A UK Court of Appeal has ruled that 16 British passengers of the Fred. Olsen cruise ship Boudicca must be compensated for their distress from contracting norovirus during a 2011 cruise.
A 2015 ruling by a lower court found that Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines was guilty of neglect for the outbreak. The Court of Appeal rejected Fred. Olsen's claim that it should not be found liable as a matter of law.
“Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines is extremely disappointed by the court’s decision [and] believes that it made every reasonable effort, in accordance with its approved norovirus outbreak prevention and control plan, to prevent and contain the virus on board Boudicca," a company spokeswoman said.
The law firm representing the plaintiffs, Irwin Mitchell, said that it has represented hundreds of passengers from the Boudicca and has already secured settlements for other clients.
Norovirus outbreaks on cruise ships are not uncommon, and the UK benchmark for settlement amounts is in the range of $2600-$4000 for two weeks of symptoms, said Ciaran McCabe, a solicitor at law firm Moore Blatch.
McCabe told local media that the outbreak of norovirus on the Fred Olsen cruise ship Balmoral earlier this year, which affected 250 passengers, could result in claims for damages totalling over $1.3 million. Fred. Olsen said in a statement that there were only seven passengers who had been confined to their berths during that outbreak, and that it had undertaken "extensive sanitation measures and cleaning of the ship," including hiring 20 additional cleaning staff.
The CDC estimates that in the United States, cruise ships account for only about four percent of the total number of norovirus outbreaks. The great majority of cases occur in long-term care facilities, with restaurants, parties, hospitals, and schools making up the balance.