The family of a man who died at sea is suing Celebrity Cruises, alleging that the man’s body was not properly stored on the ship and was found in a beverage cooler.
According to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, Robert L. Jones, 76, died around Aug. 15, 2022, on board the cruise after having a "cardiac event." Jones’ family said they were given the option of dropping off Jones’ body in San Juan, Puerto Rico, or waiting several more days for the cruise to reach the continental U.S.
In the lawsuit, the family says they opted to wait. On Aug. 21, 2022, the cruise arrived in Broward County, Florida. The lawsuit says that when funeral service employees arrived, they discovered Jones’ body had been moved to a different cooler on a different floor than the ship’s morgue.
The lawsuit said that the onboard morgue was not working properly at the time of Jones’ death.
The lawsuit also alleges that the body was not stored at a proper temperature to prevent decomposition.
It also added that his body was lying in a cooler on a pallet in a bag.
"Mr. Jones’ body was so far gone in the decomposition process that the funeral home staff in Ft. Lauderdale was unable to salvage his remains enough to be suitable for an open casket wake and funeral, which was a long-standing family custom and was what his family had desired," the lawsuit stated.
Jones’ family is asking for $1 million in compensatory damages.
Royal Caribbean Group, the parent company of Celebrity Cruises, declined to comment.
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