Nothing says sunshine and relaxation like a bout of vomiting and diarrhea. Yuck!
More than 200 passengers on two cruise ships, Royal Caribbean's Legend of the Seas and Celebrity's Infinity, have been struck low with norovirus. The CDC is currently investigating the norovirus outbreak and monitoring clean up procedures on the two ships.
If you are one of the poor souls who got sick on a cruise ship, can you sue?
Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that spreads through contaminated food, water, and dirty surfaces. Like the stomach flu, norovirus can cause up to three days of stomach cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting. Most people won't require treatment, but some may become dehydrated and need liquids or intravenous fluids.
Cruise Ship Liability
While cruise passengers do have a bill of rights, it's the terms of ticket contract or cruising agreement that governs passengers' ability to sue.
Under the contract, passengers generally waive their right to sue unless the cruise company acted negligently.
To show negligence, you must show that the cruise company had a duty to you and breached that duty which then caused you harm.
Proving duty is easy. In Kermarec v. Compagnie Generale, the Supreme Court ruled that cruise companies had a duty to reasonably care for passengers, also known as the Kermarec rule.
Proving breach of duty is harder. You have to show that the cruise company acted below a reasonable standard of care. Did the company take adequate steps to clean rooms, facilities, and restrooms? Did the company improperly handle or store food and water? Did it make a reasonable effort to quarantine sick passengers to stop the spread of disease?
Finally, you have to show that the cruise company's breach of duty caused your injury. The cruise company could argue that you already had the virus when you came on board the ship. Or, it could claim that you contracted the virus while on shore in Mexico. Causation is often easier to prove when you're not the only one infected. It'll probably be hard for Celebrity and Royal Caribbean to argue that the 200 passengers didn't get infected on their ships.
If you've been infected with norovirus while on a cruise, an experienced litigation attorney will be able to help you consider your options for suing.