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Ruby Princess passengers win class action against Carnival Australia

PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES CRUISE_Ruby_Princess_Sydney_Opera_House.jpg
The Australian Federal Court ruled in favour of the passengers who sailed from Sydney in Ruby Princess on March 8, 2020 
The Australian Federal Court released its judgment in the long-running class action by Ruby Princess passengers during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, with Justice Angus Stewart finding Princess Cruises ‘engaged in misleading representations.’

Around 2,600 passengers were aboard Ruby Princess when she sailed from Sydney for New Zealand on March 8, 2020.

The voyage was cut short when Australia announced pandemic restrictions, with the ship returning to Sydney on March 19.

Significant risk

Justice Stewart said the company’s decision to press ahead with the sailing ‘carried a significant risk’ and that it made ‘misleading representations’ that the cruise would be ‘reasonably safe’ in communications with passengers prior to departure.

However, he awarded no damages for ‘personal injury, distress and disappointment’ to the lead applicant Susan Karpik, whose husband Henry came down with COVID-19 and was admitted to the intensive care unit at Wollongong Hospital on March 21.

Mrs Karpik, a retired nurse, was seeking A$360,000, but Stewart was of the opinion that her COVID-19 was mild and did not reach the threshold for personal injuries and that any damages for distress and disappointment were offset by the refund all passengers received for the cruise.

Karpik’s lawyer was quoted as saying Wednesday’s judgment was a win and the court will now answer common questions that apply across the board to all passengers.

‘Each passenger will need to prove the individual damages unless Carnival steps up and settles all the claims, giving the very comprehensive legal findings against it,’ she said.

Careful consideration

‘We have seen the judgment and are considering it in detail,’ a Carnival Australia statement said.

‘The pandemic was a difficult time in Australia’s history and we understand how heartbreaking it was for those affected.'