Cruise Line Showed “Gross Indifference” For Passenger Safety in 2005 Toxic Gas Leak

MIAMI, FL— June 15, 2011 – A judge found Royal Caribbean Cruises negligent in the case of a September 2005 poisonous gas leak that left three cruise ship crew members dead and 19 others injured, reports NBC Los Angeles. According to Florida’s 11th Judicial Circuit Court Judge Mark Schumacher, who presided over a lawsuit related to the deadly gas leak, “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.”

Reports indicated there were more than 3,400 individuals aboard the Royal Caribbean-owned Monarch of the Seas cruise ship when hydrogen sulfide, a toxic and potentially lethal gas, leaked from some of the vessel’s seemingly corroded engine room pipes.

Monya Wright, a passenger aboard the ship, maintained, “We were never told there was a significant problem on that ship.” Shortly after U.S. Coast Guard officials inspected the ship and emergency personnel removed the bodies of those who died in the toxic gas leak, new passengers boarded and the vessel set sail yet again.

The court ruling stated that Royal Caribbean Cruises “failed to take reasonable measures to prevent exposure” to hydrogen sulfide, which the Los Angeles County Department of Health said has been referred to as a “knockout agent,” due to the fact victims of acute exposure to the deadly gas tend to lose consciousness at an exceptionally fast pace.

The judge further ruled that based on evidence in the case, the cruise company’s actions were “either intentional or constituted gross negligence.”

Bjoern Eidiseen, a former crew member aboard the cruise vessel, noticed that although patches were used to cover holes in some of the engine room pipes, he questioned the safety of the ship and subsequently warned his supervisors. However, his concerns were apparently dismissed and the ship continued on its voyage.

“It was totally crazy… We should have never sailed… The cruise line knew about it and they ignored the danger,” Eidiseen contended. The ruling also set the grounds for Eidiseen, who allegedly lost his job after expressing his concerns over the hazardous engine room pipes, to seek punitive damages in connection with the toxic gas leak. On the other hand, Royal Caribbean seemed to claim the former cruise ship worker was fired because he failed to wear protective equipment upon entering the engine room.

The cruise line, which argued in the past that the allegations were unsubstantiated, and attempted to have the lawsuit dismissed, told NBC LA reporters that safety is their main concern. The cruise ship company did not provide any updated comments on the case.

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