Florida Seeks to Stem the Tide in CDC Cruise Lockdown Directive Case

On Apr. 22, Florida moved for a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit contesting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) October 2020 Conditional Sailing Order spelling out the conditions under which the country’s cruise industry may reopen amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The motion explained that the order, which is in effect until Nov. 1, 2021, will cause the cruise industry to “miss out—again—on the critical summer cruising season.”

As previously reported, the complaint filed earlier this month argued that the Conditional Sailing Order falls outside the CDC’s authority, is arbitrary and capricious in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), and is an unconstitutional exercise of lawmaking by the executive branch. In the present motion, the state explained why it is likely to succeed on the merits of its claims with arguments that largely echo those set forth in the complaint.

Florida contended that it will suffer irreparable harm if the CDC is not enjoined because it has suffered, and will likely continue to suffer, millions of dollars in economic harm. Specifically, the motion pointed to lost profits, including tax revenue, and money spent by cruise line passengers at hotels, restaurants, and gas stations.

Critically, the motion pressed, the summer cruise season is approaching. Florida stressed that companies like Carnival Cruise Line may leave Florida for new, foreign homes if the industry does not reopen soon.

The filing also asserted that the balance of the equities and public interest favor preliminary injunctive relief. This is so, the state says, because local economic wellfare and joblessness are both matters within the public interest. Allegedly, the Conditional Sailing Order has stalled the industry that earned Floridians $8.1 billion in income in 2019.

Notably, on Apr. 20, Alaska moved to intervene in support of Florida. The preliminary injunction hearing is scheduled for May 12 before Judge Steven D. Merryday.

Florida is represented by its attorney general’s office, and the CDC and HHS defendants by the U.S. Department of Justice.