Lawsuit: Cruise line allowed passenger’s body to decompose in ship’s cooler

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A woman, along with her family, filed a lawsuit against Celebrity Cruises claiming that the cruise line stored her husband’s body in the cooler instead of the morgue after he died.

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Robert L. Jones died from a heart attack while he was on the Celebrity Equinox cruise ship in August 2022, according to the lawsuit that was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida that was obtained by CNN. Jones and his wife were traveling from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to the Caribbean.

The lawsuit claims that after Robert L. Jones died, his wife, Marilyn Jones, was told that she had two options for what they could do with her husband’s body, CNN reported. The two options reportedly were to take his body off the ship in San Juan, Puerto Rico, or store his body on the ship for six days, which would be when the ship reached the port in Fort Lauderdale.

The body was stored for about six days inside a walk-in cooler on the ship, according to The Associated Press. That cooler was used normally for drinks. The body was supposed to be stored in the morgue.

Since the body was in the cooler rather than the morgue as the lawsuit claims, the body was left “bloated and green” and it changed the family’s plan of having an open-coffin funeral, according to the AP.

Marilyn Jones, her two daughters, and three grandchildren are asking for $1 million in damages, the AP reported. The lawsuit was filed last Wednesday.

The AP said they reached out to Celebrity Cruises for comment on the lawsuit but they declined “out of respect for the family.”

The Celebrity Equinox is a year-round Caribbean cruise originating out of Fort Lauderdale, according to the AP.

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