Cruise ship fight sent to mediation

FILE - The Carnival Pride cruise ship arrives at PortMiami, Tuesday, April 7, 2020, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky) (Lynne Sladky, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

A U.S. district judge has ordered mediation in Florida’s lawsuit challenging federal restrictions that have idled the cruise ship industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.

U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday on Tuesday directed attorneys for the state and federal government to mediate the case by June 1.

He appointed Joseph Varner as the mediator. Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, backed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, filed the lawsuit last month challenging restrictions on the cruise industry imposed by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

They have pointed, in part, to the economic impact on the state and contended the CDC overstepped its legal authority with the restrictions.

But U.S. Department of Justice attorneys have argued the federal government has long had authority to regulate ships to prevent the spread of communicable diseases and that Florida lacks legal “standing” to pursue the case.