Ruby Princess lawsuit heads to High Court

Ruby Princess 'should never have sailed'

An appeal for compensation over a cruise holiday plagued by COVID-19 will be heard by Australia’s highest court.

Former nurse Susan Karpik is heading a class action case against cruise company Carnival, arguing the liner failed in its duty to take reasonable care of passengers onboard the Ruby Princess.

She launched proceedings against the cruise liner on behalf of passengers who travelled on a Ruby Princess voyage that departed Sydney on March 8, 2020.

The ill-fated cruise was one of Australia’s first major outbreaks of COVID-19 in the early months of the pandemic and 28 people who had been on board died from the virus.

Ms Karpik is seeking damages against Carnival, which trades under the Princess Cruises name and is the operator of the Ruby Princess, Bermuda-registered Princess Cruise Lines.

But the company contended of the 2651 passengers onboard, 696 were parties to the United States terms and conditions which contained a class action waiver clause.

Of the remaining 1955 passengers, 1796 were subject to the Australian terms and 159 to British terms and conditions.

Overseas passengers were therefore excluded from class action but Ms Karpik is leading the fight to get back in.

She is a resident of British Columbia in Canada and signed a US version of the contract.

In March, her lawyer Justin Gleeson SC argued the High Court should rule on the case as certain sections of Australian consumer law provided loopholes for foreign companies to the disadvantage of consumers.

The High Court granted special leave to hear the case and ruled there was prospect of success.

The hearing will be held on Thursday and Friday.


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