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Ruby Princess passengers prepare for class action lawsuit

As the government launches a criminal investigation into the Ruby Princess disaster, passengers are also planning legal action of their own.

The Ruby Princess cruise ship has become the largest single source of coronavirus infections in the country since docking in Sydney on March 19, with 12 deaths and more than 600 cases attributed to it.

The ship, now docked at Port Kembla in the Illawarra region, was already classified as ‘medium risk’ in early March.

On March 8 the Ruby Princess arrived from New Zealand with 158 sick passengers aboard, 13 of whom had high temperatures. After disembarking the arrivals, it took on more passengers and embarked on another voyage across the Tasman.

Ben Fordham argues the decision to permit that voyage is where the disaster began.

“It’s clear passengers should not have got on board the Ruby Princess on March 8.

“How can you have a cruise unload passengers in the morning, including 158 sick people, and then take on another 2700 that evening?

“It doesn’t make sense!”

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Shine practice lawyer Vicky Antzoulatos tells Ben she’s heard dozens of inquiries from passengers, with a view to file a class action lawsuit against cruise ship operator Carnival.

“All these people have similar stories.

“They were never told anything about the risk that they would contract the virus on board; they were never given an opportunity to protect themselves, to isolate themselves.

“Even before they got on the cruise, they were never given the opportunity to say ‘I do not want to get onto this cruise ship’.”

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Passenger Ben Hardimon’s grandmother June is one of the hundreds who contracted coronavirus aboard the ship.

While queuing to board on March 8 with thousands of other passengers, he had assumed the five hour delay was due to a thorough cleaning of the vessel.

“I wouldn’t doubt people would’ve probably caught it from being in that very line.”

He tells Ben Fordham he’s optimistic about the criminal investigation, and hopeful it’ll find a culprit.

“Now [Carnival are] putting out videos saying they’ve ticked every box, but… we’re hearing that they had people on the cruise with high temperatures, with all the symptoms, but didn’t make it public to everyone on board at the time that they were potentially in an incubator.”

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Image: James D. Morgan/Getty Images



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