Family awarded $3.38M for Royal Caribbean passenger’s death

Royal Caribbean Cruises is ordered to pay $3.38 MILLION in damages to the family of a 70-year-old man who died of a heart attack in his room after visiting the ship’s doctor complaining of feeling unwell

  • Richard Puchalski, 70, was with his family on Explorer of the Seas off the Alaskan coast in July 2016 
  • Puchalski went to the cruise infirmary and complained of shortness of breath 
  • The doctor on staff, Amanda Saunders, diagnosed Puchalski with a ‘septal infarction’ and gave him medication, according to the lawsuit
  • An hour after Puchalski returned to his room, he collapsed of a heart attack and died
  • Jurors ruled that the company staff made medical errors that led to the fatal heart attack 

A federal jury says Royal Caribbean Cruises owes $3.38million to the family of a passenger who died during an Alaskan cruise.

The jury returned its verdict Thursday in Miami federal court.

Court records show Richard Puchalski was with his family on the Explorer of the Seas in 2016. 

A civil complaint says the Wisconsin man, who booked the trip to celebrate his 70th birthday, visited the ship’s infirmary with shortness of breath and later collapsed after being treated and sent back to his cabin. 

The complaint says the ship’s medical staff made errors that led to Puchalski’s heart attack being fatal.

Richard Puchalski, 70, died while on the Explorer of the Seas cruise operated by Royal Caribbean off the Alaskan coast on July 31,2016

Royal Caribbean was ordered to pay his family $3.38million after a jury determined the medical staff on board made errors just before Puchalski’s death

Jurors found Royal Caribbean to be 70 percent at fault for the approximately $34,000 in medical expenses and $4.8 million in loss of companionship and pain and suffering.

Royal Caribbean representatives say they plan to appeal the decision.

‘Until the cruise line industry makes the long-overdue, necessary changes to the standard of care, more families will suffer these life changing tragedies, and we will continue to file these lawsuits and present to juries these obvious cases of negligence,’ Michael Haggard, a lawyer for Puchalski’s family, told the Miami Herald.

A spokesperson for the company said: ‘We respectfully disagree with the outcome of this case. We are considering our legal options, and we intend to appeal the decision.’

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According to the lawsuit, Puchalski went to the infirmary of the Explorer of the Seas cruise ship on July 31, 2016 and complained he was suffering from shortness of breath.

The doctor on duty, Amanda Saunders, diagnosed Puchalski with ‘a septal infarction.’

A septal infarction is dead tissue on the septum, the wall of tissue which separates the heart’s right ventricle from the left ventricle.

Saunders gave Puchalski medication and sent him back to his room, according to the lawsuit.

An hour later, Puchalski collapsed to the floor of his cabin.    

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