Viking Cruises in class-action lawsuit following Molde LOP

Hustadvika, Norway 20190323. Cruise ship Viking Sky drifting towards land after suffering engine failure in windy conditions off the west coast of Norway. Credit: Frank Einar Vatne/Scanpix Norway/Press Association Images

Law firm Libcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman has filed a class action lawsuit against Viking Cruises following the Viking Sky loss-of-power incident, which injured 36 passengers.

As the vessel lost power in gale force winds, a subsequent investigation by the Norwegian Maritime Authority determined, the violent rocking motion of the vessel caused sloshing in the lubricating oil tanks, and a shortage in supply of lubricating oil prompted an alarm and subsequent engine shutdown.

Filed in the Superior Court of the State of California and representing potentially 1,000 plaintiffs, the lawsuit accuses Viking of negligence, after the decision was made to sail into the path of a ‘bomb’ cyclone (whereupon atmospheric pressure suddenly drops by more than 24 millibars in 24 hours).

“As forecast by numerous weather forecasting agencies, by the early morning of Saturday, 23 March 2019, the storm 10 gale force winds and rough seas were battering the vessel so severely that passengers were unable to stand in their staterooms and were being thrown out of their beds; causing various injuries to passengers, including plaintiffs [Axel and Lauren] Freudmann,” the wording of the lawsuit stated.

The cruise ship embarked on the voyage, through a notoriously difficult area of sea, “despite the consensus by numerous weather forecasting agencies’ warning of extremely severe winds of storm 10 gale force capabilities expected in the vessel’s intended and actual path,” the complaint said.

It is worth noting that other vessels, including Hurtigruten tourist vessel Coastal Express, had cancelled sailings on the route earlier that day. During the LOP, the vessel drifted within 100 m of nearby rocks. “…. Due to the defendant’s negligence, the vessel lost power leaving the vessel adrift to be battered by high seas and winds as it drifted towards dangerous reefs,” said the wording of the lawsuit.

“Hundreds of passengers, including plaintiffs Freudmann, were subjected to hours of terror, unsanitary conditions, lack of ventilation, and trauma as they feared for their lives a result of the cruise traveling through extremely severe – all of which could have been easily avoided if defendants Viking simply waited to sail until after the severe winter storm passed or rerouted the ship so that the passengers were not exposed to the dangerous weather conditions,” asserts the complaint.

“As a result of defendant’s Viking’s negligence, passengers sustained physical and emotional injuries.”

On 25 March, two days after passengers were evacuated from the vessel, Viking Cruises owner Torsten Hagen issued an apology to passengers, “The past few days have been stressful and hectic for both guests and crew alike. I would like to personally apologise for what our guests experienced,” he said.

“I would also like to say how impressed and grateful I am for the efforts of the national rescue services, rescue personnel, local authorities, and the people along the Møre coast, and thank them for the concern and generosity they have showed our guests.”