A Texas woman whose husband died of the coronavirus filed a lawsuit against Princess Cruises — claiming that she and her spouse were allowed on board even though the crew knew they’d be exposed, according to a new report.
Susan and Michael Dorety, of Crowley, boarded the Grand Princess in San Francisco on February 21 to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary, KXAS-TV reported.
The lawsuit, filed Tuesday, claims that earlier that day, at least two passengers infected with COVID-19 on the ship disembarked while more than 60 who they exposed remained on board.
“They should’ve never let them on the ship,” the widow’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, told the station. “They should’ve warned them of the dangers. They should’ve tested them. And they shouldn’t have really taken that ship back out again.”
Four days later, the cruise line emailed passengers who had already disembarked to inform them they’d been exposed, the suit said. But they allegedly did not warn new passengers, including the couple.
In fact, the ship didn’t quarantine its passengers to their rooms for about two weeks, the suit charges.
Once there, Michael began showing symptoms — and his wife called an emergency line multiple times, but never got the help her husband needed, she claimed.
Susan finally convinced the crew to allow Michael to see the CDC medical personnel on the dock, three days after he first exhibited symptoms, according to the suit.
“The CDC looked at him alarmed and asked why she didn’t bring him sooner,” the suit said. “She explained that she spent the last two days trying to get Princess to let him off the ship.”
He was taken to a hospital where he tested positive for COVID-19 and “spent days suffering in agony,” according to the suit. He died alone, with his wife and children listening over the phone “as the doctor counted down Michael Dorety’s heartbeats until he was gone,” the suit said.
Princess Cruises said it doesn’t comment on pending litigation.
“Princess Cruises has been sensitive to the difficulties the COVID-19 outbreak has caused to our guests and crew,” the company said. “Our response throughout this process has focused on the well-being of our guests and crew within the parameters dictated to us by the government agencies involved and the evolving medical understanding of this new illness.”
Workers tend to passengers disembarking from the Grand Princess cruise ship at the Port of Oakland in California.Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images
Now, the widow wants to make sure nothing like this happens to anyone else.
“Obviously, a lot of things happen with the virus that no one is to blame for,” Hardin told the station. “This is a very different circumstance. This is people responsible for caring for others who knew of the risk, did not warn people of the risk, took their money for a cruise knowing as they did, so that these people might very well be exposed to a lethal virus. They did it anyway. That’s what she wants to make sure doesn’t happen again.”
The CDC said in a late March report that more than 800 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 10 deaths, had been reported among people who traveled on the Grand Princess and the Diamond Princess, another ill-fated ship.