Carnival Cruise Employees Accused Of Refusing To Let Man Off Ship For Medical Care Following Heart Attack

The lawsuit states that 65-year-old Jeffrey Eisenman suffered a heart attack on December 3 while the Carnival Sunshine ship was docked in Grand Turk, The Miami Herald reports.

Eisenman reportedly began vomiting and feeling pain along his left arm and in his chest and was taken to the medical area of the ship, where he was seen by the cruise's doctor. After assessing Eisenman, the doctor told his family that Eisenman had suffered a "major heart attack" and would need treatment that could not be obtained on the ship.

The lawsuit says that the doctor advised that Eisenman needed a stent in his heart and told the family to fly Eisenman to Miami, where a cardiac care unit is located. The lawsuit says the conversation took place around 2 p.m. local time while the ship was scheduled to leave Grand Turk at 4 p.m.

Close to 4 p.m., the doctor reportedly told the family that someone else had to be medically evacuated ahead of Eisenman and that he could not be taken to Miami at that time. According to the Herald, Eisenman's wife, Linda Eisenman, told crew members that her family had purchased trip insurance which allowed for an air evacuation.

"His wife had purchased medevac insurance so if there was an unexpected event, she would be covered for that so she had the insurance and she was literally pleading with the crew to call in evacuation so he could get off the ship and get the care he needs," Ira Leesfield, the family's attorney, told WPLG-TV.

The lawsuit states that the Sunshine left port in Grand Turk anyway, keeping Jeffrey Eisenman on board as the ship embarked on a trip to its next port in San Juan, Puerto Rico, roughly 21 hours away by sea.

"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 lawsuit says, according to the Herald.

According to Leesfield, Eisenman's "best and only" opportunity to receive potentially life-saving medical care was while the ship was docked in Grand Turks and he could be airlifted to a hospital. "Once they headed out to sea, he was doomed," Leesfield told the tv station.

Einsenman died during the night as the ship made its way to San Juan, but even after the cruise arrived, the family was informed that Eisenman's body could not be removed from the boat. The reasoning given by the Sunshine's crew, Bloomberg reports, was that the cruise line could not promise that Eisenman's body would be delivered back to the United States in a timely fashion due to Puerto Rico's ongoing recovery from Hurricane Maria.

At that time, Linda Eisenman and her daughter, Julie Eisenman, departed the ship. However, Eisenman's son, Ryan Eisenman, remained on the ship to stay close to his father's body.

According to Leesfield, Eisenman's body was kept in the ship morgue until the cruise liner docked at Port Canaveral, the final destination for the trip.

The family says the crew was negligent in caring for Eisenman and caused emotional distress for them as he suffered after the heart attack.

"His family was forced to watch on in horror at his mistreatment and decline into a gruesome death," the lawsuit says.

When contacted by Bloomberg, Carnival said the company did not have a comment, but that the cruise operator was looking into the incident.
Carnival cruise ship
The Carnival Sensation cruise ship is seen at PortMiami on April 18, 2019 in Miami, Florida. Reports indicate that Carnival Corporation repeatedly broke environmental laws even during its first year of being on probation after being convicted of systematically violating environmental laws. Getty/Joe Raedle