SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A Texas woman is suing Princess Cruises over her husband’s death from coronavirus, alleging the company knowingly exposed the couple to the virus and preventing her sick husband from leaving the ship, leading to his death alone days later in an Oakland hospital.

Susan Dorerty filed the lawsuit on April 14, seeking damages for negligence, gross negligence and for other unlawful acts.

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Dorety and her husband Michael boarded the Grand Princess cruise ship on February 21 in San Francisco for a Hawaii cruise to celebrate their 40th anniversary. The ship had just returned from a voyage to Mexico and two passengers aboard were found to have contracted COVID-19, including one who became the first Californian to die of the disease.

There were 62 other passengers aboard the Doretys’ cruise that had also been on previous cruise to Mexico. Four days into the trip, Princess Cruises emailed the previous passengers who were no longer on the ship, alerting them that they had been exposed to the dangerous virus. But there was no warning to the new passengers, according to the Doretys’ attorney.

“It is shocking to me that a cruise line that had just discharged coronavirus-infected passengers took on board a new group of passengers to then mingle with others who had been exposed. Princess had notice of the dangers, the Doretys did not,” said attorney Rusty Hardin in a prepared statement.

Hardin alleged that in addition, when a crewmember with coronavirus symptoms left the Grand Princess in Hawaii, there still was no alert to passengers. Susan Dorety says she and her husband would have disembarked in Hawaii had they known about the risks to their health.

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“The behavior of Princess Cruise Lines is all the more outrageous because just a few weeks earlier, one of their ships had a coronavirus outbreak infecting 700 people while docked in Japan,” said Mr. Hardin. “This cruise line company put money ahead of its passengers’ well-being, and it cost Michael Dorety his life.”

While the ship was quarantined off the California coast, Michael Dorety became ill. As his health deteriorated, Susan Dorety called the ship’s emergency line multiple times, with no response, the lawsuit states. Eventually, the ship’s doctor came only to give him Tylenol and Tamiflu, but the couple was not advised until later that they could leave the ship for medical treatment, according to the lawsuit.

Michael Dorety, a retired firefighter, died while isolated in an Oakland hospital days later with no family present. Susan Dorety also contracted COVID-19; her current condition was unknown.

In a statement to CBS San Francisco, Princess Cruises said:

Princess Cruises has been sensitive to the difficulties the COVID-19 outbreak has caused to our guests and crew. Our response throughout this process has focused on the well-being of our guests and crew within the parameters dictated to us by the government agencies involved and the evolving medical understanding of this new illness.  We do not comment on any pending litigation.

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