A group of the passengers is suing Catastrophe for negligent exposure to COVID-19

A group of the passengers is suing Catastrophe for negligent exposure to COVID-19.

On March 24, 2020, approximately 2,000 passengers boarded a cruise ship owned by Catastrophe Cruise Lines. The seven-day cruise left from New York City and ended in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The passengers did not sign any type of waiver related to infectious diseases of any type and were not screened for COVID-19 prior to boarding.

Due to the outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States, the crew was required to wear masks aboard the ship, unless eating, drinking, or performing in a show. The cruise otherwise went forward as usual, including all activities, entertaining, and dining options (such as buffets and complimentary alcoholic beverages). The passengers were not required to wear masks or maintain any type of social distance from one another. During the cruise, a crew member and several passengers developed flu-like symptoms. They were not quarantined. Following the cruise, 105 passengers and 2 crew members tested positive for COVID-19. Several of the infected passengers were in ICU for an extended period and suffered lung injuries. Many others had to undergo medical treatment for other serious conditions brought about by the virus.

A group of the passengers is suing Catastrophe for negligent exposure to COVID-19



A group of the passengers is suing Catastrophe for negligent exposure to COVID-19.

1. Do you think the passengers will prevail (i.e., win) in a negligence suit against Catastrophe? Explain why or why not? (Hint: consider each element necessary to prove negligence.)

2. Legislators are considering limiting the liability of various businesses for negligence claims related to COVID-19. Under one proposed bill businesses would generally be protected from liability so long as the business operates in compliance with applicable public health guidance. Do you agree that a law limiting a business’ liability should be passed? Why or why not? What are the pros and cons?