A Florida maritime law firm has filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of passengers aboard the ill-fated Carnival Triumph.
The federal lawsuit, filed Monday in Florida, says that Carnival Corp. was negligent for allowing Triumph to embark on the failed cruise when the company was aware the ship was prone to mechanical and or engine issues.
Three days after leaving Galveston on Feb. 7 for Mexico, a fire ignited in the Triumph's engine room, disabling the vessel's propulsion system and knocking out power.
The cruise ship drifted for days in the Gulf of Mexico before it was towed to Mobile, Ala., on Feb. 14.
Attorneys at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman in Miami filed the lawsuit on behalf of passengers Matt and Melissa Crusan of Oklahoma, and more than 100 other passengers.
Most of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit are from Texas, according to attorney Mike Winkleman.
The lawsuit states passengers "were forced to sleep on deck and/or in other communal areas on the vessel, relieve themselves into buckets, bags, showers, sinks, were given spoiled or rotting food that was unfit for reasonable safe human consumption, and were generally forced to live in squalid conditions that created a severe risk of injury, illness and/or disease."
The lawsuit also charges that Carnival's decision to tow the Triumph to Mobile, instead of to the closer port of Progreso, Mexico, caused passengers to endure more time aboard the disabled vessel than necessary, prolonging their ordeal.
"The primary motivation for that (decision) was money," Winkleman said. "It was much cheaper for Carnival to tow the ship to Mobile where it would be repaired, rather than (have it towed) to Mexico and have another tow (from there) back to Alabama.
"It's cheaper to put 3,000 people on buses to Galveston than to have to fly them from Mexico."
Carnival spokesman Vance Gulliksen said the company would not comment on pending litigation.