And now, the Carnival class-action lawsuit

The filing alleges that the cruise company knew about engine problems before a fire left its Triumph liner stranded for days.

By Jason Notte Feb 21, 2013 2:35PM
The Carnival Triumph cruise ship is towed towards the dock as spectators watch at the port of Mobile, Alabama on February 14, 2013 ( Lyle Ratliff/Newscom/Reuters)An engine fire, five days stranded in the Gulf of Mexico, fights on food lines and raw sewage running down the walls weren't on the Carnival (CCL) Triumph cruise liner's original itinerary when it left port in Galveston, Texas, on Feb. 7.

A class-action lawsuit filed by passengers days after the ship was towed to its dock in Mobile, Ala., last week should have been a little easier to foresee.

CNN reported Thursday that Triumph passengers Matt and Melissa Crusan of Oklahoma filed suit on behalf of other passengers earlier this week in federal court. The suit claims that Carnival "knew or should have known that the vessel Triumph was likely to experience mechanical and/or engine issues because of prior similar issues."

Hints of legal trouble appeared before the ship even pulled into port, as a passenger posting on Reddit mentioned Carnival's offer of a compensation package while insisting conditions on the ship described in various reports weren't "nearly as bad as they're talking about." Carnival offered passengers a full refund, a voucher for a future cruise and $500 as compensation for their trouble, but the Crusans' lawyers issued a press release saying they're "committed to obtaining just compensation for the passengers of the Triumph." What's just? That all depends on a passenger's tolerance for the living conditions that the suit describes in revolting detail:

"[Passengers] were forced to sleep on deck and/or in other communal areas on the vessel, relieve themselves into buckets, bags, showers, sinks, were given spoiled or rotting food that was unfit for reasonable safe human consumption, and were generally forced to live in squalid conditions that created a severe risk of injury, illness and/or disease."

Key phrases like "sewage and/or human waste sloshed around the vessel" make the suit great reading material, but aren't what concern the plaintiffs most. The core of the issue is what the cruise line knew and when. The suit alleges that the Triumph experienced engine issues on other cruises as recently as mid-January. Also, the suit claims that, on Jan. 28, another incident damaged the ship's propulsion system and generator.

“Notwithstanding said issues, Carnival knowingly decided to embark on the subject voyage," the suit says.

On Tuesday, the Coast Guard said the fire started when oil leaking from a line running from one of the ship's engines hit a hot surface and caught fire.Carnival spokeswoman Aly Bello-Cabreriza wouldn't comment on current litigation to The Huffington Post, but noted that the Triumph did have electrical issues with its alternator that were repaired by the alternator's supplier on Feb. 2. She added that supplier and an unnamed “third-party verification organization” certified the repairs and that it shouldn't have been an issue on the cruise.

"There is no evidence at this time of any relationship between this previous issue and the fire that occurred on Feb. 10,” the spokeswoman says.

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