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Ruby Princess passengers in class action victory against Carnival Cruises

  • Lead applicant, Mrs Susan Karpik has won a class action against Ruby Princess operators, Carnival Cruises 

  • Mrs Karpik was the lead applicant in the claim against the cruise liner and was a passenger of the Ruby Princess where one of Australia’s first major COVID-19 outbreaks occurred in 2020. 

  • Shine Lawyers sought damages for Mrs Karpik’s distress and disappointment, and pain and suffering for her psychiatric injury and long COVID. 

  • Justice Stewart held that Carnival Cruises breached the consumer guarantees set out in the Australian Consumer Law and found that the cruise liner was negligent and should have cancelled the cruise.

Former nurse Susan Karpik has had a victory in court today with the Federal Court of Australia ruling in favour of Karpik’s claims against Carnival Cruises. 

Karpik was the lead applicant in the class action, led by Shine Lawyers, seeking damages arising from a breach of the consumer guarantees set out in the Australian Consumer Law and in negligence from the cruise company, following an outbreak of Coronavirus on board the Ruby Princess resulting in one of Australia’s first COVID-19 outbreaks in March 2020. 

The class action alleged that the outbreak of Coronavirus on the Ruby Princess, resulted from a failure by the cruise liner to take appropriate measures to ensure that passengers were safe and protected from contracting the virus on board the ship. 

It also claimed that such failure constituted breaches of consumer guarantees and other provisions of Australian Consumer Law.

“I am pleased with this outcome as it brings a degree of comfort for all passengers who were worse off as a result of travelling on the Ruby Princess. 

“It’s of course only a partial win as 28 lives were lost on this cruise.  

“There are many individuals and families who will never recover from this loss. 

“ As Ruby Princess passengers, we expected that if there was any risk to our safety, wellbeing, and health, they would never have taken the Ruby Princess out of Sydney Harbour,” Karpik said. 

Vicky Antzoulatos, Shine Lawyers Joint Head of Class Actions, who ran the case said, “today is a warning for cruise companies to put passengers ahead of profits.

“While the judgment is a victory for Mrs Karpik and other passengers, nothing will compensate or bring back the 28 people who contracted COVID on the cruise ship and passed away as a result. 

“Carnival should now do the right thing and compensate all the passengers rather than prolong the matter through further litigation,” she said. 

The voyage departed Sydney on March 8, 2020 and docked into Sydney on Thursday, March 19, 2020. It had 2651 passengers on board. 

Carnival argued that 696 US passengers who were subject to US Terms & Conditions, which contained a class action waiver clause, should not be included in the group. The High Court is yet to determine this issue.  

The trial commenced on 12 October 2022 after two years of preparation and ran for five weeks, with closing submissions on liability heard in the final week. This is the first class action in the world to take on a cruise company and succeed.

Passengers can still register for the class action, here: Ruby Princess Coronavirus Claim | Shine Lawyers.

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