Jeffrey Eisenman was on the Carnival Sunshine with his wife and children when he suffered “major heart attack” in December 2018, the Miami Herald reported on June 12.
The Pennsylvania man “died onboard while confined to the medical center of the Carnival Sunshine against his will,” said a lawsuit filed by Ira Leesfield of Miami’s Leesfield Scolaro, representing the family of Eisenman. “His family was forced to watch on in horror at his mistreatment and decline into a gruesome death.”
Carnival objected to the family’s claims.
“We are very sorry for the Eisenman family’s loss, but the scenario that is alleged in the lawsuit is not accurate,” Carnival told the Herald. “Our onboard medical team followed all proper procedures to attend to a guest who became critically ill very quickly, including liaising with the local hospital which was not equipped to handle his condition. Mr. Eisenman’s treatment plan and keeping him on the ship was formulated in consultation with his family.”
The lawsuit also alleged that the ship, while it was docked in the Turks and Caicos islands, Eisenman began vomiting and felt pain in his chest and left arm. A doctor then saw him, saying he had a “major heart attack,” the report said.
The doctor said that he might need a stent and would have to be flown to Miami for treatment as Grand Turk has no cardiac unit.
But the ship’s physician said that when the cruise liner was slated to depart Grand Turk, Eisenman couldn’t get off because someone had to be medically disembarked before him, the report said, citing the lawsuit.
The report said that his family had insurance to cover the cost of an air ambulance. They said he was held on the ship.
— New York Post (@nypost) June 13, 2019
“Inexplicably, all of their requests and pleas for help went unanswered,” the suit said. “The Carnival Sunshine left Grand Turk with Jeffrey Eisenman and his family confined onboard against their will, helpless against the willful inhumane conduct of Carnival in holding a critically ill man imprisoned in an unequipped medical center.”
The Carnival Sunshine then departed and sailed toward San Juan, Puerto Rico, with the family on board. The next day, he died, CBS Miami reported.
After the ship docked in San Juan, his family was told by officials that they couldn’t guarantee that his body would make it to the United States from Puerto Rico. His wife, Linda, and his daughter, Julie, left the ship while his son, Ryan, stayed on board with his body.
The ship made it to Cape Canaveral, Florida, about five days later.
Their lawyer said the cruise ship crew “made a very bad call” that defies the International Cruise Line Passenger Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights states that passengers have “the right to disembark a docked ship if essential provisions such as food, water, restroom facilities and access to medical care cannot adequately be provided onboard, subject only to the [crew’s] concern for passenger safety and security and customs and immigration requirements of the port,” according to Yahoo News.
He told Yahoo that on cruise ships, “someone is going to get sick, and [cruise lines] have to have a protocol other than, ‘We have to stay on schedule.’”
The industry overall “has got to be more prepared and have a greater sensitivity to the wellbeing of its passengers,” he said.