Florida cruise ship lawsuit talks unsuccessful, mediator says

Lawsuit focused on CDC’s ‘conditional sailing order’ issued in October

Florida’s cruise lawsuit hearing could be pivotal in effort to lift CDC restrictions

Settlement talks have ended in the legal battle between Florida and the federal government about restrictions on the cruise-ship industry.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Anthony Porcelli, who has served as a mediator, said in a court filing Friday that a settlement conference was unsuccessful.

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“Despite the … good faith and concerted efforts, the settlement discussions have concluded and the parties have reached an impasse,” the filing said.

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office said last week that an impasse had been declared, but talks were held this week on Thursday and Friday, according to a court docket. U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday also held a hearing Thursday in Florida’s request for a preliminary injunction to block restrictions that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has placed on the cruise industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Merryday had not ruled as of early Friday evening, according to the docket. Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, backed by DeSantis, filed the lawsuit in April challenging restrictions that idled the industry after outbreaks aboard ships early in the pandemic in 2020.

The lawsuit focuses heavily on a “conditional sailing order” that the CDC initially issued in October with a phased approach to resuming cruise-ship operations.

The CDC has made several updates to the guidelines and said in a Monday filing that it expects cruises to resume by mid-summer.