Garrison Keillor’s Cruise Remains on Hold with No Refund and No Rescheduled Date

The cruise ship owned by Prairie Grand, LLC, a company founded by famed radio personality, Garrison Keillor, has been docked and on hold since the start of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic began. The vessel, the Veendam, was set to sail with 1,350 passengers for the Caribbean from Fort Lauderdale on March 18. However, Keillor’s company cancelled the trip as details on the COVID-19 crisis began to develop. Shortly after, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a “no-sail order,” which has been extended through July 24, essentially docking all cruises sailing from the U.S. Most cruise companies, such as Carnival, have allowed their customers to either request a refund or rebook with 125 percent credit. However, receiving a refund through Keillor’s Prairie Home Cruises has not been so easy, mostly because the ship is operated through a charter company. How the charter relationships work is the company rents the boat from a larger cruise corporation. Prairie Home Cruises operates their cruise through a rental from Holland America. Keillor has been less than forthcoming with passengers who are out thousands of dollars. Six weeks after the cancellation, he sent a mass email which included his personal experience regarding to sheltering in place and plans for a book he intends to write where residents of his fictional town, Lake Wobegon, collectively catch a virus from eating cheese. Keillor continued, offering to sell advice copies of the novel. Passengers who have attempted to get refunds for their tickets have reported having to push through a lot of red tape to get any response. This fact has been disappointing to the loyal following...

Coronavirus Lawsuits Begin to Flood Court Systems

The fallout from the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis has hit our nation’s legal system. It has been reported that 917 federal and state lawsuits have been filed due to the pandemic on a number of legal grounds ranging from unsafe working conditions for frontline workers to individuals and businesses facing financial difficulties. And it appears this is just the beginning. Global and national disasters regularly bring on an onslaught of legal filings, as was the case following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The number of deaths reported in the U.S. have surpassed the number of Americans killed during the Vietnam War. COVID-19 has led to more than 30 million unemployment filings, the highest since the Great Depression. One of the main categories of lawsuits being filed involve those being brought by frontline workers, such as nurses and doctors, who claim that their employers are not providing them with sufficient protective gear while working. Their lawsuits also allege that their employers are forcing them to work in unsafe work conditions, leading many of them to contract the disease from patients whose lives they are trying to save. Workplace safety issues are also a concern of those in the grocery and retail industry, as workers allege their employers are not providing them with safety gear, exposing them to the risk of contracting COVID-19. Other employment lawsuits have been filed under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act passed by Congress in March 2020. Under this act, employers were required to offer paid leave for child-care because many parents were forced to stay at home or figure out a way to work from home due...

Maritime Personal Injury Attorney Spencer Aronfeld Discusses Suing Cruise Lines in COVID-19 Cases

Under an order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it will be another three months — at least — until cruise ships will once again be able to sail from U.S. ports. In the meantime, cruise lines are dealing with a host of lawsuits filed by passengers and crew who accuse the companies of negligence in exposing them to the coronavirus. Spencer Aronfeld, a lawyer with several pending coronavirus cases, said, “Suing a cruise line for these types of cases is extraordinarily difficult.” That’s because cruise lines enjoy a number of protections. They’re not U.S. companies and not subject to health and safety regulations like the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) or the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). “The only way to really hold them responsible in a courtroom is to show a judge and a jury that their actions were unreasonable under the circumstances, and that’s a very loose term,” Aronfeld said. He and other attorneys will make the case that cruise lines ignored information about the pandemic and were negligent in failing to warn passengers. A major factor protecting cruise lines is the ticketing agreements each passenger signs, which limit how and where lawsuits can be filed. Aronfeld said companies also benefit from maritime laws written decades ago. “One of the classics,” as he called it, is the Death on the High Seas Act. It’s a century-old law that limits the amount a family can recover for funeral expenses and lost income. It applies to any deaths that occur from events that happen more than three miles offshore. “One of the challenges we’re going...

How to Shop Safely for Groceries and Food During the Coronavirus

The coronavirus (COVID-19) has many of us on edge when it comes to doing basic tasks like going grocery shopping or ordering take-out. It has become increasingly competitive at grocery stores each week to obtain essentials before inventory runs out.  On top of that, we now must worry about contracting COVID-19 while out in public. It can be a struggle to safely social distance while conducting what are essentially basic tasks. Anytime you go out in public, you run the risk of contracting the virus. It is recommended to bring Clorox wipes and hand sanitizer with you when going to the store. Make sure any surface you touch, such as your shopping cart, has been properly sanitized. Many people feel that gloves will adequately protect them. However, gloves will only work so long as you do not touch anything that has the virus on it and then touch your face. It is estimated that the coronavirus can live for a day on cardboard and up to three days on many metal and plastic surfaces, which means the groceries coming into your house could be contaminated. Disinfect your groceries. Anything that needs to be brought inside should be immediately disinfected, including items that go in the freezer. Studies have shown that the virus does not die from being contained in a freezer. If you do have to venture out in public to shop, make sure you are staying a safe distance away from everyone in the store, which is a recommended six feet. Many grocers are offering curbside pick-up and delivery services, and people are encouraged to take advantage of...

Why the Cruise Line Industry Does Not Deserve a Bailout

The coronavirus (COVID-19) has hit our nation’s economy hard with some industries being hit harder than others. Just this last week, a $2 trillion stimulus and economic relief bill was passed by Congress and signed by President Trump to help bring relief to those impacted by COVID-19. However, many argue that not all industries should be bailed out, and this includes the cruise line industry. These Miami-based companies are incorporated overseas, which should cost them their chance at U.S. taxpayer rescue. While airlines, hotels and other travel businesses deserve financial assistance during this time, the cruise ship industry does not for several reasons. According to the stimulus package, if a company wishes to be eligible to receive some of the $500 billion in aid at stake, that company must be certified as created or organized in the United States or within U.S. law, as well as having significant operations in the U.S. Most cruise companies are registered in foreign countries and not the U.S. Many of the major cruise ship companies, including Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean Cruises, MSC Cruises, and Norwegian Cruise Line, have headquarters in Miami, but they are incorporated in other countries. Carnival is registered in Panama, while Royal Caribbean is registered in Libera. Norwegian is registered in Bermuda, and MSC Cruises is based in Switzerland.  Every year, these cruise companies use an exemption under the Internal Revenue Code to avoid paying any U.S. taxes. In fact, because these companies utilize these exemptions, many of them receive refunds or post negative income tax expenses annually. While the tourism industry in Florida may receive a boost from the...
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