ATLANTA — A south Florida couple who was on board a cruise ship carrying passengers who tested positive for coronavirus has already filed a $1 million lawsuit, alleging that the company exposed them to the disease, according to a report from NBC News.
The couple, 74-year-old Ronald Weissberger and his wife 69-year-old Eva Weissberger, boarded the Grand Princess in San Francisco on Feb. 21, planning for a vacation cruise to Hawaii.
Instead, the Hawaii-bound ship turned back for California on March 4, after it was learned that 21 people on board the ship had tested positive for COVID-19.
The ship was forced to drop anchor off the coast of California for several days before being allowed to dock at the Port of Oakland on Monday so that passengers could disembark from the vessel.
Passengers were tested and sent to quarantine centers at military bases in three states, including Dobbins Air Reserve Base near Atlanta.
According to the NBC News report, the Weissbergers filed their federal lawsuit on Monday in the Central District of California in Los Angeles against Princess Cruise Lines, saying the company's negligence exposed them to COVID-19 and it should have done more to keep travelers safe.
"Defendant Princess chose to place profits over the safety of its passengers, crew and the general public," the lawsuit states.
The suit says several passengers had traveled on the cruise ship's previous voyage to Mexico and had been exposed to the coronavirus after people on the earlier trip fell ill and later tested positive for the ailment.
Princess Cruise Lines did not alert the Weissbergers or other passengers prior to them boarding, the lawsuit says.
Debi Chalik, the Weissbergers' daughter who is also one of their attorneys, told NBC News on Tuesday that her parents said that staff on the Grand Princess did not properly communicate with guests while they were quarantined.
Ronald and Eva Weissberger also said the ship had started to run low on food, Chalik said.“They said the last two days there was not a lot of food," she said. "They were given turkey stuffing for breakfast.”
The Weissbergers were able to leave the ship on Monday night and were taken to Travis Air Force Base near Sacramento, where they will be quarantined for two weeks, Chalik said. Neither of her parents are sick or showing symptoms, but Ronald Weissberger has heart issues.
Chalik said she had to mail her father more of his heart medication.
Princess Cruise Lines did not immediately return NBC News' request for comment.
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