Federal judge rules for Florida in cruise ship lawsuit

Preliminary injunction granted but stayed until July 18
Gov. Ron DeSantis surrounded by Ashley Moody, Miami-Dade County officials and cruise workers at PortMiami, April 8, 2021
Posted at 5:21 PM, Jun 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-18 18:27:20-04

TAMPA, Fla. — A federal judge has ruled in favor of Florida in its fight against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and its conditional sail order that has grounded the cruise ship industry since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday granted a preliminary injunction Friday.

The order means that the CDC cannot enforce its order against a cruise ship departing or arriving from a Florida port.

In his ruling, Merryday said "Florida is highly likely to prevail on the merits of the claim" that the CDC's order exceed its authority.

cruise ships docked at PortMiami, March 14, 2020
International and national cruise ships docked at PortMiami amid the coronavirus outbreak on March 14, 2020 in Miami.

However, the injunction has been stayed until July 18, at which time the sail order will remain as a "non-binding 'consideration,' 'recommendation' or 'guideline,'" similar to how the CDC addressed the practices of industries "such as airlines, railroads, hotels, casinos, sports venues, buses, subways and others."

Gov. Ron DeSantis and Attorney General Ashley Moody, who stood outside PortMiami in April to announce their intent to sue the federal government, praised the ruling in separate statements Friday.

"The CDC has been wrong all along, and they knew it," DeSantis said. "The CDC and the (President Joe) Biden administration concocted a plan to sink the cruise industry, hiding behind bureaucratic delay and lawsuits. Today, we are securing this victory for Florida families, for the cruise industry and for every state that wants to preserve its rights in the face of unprecedented federal overreach."

Moody also touted the ruling as "a victory for the hardworking Floridians whose livelihoods depend on the cruise industry."

"The federal government does not, nor should it ever, have the authority to single out and lock down an entire industry indefinitely," Moody said. "I am excited to see the cruise industry get sailing again, and proud to stand with Gov. Ron DeSantis against illegal federal overreach and draconian lockdown measures."