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Judgment delivered in Ruby Princess class action

The Federal Court has handed down its decision in a class action over the COVID-19-riddled Ruby Princess cruise.

user iconNaomi Neilson 25 October 2023 Big Law
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Carnival plc and Princess Cruise Line, the companies responsible for the Ruby Princess cruise ship, were found to have breached consumer law when it embarked on a trip that ended in the deaths of 28 passengers and saw 600 others contract the coronavirus.

However, lead applicant Susan Karpik did not reach the threshold for damages for personal injuries. Although she was found to be entitled for damages related to distress and disappointment, this will be at no more than the $4,400 refund already provided by Carnival.


In delivering the judgment on Wednesday (25 October) morning, Justice Angus Stewart said it was “doubtful it was possible (for the Ruby Princess) to provide cruising … that was safe, relaxing and pleasurable” when it departed in March 2020.

Justice Stewart said the cruise line owed Ms Karpik a duty of care to take “reasonable care as to her health and safety”, particularly as she suffered psychiatric injuries as a result of seeing her husband contract the virus and become hospitalised for two months.

Given Carnival had already experienced outbreaks on the Diamond Princess of Japan, the Grand Princess of California, and the outbreak on the Ruby Princess in the immediate past voyage, Justice Stewart said a decision to proceed with the cruise “carried a significant risk … and yet they proceeded regardless”.

Referring to communication with passengers prior to departing, in which Carnival reassured them about their safety, Justice Stewart said they made “misleading representations that it was reasonably safe”.

The judgment set out that Carnival should have warned passengers about the heightened risk of contracting the virus, implemented screenings and physical distancing, and isolated the ill passengers onboard from 11 March onwards.

The matter has been listed for a further case management hearing and final orders on 10 November.

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