Viking Cruises is facing a class action lawsuit from American passengers who were on Viking Sky, the ship that suffered an engine failure in the middle of a storm off the coast of Norway on March 23.
The passengers are seeking US$10 million in damages from Viking Cruises, according to Attorney Michael Winkleman.
But Mr Winkleman says that’s not enough compensation for nearly one thousand people who were stranded and injured on the Viking Sky cruise ship in March.
The captain had sent out a May Day message that was followed by a dramatic rescue of 1,300 passengers and crew who were stranded in rough seas.
There were 20 people injured in the incident, which had the ship tilting back and forth, with furniture sliding across the room, while it was pushed towards the notorious jagged reefs of Hustadvika.
Five helicopters were deployed to airlift 400 passengers and the remaining passengers and crew managed to dock safely at the Norwegian port of Molde, when the ship regained power the following morning.
The class-action lawsuit was filed in the Los Angeles County Superior Court on Wednesday, individually and on behalf of other passengers.
The lawsuit claims that the cruise line “negligently sailed through notoriously perilous waters into the path of a bomb cyclone,” despite severe weather warnings.
According to the lawsuit, weather forecasts warned of “an intense cyclone” as early as March 16 that would threaten the waters off of western Norway on March 23 and 24.
The forecasts predicted “extremely severe wind gusts” that could exceed 75 mph per hour, the suit states, yet The Viking Sky set sail from Tromso, Norway, on March 21.
“After the vessel left Tromso, Norway, the passengers were not informed of the severity of the weather system the cruise was intending on sailing into,” the lawsuit states. “Passengers had no idea they were being subjected to a historic winter weather event.”
The lawsuit also claims the passengers were subjected to “hours of terror, unsanitary conditions, lack of ventilation and trauma” as the cruise line attempted to launch a “high-risk evacuation,” airlifting more than 400 people hundreds of feet into a helicopter amid hurricane-force winds.
Slow recovery for passengers
Axel and Lauren Freudmann, a couple from New Jersey who were on board Viking Sky, is joined by Daniel and Shannon Flewelling, a Connecticut couple in the class action lawsuit.
“We were in a situation where moment to moment, we didn’t know if we would make it,” Shannon Flewelling told ABC News in an interview.
The couple also said the ordeal took a physical and emotional toll that continues to haunt them.
The couple reportedly both came down with the flu within days of arriving home.
Daniel Flewelling suffered complications and has been hospitalized ever since. He is still on a respiration and feeding tube and was recently moved to a hospital for acute care and rehabilitation, his wife said.
Doctors now say he could make a full recovery but it could take up to a year.
“I’ve spent almost the last four weeks of my life using up all my sick time and my vacation being by his side for weeks, not knowing if he was going to make it or not,” Shannon Flewelling told ABC News. “He is self-employed, but we don’t have that income right now.”
Shannon Flewelling speaks on Good Morning America. Source: ABC News.
No Australian passengers have joined the action.