A honeymooning Virginia couple who suffered severe burns when New Zealand’s massive White Island volcano erupted late last year has filed suit against Royal Caribbean Cruises and an excursion company, according to a new report.
Newlyweds Matthew and Lauren Urey were on a day trip to White Island from the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Ovation when the volcano went off.
They sustained burns to 54 and 23 percent of their bodies respectively, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday in the US District Court in Miami, obtained by CNN.
The volcano blew its top on Dec. 9. 2019, killing 21 people, and leaving others with severe injuries. Forty-seven people were visiting the island at the time.
In the lawsuit, the couple alleges that neither the cruise line nor the excursion company, ID Tours New Zealand Limited, ever informed them about the potential dangers of visiting the volcano.
The cruise line’s shore excursion brochure explained that White Island, located on the east coast of New Zealand’s north island, is “one of the most active volcanoes in the world,” according to the suit.
But the dangers weren’t obvious to the couple, who argued that “an ‘active’ volcano is defined as a volcano that has had at least one eruption during the past 10,000 years.”
The lawsuit said that the couple was unaware of increased volcanic activity at White Island, or that the volcano had erupted “multiple times” in the past 10 years.
The cruise line also failed to notify the couple of a 5.9-magnitude earthquake that occurred about two weeks earlier, with an epicenter located about 6.2 miles northeast of the volcano, according to the suit.
The newlyweds are demanding judgment for all damages recoverable under the law and a trial by jury.
“The applicable maritime law holds that Royal Caribbean has a well-defined legal duty to warn its passengers of known dangers,” the couple’s attorney, Michael Winkleman, said in a statement obtained by CNN. “As the Complaint alleges, Royal Caribbean egregiously breached this duty to warn.”
In a statement, Royal Caribbean told the network, “We continue to support the needs of those affected by this tragic incident. We respectfully decline further comment while the investigation is still proceeding.”
ID Tours New Zealand Limited did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.
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