MIAMI (CN) - For five days, "urine and feces leaked onto floors, walls, and ceilings" of the Carnival Triumph, more than 3,000 passengers had to "sleep on deck ... relieve themselves into buckets, bags [and] sinks," and "were given spoiled or rotting food that was unfit for ... human consumption," a couple claims in a class action.
Passengers "were generally forced to live in squalid conditions that created a severe risk of injury, illness and/or disease," the 15-page federal complaint continues. "Due to the lack of working plumbing and sanitation systems on the vessel, sewage and/or putrid water filled with urine and feces leaked onto floors, walls, and ceilings. This sewage and/or human waste sloshed around the vessel as the vessel listed while drifting and/or while under tow. Conditions became increasingly unbearable each day due to the lack of a working ventilation system on the vessel, leading to noxious odors and gasses that caused numerous passengers to vomit and/or become nauseous. At all times material, Plaintiffs and all similarly situated persons were fearful for their lives while they were trapped aboard defendant's vessel."
In a footnote, the complaint adds: "Buckets and bags of human waste were left out in the open in public passenger spaces."
Lead plaintiffs Matt and Melissa Crusan seek punitive damages from Carnival Corp., for negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
The 14-story cruise ship was carrying 4,200 passengers and crews on a projected four-day trip from Galveston to Cozumel and back. But it became disabled in the Caribbean after an engine fire on Feb. 10, lost power, propulsion, and its toilet system and drifted until it was towed into Mobile five days later.
The lawsuit estimates the class as more than 3,000. And, the Crusans say, Carnival exacerbated the fiasco to save itself money: having the ship towed 500 miles to Mobile, where its repair station is, rather than 150 miles to the nearest port.
What's more, the Crusans say in the complaint, "Carnival knew or should have known that the vessel Triumph was likely to experience mechanical and/or engine issues because of prior similar issues. A cruise in mid-January 2013 on the Triumph was affected by propulsions issues and on January 28, 2013, there was an incident which resulted in damage to the Triumph's ship's propulsion system and generators. Notwithstanding said issues, Carnival knowingly decided to embark on the subject voyage.
"On or about February 10, 2013, plaintiffs and all other similarly situated passengers were at sea aboard the Carnival Triumph when the vessel's engine room caught fire. This engine room fire disabled the Triumph's propulsion system along with the vessel's generators and other necessary machinery. As a result, the vessel was left without power and other necessities to make the vessel reasonably safe for passengers, including climate control, plumbing, waste water disposal, and refrigeration for food storage. Further, the vessel was left adrift at the mercy of the sea with no way to maneuver."
Carnival compounded the injuries by dithering, the Crusans say: "Carnival caused and/or worsened all of the above by acting grossly negligent, intentionally, wantonly, and/or recklessly, by failing to arrange for the reasonable disembarkation of passengers in the nearest port of call after the Triumph lost power and/or by choosing to tow the passengers to a dramatically further port of call for several days. More specifically, at the time of the fire, the vessel was roughly 150 miles from port in Progreso, Mexico and roughly 500 miles from a port in Mobile, Alabama. Carnival initially decided to return to Mexico, but later decided to travel all the way to Mobile, Alabama. This decision was motivated solely by financial gain and Carnival's convenience. Were Carnival to have been towed back to Mexico, Carnival would have needed a second tow back to the United States, at significant additional expense. Furthermore, instead of taking the more than 3,000 passengers back to Galveston, Texas (where the cruise began), Carnival decided to go to Mobile, Alabama, because that is where the repair facility is. In so doing, Carnival forced the passengers to further harm and inconvenience by putting them on a seven (7) hour bus ride back to Galveston. These callous, intentional decisions subjected the plaintiffs and all passengers similarly situated aboard the Triumph to five (5) days of deplorable, nightmarish conditions at sea. Such wanton, willful and outrageous conduct on the part of the defendant exposes them to punitive damages, which the plaintiffs seek herein."
They add: "Put simply, Carnival recklessly and intentionally put more than 3,000 passengers through a five (5) day living nightmare so it could protect its bottom line."
Their lead attorney is Michael Winkleman with Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkelman.
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