MIAMI, FL—Royal Caribbean Cruises was recently found negligent in the lawsuit filed following an onboard toxic gas leak that killed three ship crew members and injured 19 others, according to reports by NBC Los Angeles. “Royal Caribbean’s actions demonstrated a gross indifference to the life and health of not only the plaintiff but other passengers onboard the Monarch of the Seas when it continued to cruise with measures that allowed poisonous gas exposure to its passengers,” explained Judge Mark Schumacher, of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court of Florida.
Reports suggested at least 3,4000 people, both cruise ship passengers and crewmembers, were on Royal Caribbean’s Monarch of the Seas vessel when hydrogen sulfide, a potent and sometimes deadly gas, leaked from the ship’s engine room pipes. Three crew member fatalities and 19 non-fatal injuries were reported following the cruise ship gas leak.
The court ruled that the Miami cruise line “failed to take reasonable measures to prevent exposure” to the poisonous gas. The Los Angeles County Department of Health said hydrogen sulfide is often called a “knockout agent,” because victims who suffer from acute exposure lose consciousness exceptionally fast.
Citing evidence in the case, Judge Schumacher also ruled that Royal Caribbean’s acts were “either intentional or constituted gross negligence.”
After the victim’s bodies were transported off the ship and officials from the U.S. Coast Guard conducted ship inspections, a new crew and passengers boarded the cruise. According to Monarch of the Seas passenger Monya Wright, “We were never told there was a significant problem on that ship.”
Ex-crew member Bjoern Eidiseen contended, “It was totally crazy… We should have never sailed… The cruise line knew about it and they ignored the danger.” Bjoern initially observed holes in several of the engine room’s pipes, prompting him to question the makeshift repair job. Though the ship worker warned his managers of potential safety hazards posed by the pipes, his superiors did not appear to take his concerns too seriously.
The judge’s recent ruling paves the way for Eidiseen, who claimed to have been fired for verbalizing his safety concerns, to seek punitive damages in the cruise line negligence lawsuit. Royal Caribbean representatives alleged that Eidiseen lost his job because he was not wearing protective equipment in the cruise ship’s engine room.
In earlier interviews with NBC LA reporters, the Miami-based cruise company maintained that safety was their main priority and even tried to have the lawsuit dismissed, arguing that the accusations were unsubstantiated. Nevertheless, the cruise ship negligence case is ongoing.