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Widow Suing Cruise Line, Alleging It Let Her Husband's Body Decompose After He Died
The family of a man who died on a cruise ship is suing for allegedly mishandling his body after he died on the ship.
Marilyn Jones and her family are seeking $1 million in damages from Celebrity Cruises for suffering “extreme emotional trauma,” the lawsuit states.
Both in their late 70s, the now-widow was married to Robert Jones for 55 years before he died of a heart attack on Aug. 15, 2022, while onboard the Celebrity Equinox.
The two set sail on Aug. 13 from Florida for an eight-day cruise along the Caribbean.
Two days after their journey began, Robert died of a heart attack.
Cruise line staff allegedly stored his body for nearly a week inside a walk-in cooler used for beverages instead of a properly chilled morgue as promised, the lawsuit continues.
Following his death, crewmembers allegedly gave Mrs. Jones two options when her husband died. She had to choose between taking his body off at the next stop, Puerto Rico, or storing his body in the morgue until the ship docked back in Fort Lauderdale in six days.
Passenger deaths are not uncommon, so most large cruise ships have makeshift morgues, ABC News reports.
Jones picked the morgue because of logistics. Crews informed her that she would have to go with the body, and arrange transportation for her and the body if she chose to get off in Puerto Rico, the lawsuit states.
Cruise line crews also informed her that there could be delays in getting back to Florida if she got off in Puerto Rico because the coroner’s office sometimes requires an autopsy.
The lawsuit claims crewmembers urged her to keep the body on the ship and assured her they would preserve his body until they got back to Florida, The Washington Post reports.
The widow chose to store his body in what she hoped to be a morgue because she was traveling alone.
The Body Found In Walk-In Beverage Cooler
When the ship docked in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, a funeral home employee and a Broward County official didn’t find the body in the morgue and found the morgue was out of service, the lawsuit claims.
Instead, they retrieved Mr. Jones’ body in a walk-in beverage cooler in a bag on a palette, which was not cold enough to keep the body from rotting.
The lawsuit says when the officials found his body, it was in the advanced stages of decomposition.
The body was bloated and green, so the family could not have an open-casket funeral.
“[This] was a long-standing family custom and what his family had desired,” the lawsuit says.
Travel Noire reached out to Celebrity Cruises for comment. They did not immediately respond at the time of this report.
This story is developing.