Celebrity Cruises Faces $1M Lawsuit for Mishandling Body After Man Dies Onboard

Celebrity Reflection a cruise line of Celebrity Cruises Photo Source: Silverpics - stock.adobe.com

Celebrity Cruises is facing a lawsuit after a woman says the cruise line mishandled her dead husband's body while they were on a cruise ship last year.

On August 15th, 2022, 78-year-old Marilyn Jones and her Husband of 55 years, 79-year-old Robert Jones, were aboard the Celebrity Equinox, a cruise ship that operates throughout the Caribbean year-round, when Robert Jones unexpectedly passed away after a heart attack.

After her husband died, cruise ship operators told Jones that her husband's body would be preserved until they returned to their home dock in Fort Lauderdale, Fl. Instead, Jones accuses the cruise liner of storing her husband's body in a walk-in cooler that was normally used for beverage storage instead of a chilled morgue the cruise liner officials had promised the family.

Because of the manner in which Jones’ body was stored, his wife argues that his body severely decomposed, leaving the family without the option to have an open casket funeral, something that was “a long-standing family custom and was what his family had desired."

In her lawsuit which was filed in Fort Lauderdale, Jones details that cruise officials gave her two options after her husband passed away. The first option was to take his body off of the ship at the next stop in Puerto Rico or store the body in a morgue on the ship until they returned to Fort Lauderdale in six days.

Jones explains that the cruise ship told her if she were to deboard with her husband’s body in Puerto Rico, she would be responsible for paying the transportation cost back to Florida. Jones decided to continue with the cruise ship's itinerary until they returned home to Fort Lauderdale.

A funeral home employee raised concerns after they found the body in the walk-in cooler instead of the onboard morgue. The temperature in the cooler was significantly warmer than what was required of a morgue designed to properly preserve a body. The lawsuit explains that after they deboarded the ship in Fort Lauderdale, Jones’ body was in the "advanced stages of decomposition."

The lawsuit explains, “Mr. Jones’ body had, at some time not yet known, been moved from the ship’s morgue to a cooler on a different floor than the ship’s morgue. The cooler in which Mr. Jones’ body was found by the funeral employee, had drinks placed outside of the cooler, and was not at a temperature which was sufficient nor proper for storing a dead body to prevent decomposition.”

The improper storage of the body left the Jones family with “extreme trauma” after they were forced to “visualize Mr. Jones' body horrifically decomposed, and knowing their husband and father was callously and casually left in a beverage cooler, stripping him of his dignity," accuses the lawsuit.

Reports detail that Celebrity Cruises has not responded to the lawsuit and has not made an official comment about the death or the lawsuit after it was filed.

The family is asking for a trial by jury and is seeking damages in the amount of $1 million.

Nadia El-Yaouti
Nadia El-Yaouti
Nadia El-Yaouti is a postgraduate at James Madison University where she studied English and Education. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and two little girls. Although she considers herself a workaholic, when she’s not juggling work, you can be sure to find her traveling the world with her little family.
Legal Blogs (Sponsored)