue to prosecute the class action for all passengers. Our clients are still traumatised by the loss of loved ones, and many are struggling with ongoing health issues because of this ill-fated voyage."