The family of a man who worked for Royal Caribbean has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the cruise industry giant. In the lawsuit, the man’s parents claim that Royal Caribbean failed to test him for COVID-19 in a timely manner and failed to get him adequate medical attention. Maritime Injury Guide’s coronavirus cruise ship lawyer discusses the case and the status of cruise ship crew members in today’s post.
Wrongful Death Lawsuit Information
Pujiyoko was a healthy and fit 27-year-old. His dreams of traveling made his job with Royal Caribbean something of a dream come true. Pujiyoko worked as a housekeeper aboard the Symphony of the Seas, which is where he was workings when the coronavirus pandemic hit cruise ships across the world.
According to the lawsuit his parents have filed in Miami circuit court, Pujiyoko fell ill with symptoms of coronavirus around a week after all passengers had disembarked the ship. Passengers disembarked on March 23rd. He presented to the on-board medical facility every day for a week as his symptoms worsened. By March 28th, Pujiyoko had a high fever, body aches and pneumonia. He was placed on oxygen, but remained on the ship.
On March 30th, he was transported to shore via lifeboat. At the hospital, he was put on a ventilator. He died just two weeks later due to “severe anoxic brain injury.”
The wrongful death lawsuit claims that Pujiyoko should have gotten medical attention sooner, and should have been taken to a hospital sooner. His parents say that he was not tested for COVID-19 until six days after his initial symptoms began. His parents wonder if more timely medical attention could have prevented their son’s death.
Royal Caribbean has declined to comment on the case.
Royal Caribbean Under Scrutiny for Management of COVID-19
Pujiyoko is not the only Royal Caribbean crew member whose situation has resulted in a wrongful death lawsuit. In fact, Royal Caribbean is under a great deal of scrutiny about their overall management of COVID-19. There is a significant amount of concern about the way that the company treated crew members before and after cruise ship passengers disembarked.
Lawsuits claim that ship operators encouraged crew members to attend parties and events after passengers disembarked. Even among widespread fear that crew members were exposed to the coronavirus, ship operators did little to protect staff.
The wrongful death lawsuit filed by Pujiyoko’s parents states that a week before passengers disembarked the Symphony of the Seas there was at least one suspected case of coronavirus on the ship. Still, crew members worked in crowded spaces and tight quarters without adequate protection.
On March 13th, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a No Sail Order and provided cruise companies with safety guidelines for passengers and crew members. According to at least one lawsuit pending against Royal Caribbean, despite these orders crew members were not provided with proper gear. One lawsuit says that the company,
“failed to follow even the most basic safety precautions, such as quarantining crew members on its ships, providing them with masks, or requiring them to observe social distancing.”
Crew Members Still Battling Onboard Nightmare
There are still thousands of crew members who stranded onboard cruise ships. Now, concerns are increasing about the safety and health of those crew members. Suicide attempts and protests are two of the primary concerns for crew members.
Some crew members have been stuck on ships for two months waiting for their employers to negotiate their disembarkation. Many crew members have little access to the outside world. A lot of them are not getting paid during this time. Many crew members are also under quarantine in crew quarters, and are not allowed to utilize larger passenger quarters.
At least two cruise ship crew members have committed suicide, and others continue to protest and stage strikes. All they want is to go home and be with their families. Being away from home and family is taking a toll as the world continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cruise companies are negotiating with governments to disembark crew members at ports around the world. Sadly, lockdowns and flight bans make repatriation almost impossible. Furthermore, the CDC had previously banned flights for crew members repatriating. Now, the CDC says that they are allowing crew members to disembark in the United States and return home. That is, as long as the cruise line submits “a signed attestation stating that they have complied with requirements to safely disembark their crew members.”
Royal Caribbean says it has repatriated around 16,000 crew members and says the company is continuing to do so.