The family of a man who died on one of the ships of Celebrity Cruises has filed a $1 million lawsuit against the company, claiming that his body was stored in a cooler rather than a morgue which made it decompose badly.
The deceased man, Robert Lewis Jones’ body was kept in a walk-in-cooler, typically used for storing beverages, for almost a week before it was handed over for funeral. Read on to know more about the development.
Florida Man’s Family Files Lawsuit Against Celebrity Cruises for Storing His Dead Body in a Cooler
Robert Lewis Jones, 78, passed away of a heart attack, aboard a Celebrity Equinox ship in August 2022 while the cruise was sailing through the Caribbean. Robert’s wife, Marilyn Jones, claims the cruise staff told her that the body would be kept safe in a morgue.
But six days later, the ship docked in Fort Lauderdale, and Marilyn found that her husband’s body had been stored inside a walk-in cooler. The family has now filed a lawsuit in Florida federal court.
“When the funeral services employee in Ft. Lauderdale was brought onto the ship to retrieve Mr. Jones’ body, his body was not located in the ship’s morgue. Instead, Mr. Jones’ body had, at some time not yet known, had been moved from the ship’s morgue to a cooler on a different floor than the ship’s morgue.,” reads the lawsuit.
“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 filing reads further.
The Family Says They Were Devoid of a Proper Funeral for Robert
As per funeral service workers in Fort Lauderdale, the body showed ‘advanced stages of decomposition and was never stored in a temperature appropriate to stop decomposition from occurring.’ As a result, the family could go for an open-coffin funeral, ‘which was a long-standing family custom and was what his family had desired,’ says the lawsuit.
When Robert died, Marilyn was given two options by the cruise crew. Either the body could be taken off at the ship’s next stop in Puerto Rico, or it could be stored in a morgue till the cruise returned to Ft. Lauderdale six days later. Marilyn says had she been told that the morgue was not working, she could have gone with the first option.
Robert’s Family is Seeking a Trial by Jury
As per the lawsuit, Robert’s family is seeking a trial by jury and $1 million in damages if charges are proven. “The reckless and careless actions and omissions of Celebrity directly and proximately caused Plaintiffs’ injuries, because if Plaintiff’s knew that there was not a working morgue on the ship, they would have had Mr. Jones’ body taken off the ship.”
“If the defendant’s crew had either kept the morgue in proper working order or inspected Mr. Jones’ body in the morgue with reasonable frequency, his body would not have decomposed to the point that a funeral director was unable to salvage his remains such that he could receive the open casket funeral and wake services,” says the filing.
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