A widow and her family have sued a leading cruise line for mishandling the husband’s dead body and also storing it in a drinks cooler after his death on one of its vessels.
Robert Jones’ body was stored inside a walk-in cooler that is typically used to store drinks for almost a week instead of keeping it in a chilled morgue as Jones’ wife was duly promised, per the federal lawsuit filed in Florida.
Mr Jones lost his life following a cardiac attack while on a cruise vessel on 15 August 2022. The lawsuit claims that his body was discovered when it reached advanced stages of decomposition, within a cooler in a bag on a palette. This left the body green and bloated.
The family could not have an open-coffin funeral, a long-standing custom.
The cruise line declined to comment on the case, citing sensitivity and out of their respect for the deceased’s family. The ship, which cruises the Caribbean out of Florida’s Fort Lauderdale year-round, is flagged out of Malta and can carry nearly 3,000 guests.
Per the lawsuit, after Mr Jones lost his life, his widow Marilyn was offered two options by the crew.
They allegedly informed her that the body could be taken off at Puerto Rico, the next stop, or kept in the morgue until the vessel returned in six days to Fort Lauderdale.
In the event of a guest’s death, most leading cruise vessels have a morgue.
The crew members further informed Ms Jones that if she opted for Puerto Rico, she would have to leave with the body and arrange necessary transportation to Florida, the suit added.
She was told that relevant inland authorities might need a post-mortem, which might delay the return. Ms Jones had picked the morgue, but the lawsuit mentions that it is not where her husband’s body was kept.
When the vessel reached Florida, a Broward County sheriff’s deputy and an employee of a funeral home found out that the morgue was out of service.
Later on, they found Mr Jones’ body in walk-in drinks cooler on a palette in a bag, per the suit.
It mentions that the cooler was way too warm instead of having near-freezing temperatures usually required to store a dead body. As a result, the remains had reached advanced stages of decomposition.
The lawsuit further claims that the cruise line’s actions “stripped” the deceased of his dignity and also brought extreme trauma to his family.
Ms Jones, her three grandchildren, and two daughters are seeking $1 million in damages.
Reference: Yahoo News, Euro Weekly