Ruby Princess survivors take legal action over cruise
A GOLD Coast retiree who almost died after contracting coronavirus on a Ruby Princess voyage has joined more than 70 other Queenslanders linked to a class action lawsuit against the cruise ship's operators.
Ian Morgan, 74, spent six weeks in hospital and clung to life in intensive care for four days after the nightmare cruise which has been linked to more than 800 COVID-19 cases including 22 deaths, sparking a special investigation.
National law firm Shine Lawyers is preparing to lodge a class action within weeks after being contacted by more than 700 people affected by the debacle, in which allegedly infected passengers disembarked in Sydney and spread the deadly virus across the country.
Three of Queensland's six coronavirus deaths were passengers on the voyage.
Speaking about his ordeal for the first time, Mr Morgan said he backed the class action because "someone stuffed up horribly".
Mr Morgan, who had no idea he had the virus until he returned home from the cruise in March, visited a Gold Coast fever clinic two days later and deteriorated so rapidly he spent days in ICU, developed blood clots, had emergency surgery and barely made it out alive.
"I'm bloody lucky to still be here," he said.
"You know when you end up in ICU that things are not going the best and I was already considered at risk because I have diabetes.
"I went through hell, I was that crook."
His wife Helen also spent a week in hospital, but tested negative for the virus.
Unable to see each other, they kept in touch by telephone until being given the all-clear.
Mr Morgan said he had no reason for alarm on the cruise, which was cut short by several days as the pandemic swept the world.
"I had seen that the Ruby Princess had mainly been cruising Australian waters and the South Pacific, which at that point was nothing like some of the hot spots overseas, so I thought we would be all right," he said.
"We never knew anything about how many people on-board were getting sick. Unless you were going down to the medical centre you ... had no idea."
Shine's class actions practice leader, Vicky Antzoulatos, said the firm was finalising a brief which was likely to be lodged with the Federal Court within weeks.
"We think they (the operators) owed a duty of care to passengers, which they breached," she said.
"People bought a ticket to go on a leisurely cruise and what happened is just absolutely shocking."
In a statement, a spokesman for Princess Cruises said the full facts would emerge during the Special Commission of Inquiry which is under way in NSW.
"We have the greatest respect for our guests knowing of the terrible worldwide impact of COVID-19, including on some of our guests and crew members," he said.