The family of Jeffrey Eisenman, a 65-year-old passenger on the Carnival Sunshine, alleges in a lawsuit that the world’s largest cruise company wouldn’t let him off of the ship after he suffered a heart attack last December. Eisenman died on the way to another port.
Eisenman suffered a serious heart attack while the ship was docked at Grand Turk in the Turks and Caicos Islands on Dec. 3, according to a suit filed Wednesday in Miami federal court. Carnival’s doctor said Eisenman would need a stent implanted and that he should be flown to Miami because Grand Turk’s hospital wasn’t equipped with a cardiac unit.
Just before the ship’s 4 p.m. departure, the Eisenman family was told he couldn’t leave and the ship set sail for San Juan. But the family had purchased insurance that would cover an air ambulance, according to the suit.
A representative for Carnival said the Miami-based company was sorry for the Eisenman family’s loss, but the scenario alleged in their lawsuit isn’t accurate.
“Our onboard medical team followed all proper procedures to attend to a guest who became critically ill very quickly, including liaising with the local hospital which was not equipped to handle his condition,” the company said in a statement. “Mr. Eisenman’s treatment plan and keeping him on the ship was formulated in consultation with his family.”
Eisenman died overnight on the ship, but the family says their ordeal didn’t end there. Carnival told the Eisenmans that his corpse couldn’t be removed in Puerto Rico because the line couldn’t guarantee the body would be returned promptly from the hurricane-ravaged island. Eisenman’s wife and daughter left the ship in Puerto Rico, while his son stayed aboard, accompanying the body back to the continental U.S., according to the suit.
The Eisenmans allege the cruise line was negligent in not appreciating the severity of Eisenman’s condition and evacuating him quickly.
Carnival shares dropped as much as 1.3% to $52.69 on Thursday. The stock was up 8.3% this year through Wednesday’s close, compared with a 15% gain for the S&P 500 Index.
Cruise lines have personnel specifically trained to handle critical unexpected incidents, according to the Cruise Line International Association. The industry doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all approach to care, which will vary depending on the situation, according to the group’s website.
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