Cruise ship passengers file suit over illnesses
From Susan Candiotti
MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- A class action lawsuit has been filed against Holland America Cruise Lines, seeking damages on behalf of more than 500 passengers and crew members who were sickened by the Norwalk virus on four recent Caribbean cruises aboard Holland's ship, the Amsterdam.
The complaint, filed Monday in Seattle where the company is headquartered, alleges that Holland America "knew or should have known" that its passengers could be infected with the highly contagious virus by not taking the ocean liner out of service while sanitizing the ship and eliminating the prospect of sickening more people.
Hundreds of passengers and crew members took ill with the virus on four consecutive sailings of the Amsterdam in October and November. After 68 people became ill during the last sailing, Holland America took the ship out of service last week.
It is docked at Port Everglades, near Fort Lauderdale, for at least 10 days while company officials consult with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and scour the ship from stem to stern.
According to the lawsuit, filed by the California-based law firm Norton and Melnick, two of the passengers who caught the virus on the Amsterdam's last cruise were Ralph and Ursula Donnelly of Grass Valley, California.
Ralph Donnelly was taken off the Amsterdam when it stopped in Curacao and suffered a burst blood vessel in his esophagus requiring a blood transfusion, according to an attorney with the law firm.
The same firm has filed a class action complaint against Holland America over an cruise last July aboard another ship, Ryndam, during which at least 100 people contracted the Norwalk virus while traveling to Alaska.