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Cruise liner sued for allegedly putting dead passenger in drinks cooler

Cruise liner sued for allegedly putting dead passenger in drinks cooler

78-year-old Robert L. Jones died while on a trip with Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises is being sued by a Florida family after claims that the cruise liner put their family member in a drinks cooler after his death on board which resulted in severe decomposition.

The victim, Robert L. Jones, 78, died while on board the Celebrity Equinox in August 2022.

Suffering from heart complications on the 15 August, Jones passed away and was allegedly to be stored in the ship’s morgue for six days until docking in Florida, as told to his wife Marilyn.

Unfortunately, Jones’ family doesn’t believe this to be the case and a lawsuit has been filed.

It has been told in the complaint waged against the cruise line that sometime during the trip, Jones’ body was moved to a drinks cooler on a different floor of the ship, instead.

His wife, Marilyn, and daughters - Robin Phillips and Teresa West - have alleged that they were urged to keep the body on board instead of having it removed during a stop in Puerto Rico.

Robert L. Jones, 78, died while on board the Celebrity Equinox in August 2022.
Wayleebird / Alamy Stock Photo

This is said to have led to the body being so badly decomposed that an open-casket funeral wasn’t possible to take place, which is a long-standing tradition of the family.

After being moved from the onboard morgue, the body was said to be kept in a body bag on a floor palette in a drinks cooler which wasn’t at the temperature suitable, nor was a sufficient place to store a body properly.

Now, Marilyn, her daughters, and even her grandchildren are suing the cruise line for $1 million.

Filed on 19 April in the Florida Southern District court, the lawsuit alleges that Celebrity Cruises did not store Jones' remains properly which left his body 'so far gone in the decomposition process’ that an open-casket funeral couldn’t be held.

In the lawsuit, it details how cruise workers told Marilyn that she could either have his body removed from the ship when docking at San Juan or she could have it stored properly for six days until they arrived at their final destination in Fort Lauderdale.

It reads: “Celebrity employees told Plaintiff Marilyn Jones that if she had her husband’s body taken ashore in San Juan, she would be required to stay in San Juan with his body and would have to make arrangements for transport for herself and her husband’s body back to the mainland United States.

“Plaintiff Jones was 78 years old at the time and was without any other family members on board the ship.”

The victim's family are suing the cruise line for $1 million.
Justin Kase zsixz / Alamy Stock Photo

The cruise line allegedly told the family that they had a working morgue on board that was equipped to deal with a passenger's death.

The complaint states that the cruise line recommended Marilyn to keep her husband's body on board and that she believed that his remains would be safe.

However, it wasn’t until a funeral services employee in Fort Lauderdale went to the morgue to retrieve the body that the body had been moved.

The complaint alleges that it was clear that the body was in advanced stages of decomposition which meant that it was never stored correctly in order to prevent decomposition.

The family also believes that the morgue on board the ship was not working correctly at the time of Jones’ death and that they weren’t notified of the situation or involved in the decision to move his body.

In the complaint, it states that Celebrity Cruises has had instances of deaths before and should have stored the body correctly.

Jones’ family say that the actions of the cruise line show Celebrity's indifference to 'his passing, his dignity, and his family, friends, and community’s loss, and showed an entire want of care for the safety of his remains'.

Celebrity Cruises told UNILAD: “Due to the sensitivity of the alleged facts and out of respect for the family, we decline to comment on the matter.”

Featured Image Credit: Justin Kase zsixz / Alamy Stock Photo/Wayleebird / Alamy Stock Photo

Topics: News, US News, Travel