Celebrity Cruises sued for allegedly storing deceased passenger in drinks cooler
In August 2022, Robert L. Jones and his wife, Marilyn Jones, boarded Celebrity Equinox, a cruise ship owned by Celebrity Cruises. The boat was headed from Fort Lauderdale to Eastern Caribbean. However, according to CNN, a happy event soon turned tragic when Mr. Jones died due to a cardiac event.
The man’s widow and family have filed a lawsuit against Celebrity Cruises in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida. The lawsuit claims that Mr. Jones’ remains were improperly stored in a cooler, leading his body to decompose.
The Miami New Times reports that the company allegedly gave Mrs. Jones two options. The first was to have her husband’s remains removed from the ship to Puerto Rico and wait for a possible autopsy. Her second option was to store her husband’s body in the ship’s morgue until they returned to Fort Lauderdale; Mrs. Jones chose the second option.
However, upon returning to Florida on August 21, a funeral home employee discovered that Mr. Jones’ remains were not in the ship’s morgue. The lawsuit stated that the morgue had stopped working, and the corpse had been placed on a pallet on the floor of a beverage cooler. Since it wasn’t the correct temperature to store a body, Mr. Jones’ remains deteriorated to an advanced state.
Although requirements vary, modern cruise ships are required to have a working morgue onboard, according to a 2018 report by Thrillist.
“The funeral home staff in Ft. Lauderdale was unable to salvage his remains enough to be suitable for an open casket wake and funeral, which was a long-standing family custom and was what his family had desired,” reads the lawsuit.
The family is demanding at least $1 million in damages.
The lawsuit states that the “husband and father was callously and casually left in a beverage cooler, stripping him of his dignity in the sacred time just after his passing… the ideas and mental images will surely never leave the memory of the plaintiffs.”
In an email to Daily Hive, a representative for Celebrity Cruises stated, “Due to the sensitivity of the alleged facts and out of respect for the family, we decline to comment on the matter.”