Passengers sue over coronavirus-hit Grand Princess cruise ship

Florida couple aboard the coronavirus-hit Grand Princess sues cruise ship’s owner for $1million for ‘failing to properly screen passengers’ for the pathogen

  • Ronald, 75, and Eva Weissberger, 69, of Broward County, Florida, were on board 
  • They came aboard the Grand Princess ship in San Francisco on February 21 
  • Couple says cruise continued on voyage knowing passengers were exposed 
  • They want $1million from Princess Cruise Lines, claiming they were negligent
  • First passengers were evacuated from the Grand Princess at Port of Oakland 

A Florida couple who were passengers on the Grand Princess ocean liner linked to the coronavirus outbreak have sued the ship’s owner for more than $1million for putting the couple’s health at risk, according to a lawsuit filed on Monday.

Ronald and Eva Weissberger of Broward County, Florida sued Princess Cruise Lines Ltd, a unit of Carnival Corp, alleging the company has caused them emotional distress and trauma as they fear they will develop the COVID-19 disease.

The Weissbergers, who boarded the Grand Princess in San Francisco on February 21, claim that the company knew that one of its passengers from a previous voyage was infected with coronavirus.

Ronald (right) and Eva Weissberger (left) of Broward County, Florida, are suing the parent company of the Grand Princess cruise ship

The couple says the company was negligent in failing to properly screen passengers for the coronavirus

The Grand Princess is seen above after docking at the Port of Oakland on Monday

Despite that knowledge, the cruise ship decided to continue sailing on the voyage that started after the couple boarded on February 21, according to the lawsuit.  

The lawsuit also says that the company left the Weissbergers exposed to coronavirus because 62 passengers who were on board with them during their voyage were exposed to passengers from a previous voyage that were confirmed to be infected. 

The couple says that the ‘it would only stand to reason’ that the company would take all necessary precautions to make sure the ship’s passengers are free of coronavirus in light of the outbreak that took place on the Diamond Princess.

The Diamond Princess, which like the Grand Princess is owned by Princess Cruise Lines, is the luxury liner that was quarantined in Tokyo Bay last month for two weeks after an onboard outbreak of coronavirus killed seven passengers.

Hundreds of others, including several Americans, were infected. 

Princess Cruise Lines is accused of failing to properly screen passengers for possible coronavirus infection.

The lawsuit states that the passengers ‘were simply asked to fill out a piece of paper confirming they were not sick.’

‘Incredibly, not one of those 62 passengers or crew members who were mixing and mingling with the infected prior passengers were ever examined during the instant voyage until being tested for the virus on Thursday, March 5, 2020, two weeks after the ship sailed,’ the lawsuit states. 

The lawsuit was filed in US District Court in Los Angeles.

The Grand Princess docked in Oakland, California, on Monday so its 2,400 passengers could disembark and be taken to quarantine. 

The ship has been linked to 12 coronavirus cases from an earlier voyage to Mexico.

Carnival did not immediately respond to’s request for comment.

The company told Bloomberg News: ‘Our response throughout this process has focused on well-being of our guests and crew within the parameters mandated on us by the government agencies involved and the evolving medical understanding of this new illness.’

According to his Facebook page, Ronald Weissberger, 75, and his wife, 69-year-old Eva, are natives of Montreal who relocated to Fort Lauderdale.

Ronald Weissberger is the former CEO at Intelcan Technosystems, a Canadian company that specializes in air traffic management and surveillance.

According to his Facebook page, Ronald Weissberger, 75, and his wife, 69-year-old Eva, are natives of Montreal who relocated to Fort Lauderdale. Ronald Weissberger is the former CEO at Intelcan Technosystems, a Canadian company that specializes in air traffic management and surveillance

The first passengers were taken ashore from the Grand Princess that docked at California’s port of Oakland Monday, with the infected ‘being dealt with in proper isolation,’ said Vice President Mike Pence.

The Grand Princess arrived in the San Francisco Bay after days stranded at sea with 21 confirmed coronavirus infections among more than 3,500 passengers and crew, KGO-TV reported.

Emergency workers equipped with gowns, gloves, respirators and face shields loaded those requiring immediate treatment into ambulances, while all port employees and residents were cleared from the fenced-off landing site.

‘We hope before the end of today to begin to disembark California residents,’ said Pence, who was appointed to lead the US response to the virus. 

More than 900 passengers from the state were on board.

All 25 children on board were healthy, added Pence.

‘Individuals will be led off the ship in smaller groups,’ and ‘anyone who is symptomatic… will be fitted with a surgical mask and disembarked via a separate gangway’ to avoid disease spread, said a statement from Governor Gavin Newsom’s office.

The ship had been idling off the San Francisco coast since Wednesday.

Passengers gathered on balconies were ‘whooping and waving at dock workers onshore’ as the ship drew into port, said Carolyn Wright, 63, of New Mexico, from on board the vessel.

Tents were set up on the Oakland quayside, with the surrounding floor doused in what appeared to be disinfectant, she added.

Buses and flights were lined up to transport passengers.

After initial screening, those who don’t require acute care will be quarantined for 14 days at US military bases in California, Texas and Georgia – or flown to their home countries, in the case of foreign residents.

The first two passengers to get off the cruise ship were an older man and woman clutching red and white tote bags

The first two passengers aboard the quarantined Grand Princess cruise ship disembarked the liner on Monday afternoon, with one man seen being placed into a stretcher

The man agreed to sit in the stretcher where he calmly clasped his hands in his lap and both passengers were placed inside the ambulance

The male patient pictured being loaded into an ambulance after being removed from the Grand Princess Cruise ship

Those at US bases will be given private single rooms with access to private bathrooms, said Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman.

Passengers will be fully tested at their onward destination to avoid delays.

‘The crew itself will push off from the dock, and they will be quarantined and observed and treated shipboard,’ said Pence.

The entire site will be decontaminated by pressure washing with a bleach solution once the operation is complete.

Wright earlier Monday said the mood had been lifted on board by the prospect of finally reaching land, and guests were briefly allowed to leave their cabins.

Some couples danced on deck as others walked laps around the huge ship.

“It really feels wonderful to have gotten out and stretched our legs,” Wright told AFP. “I feel kind of energized and happy. It just makes you feel like, OK, things are happening and things are now moving.”

She added: “Hopefully things will be smooth from here on.”

Newsom said Sunday the whole operation to bring passengers ashore was expected to be a “two, three day process,” but warned it could take longer.

Princess Cruise Lines, the parent company of the Grand Princess, is also the owner of the Diamond Princess, the luxury liner that was quarantined in Tokyo Bay for two weeks last month after a coronavirus outbreak on board. The Diamond Princess is seen above on February 10

“We are still working out the enormity of complexity of making sure we prepare the site and… prepare for a quick turnaround,” he said.

On Monday, Princess Cruises announced full refunds, scrapped onboard charges and offered free future cruises to affected passengers on the Grand Princess.

But Canada — which had 240 citizens on the ship — became the latest country to warn people to avoid taking cruises, after the US issued a similar warning to vulnerable Americans Sunday.

The US has recorded at least 26 deaths from the coronavirus and 684 confirmed cases across 35 states, according to a Johns Hopkins tally.  

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