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Husband Suing Holland America Cruise Line For Treating His Wife "Like Baggage" After She Suffered A Stroke

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A husband is grieving after a cruise vacation went horribly wrong.

He says his wife's medical emergency was handled completely wrong.

Now, that man is suing the cruise line.

He says his wife was treated like baggage after she had a stroke on night one of the trip.

Lilia Gale, 65, who goes by Lisette is now confined to a nursing home in Illinois. Her husband John doesn't think she'll ever recover and come home.

Lisette cannot walk, eat, or use the bathroom on her own. Her memory, perception, and concentration skills are impaired.

This all stemmed from a stroke Lisette had on a Holland America Line cruise ship in March of 2018.

Now, the family is filing a lawsuit against the cruise line.

"I think the warning needs to go out to the public [that] you can't be going on cruises," said Gale. "No one can be. They can't handle emergencies."

That contradicts the advertisements of the cruise ship, said Gale.

The couple had just started their 2 week vacation and were on the cruise departing from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. They were having dinner with Lisette's son.

"She was joking about how she got the top of the line cabana and used my credit card and then she went…she just collapsed," described Gale. "It was awful."

What was even more awful, said Gale, was the 13 hours that followed.

Gale does credit the cruise ship for their immediate response and bringing Lisette to the infirmary on board. He said what happened after was the worst day of his life.

"They determined they were not going back to Fort Lauderdale, not going to get a helicopter, and not going to get a speedboat," said Gale. "[They were] going to divert the ship to Freeport in the Bahamas."

Gale quickly learned the airport on the island was closed. The hospital didn't have the equipment or staff needed to help his wife. The cruise had already left.

"They weren't able to do anything, or diagnose a thing," said Gale. "They maintained her, [which is] what they had been doing on the ship."

When they returned home, a doctor said the situation was hopeless and advised Gale not to operate.

Now almost a year later, Gale is looking for justice for his wife. Her life as they knew it has completely changed.

She was one a vibrant and vivacious woman, said Gale, who loved to travel. Lisette was a therapist.

"They had plenty of time to treat my wife like a human being and important to everyone," said Gale. "I think they completely treated her like baggage, getting rid of her."

Gale adds that the cruise line even billed him for $3500 before they left the island that night.

"It's a toxic pool of anger, grief, sadness all wrapped up into one," said Gale. "It's kind of immobilized me."

CBS4 reached out to Holland America Line. They declined the opportunity to comment.

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