A New Jersey man has filed a federal lawsuit in Miami against Royal Caribbean following last month’s storm-tossed cruise where the luxury liner Anthem of the Seas was rocked by hurricane-force winds.
Frank DeLuca is seeking class action status on behalf of the estimated 4,000 passengers who “were subjected to hours of sheer terror as the gigantic cruise ship was battered.”
The suit claims negligence and infliction of intentional and negligent emotional distress, including the “reasonable fear of death.”
The ship encountered a powerful low pressure system off the coast of the Carolinas that included 30-foot waves and 100 mph winds.
DeLuca claims the “terror” was amplified by the knowledge that the cargo ship El Faro sunk in Hurricane Joaquin during the 2015 hurricane season.
“Just months after one of the worst maritime tragedies in recent history, (Royal Caribbean’s) knowing, intentional and reckless conduct subjects it to the imposition of punitive damages,” the lawsuit states.
DeLuca’s suit is at least the second to be filed following the Anthem of the Seas incident.
A previous action was filed by passenger Bruce J. Simpson in federal court in Miami who claims Royal Caribbean knowingly sailed into the massive low pressure system, putting passengers and crew members in “serious risk.”
“We believe Royal Caribbean was under financial pressure to start the cruise on time,” said Simpson’s attorney Jason Itkin in a statement. “They took a calculated risk taking passengers into the storm, and we don’t think the passengers should be the ones that pay for Royal Caribbean’s lack of judgement.”
Itkin’s firm, Houston-based Arnold and Itkin, is also representing families of sailors who died when the cargo ship El Faro.
According to DeLuca’s suit, the captain of the Anthem of the Seas told passengers there was a weather system building along the east coast and that he intended to “outrun the growing storm.”
Royal Caribbean does not comment on pending litigation. Earlier this week, the Anthem of the Seas cut a trip short because of concerns over a similar storm that was threatening gale force winds off the Carolinas.
A post on Royal Caribbean’s Twitter account announced the turnaround Saturday, saying the ship was returning to Cape Liberty, N.J., immediately “to avoid a severe storm and provide guests with a comfortable journey back.”
The Miami law firm of Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina and Winkleman are representing DeLuca.