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American survivors of White Island eruption to seek damages from cruise line and tour operators

The American honeymooners who survived the eruption on Whakaari/White Island plan to seek damages from both the cruise line that sold them the tour, and the tour operators.

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Americans Matt and Lauren Urey spoke to 1 NEWS as New Zealand mourns the six-month mark since the disaster occurred. Source: 1 NEWS

By Audrey Malone and Paul Hobbs

Matt and Lauren Urey were in New Zealand hospitals with serious burns for two months following the eruption, which killed 21 people and injured 26 others.

“I genuinely feel we've been wronged. We weren't given enough information to make an informed decision,” Mr Urey, an engineer, said.

Lauren and Matt Urey on their wedding day. Source: Supplied

The Urey family’s lawyer, Michael Winkleman, will be filing the lawsuit within the next two weeks against White Island Tours and Royal Caribbean cruise line. 

He believes the couple have a compelling case, which he says both operators need to answer to for their actions.

Newlyweds recount how dream honeymoon turned to horror as White Island exploded

“It would have been so easy for Royal Caribbean to note: for those of you going on the excursion to White Island Tours there's a heightened risk in going with that because there's a heightened level of this volcanic activity,” Mr Winkleman said.

“Had they done that, my guess is that most people would have cancelled that tour, so I think there was a profit motive.”

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Matt and Lauren Urey plan to seek damages from the cruise line that sold them the volcano tour, as well as White Island Tours. Source: 1 NEWS

Furthermore, he believes the operators need to front up in the United States legal jurisdiction - where the couple could potentially be awarded millions of dollars in compensation.

“I think there is an opportunity to be able to avoid the really draconian or restrictive laws of New Zealand, in an effort in bringing those cases in the United States.”

This is not the only legal action Royal Caribbean is facing.

A family group of an Australian victim has also confirmed it will be taking action against the Miami-based cruise line.