Home Cruises Lawsuit: “We Caught COVID On The Disney Cruise.” Here’s Why They Won’t Win

Lawsuit: “We Caught COVID On The Disney Cruise.” Here’s Why They Won’t Win

by SharonKurheg

The Walt Disney Company is huge. And when you’re a huge company that deals with millions of people every year, you’re invariably going to get sued. A lot.

Disney has BUNCHES of lawyers and they’re good ones. This is just from my own observations of course, but generally speaking, if they think the company was actually in the wrong, Disney reaches out and settles out of court. Sometimes, as in the tragic case of when an alligator at WDW killed a 2-year-old boy in 2016, things happen behind the scenes that the public never hears about. But you know that SOMETHING happened because, in this case, it’s substantially more difficult to get into the lakes at WDW (they’re fenced off), there’s more signage regarding snakes and gators, the president of WDW served on the board of directors of the non-profit organization that the boy’s parents developed, and there’s a memorial to the boy at the hotel where the incident happened. And most importantly? The parents didn’t sue!

But if Disney thinks the plaintiff doesn’t have a case, they agree to go to court. Oftentimes, the judge will throw the case out of court. But if it does go to a jury, the plaintiff might not get nearly as much as anticipated – like what happened in this case against Disney, where someone sued them for $11 million and got, well, significantly less than that.

Anyway, the Orlando Sentinel recently reported that Disney Cruise Line is facing four federal lawsuits from Utah and Arizona – two members of two families are each claiming they caught COVID-19 while onboard the Disney Fantasy ship line in March 2020, just days before the cruise line went on “pause” for what is now over a year. The plaintiffs also claim that Disney, “allowed passengers to fully participate in the subject cruise as if there was no COVID-19 outbreak or threat thereof aboard the vessel,” according to court documents obtained by the Sentinel.

The Sentinel report of the story is available exclusively to their subscribers (you can subscribe here), but was also picked up by the Tampa Bay Times. Take a look so you know the basis of the suit.

Disney’s officials, of course, denied the allegations.

“Our thoughts continue to be with those around the world who have been affected by COVID-19,” said spokesperson Cynthia Martinez in a statement. “We disagree with the allegations and will respond to them in court. No guests or Crew reported symptoms of Covid-19 while aboard the Disney Fantasy during the March 7, 2020, sailing. Disney Cruise Line communicated health and safety information with guests in advance of and during their sailing and had numerous protocols in place at the time.”

Of course, I’m not a Disney lawyer. But I don’t mind playing “armchair lawyer” for a minute or two. Because really, even as a layman, I think I can see a couple of ways how this is going to end up:

  • Of course no guests or Crew reported symptoms of Covid-19 while aboard the Disney Fantasy during the March 7, 2020, sailing. MANY Americans still didn’t know what those symptoms were (heck, even today, a whole year later, there are some Americans who are grossly misinformed about COVID). Or if they did have symptoms, they brushed it off as a cold. Pre-COVID, who would ever go to the ship’s doctor because they had a cough and lost their sense of smell? So with that, who can prove there was COVID on the ship?
  • We discussed how easy it would be to catch COVID at Walt Disney World in this post. The issue there is the same as for a Disney Cruise – with an incubation period that can last from 2 to 10 days, on top of (still!) little to no contact tracing, how can anyone prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they caught COVID where they said they did? The plaintiffs may assume they caught it on the cruise, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t catch it at, for example, the gas station on the way to Cape Canaveral, at a port of call, or during their travels to/from their cruise.

I wish both families the best of luck, and I hope they’re fully recovered by now. But there’s not a snowball’s chance in Southtown (brownie points if you get the reference!) of them winning those lawsuits. If there had been, Disney would have settled.

What do you think?

Feature Image: Disney Cruise Line

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

1 comment

DaninMCI March 15, 2021 - 7:52 am

As a risk manager I’ve run into this question a lot in the past year. They can’t prove where they caught it. Did they catch it in the cab on the way to the cruise, did they catch it out of the air, at a port or on the ship? No one knows. I’d also think a judge would be reluctant to issue a decision that could open those floodgates of ambulance chasers all over. But I’m no attorney. It reminds me of work comp cases against employers for having Covid, very difficult to prove where you got it.

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