The Federal Court has ruled the operators of the Ruby Princess cruise ship, Carnival, failed to adequately care for thousands of passengers during an onboard COVID-19 outbreak.
The Ruby Princess cruise liner docked in Sydney from New Zealand in March 2020.
Passengers were allowed to disembark despite many reporting illness. 28 COVID-19 deaths have been linked to the Ruby Princess.
Susan Karpik and her husband were among the almost 2,700 passengers onboard the Ruby Princess during a COVID-19 outbreak in 2020.
Following the cruise, Karpik’s husband was hospitalised for two months after he became critically ill.
The court ruling
The Court found Carnival had failed in its duty of care for Karpik while onboard the Ruby Princess. This included its failure to take actions to minimise the harm caused by COVID-19.
The Federal Court also accepted that Carnival misled passengers by reassuring them the cruise was safe.
In addition to a refund offered to all passengers onboard the cruise, Karpik was awarded damages of over $4,400 to cover medical expenses related to her COVID-19 diagnosis.
Karpik also applied for compensation for the distress and disappointment caused by the ordeal. The judge did not award her additional payment for this.
The Court’s ruling is expected to open the door for other passengers to receive similar payouts from Carnival.
Karpik said she was “pleased” with the outcome, which brought a “degree of comfort” for all impacted passengers.
Carnival Australia said it is now considering the judgment “in detail”.
“The pandemic was a difficult time in Australia’s history, and we understand how heartbreaking it was for those affected,” it said.