Costa Concordia Lawsuits Piling Up

Lawsuits continue to be filed by survivors of the Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster. Most recently, several survivors filed a lawsuit in Miami, Florida, seeking $461 million in damages from Costa Crociera SpA and its parent, Miami-based Carnival Corp.

The Costa Concordia struck a rock off the coast of the Italian island of Giglio on Friday, January 13. The collision tore a 160-foot hole in the hull of the ship, and caused the vessel to capsize. The cruise ship was carrying 4,200 passengers and crew when the accident occurred. Seventeen bodies have been recovered from the ship, but 16 people, including a five-year-old Italian girl, her father, and two Americans, are missing and presumed dead. Rescue efforts were called off earlier this week after officials deemed the wrecked cruise ship too dangerous for divers.

This latest lawsuit, filed by six passengers of the doomed ship, alleges the Concordia disaster was caused by the ship’s captain, Francesco Schettino, sailing too close to the Tuscan island of Giglio in order to give a ‘salute’ to a retired admiral and former colleague. Schettino was placed under house arrest in the wake of the accident, and faces charges in Italy of manslaughter, abandoning ship and causing a shipwreck. The plaintiffs – four Americans and two Italians – also called Costa’s recent offer to uninjured passengers of $14,460 to compensate for lost luggage and psychological trauma, as well as reimbursement for travel expenses and medical expenses, “insulting,” according to a report from The Telegraph.

The plaintiffs were “in terror of catastrophic injury, death, drowning, having been placed in a situation where common sense said the vessel was sinking but the orders from the crew were to return to their cabins,” according to the complaint.

Last month, a Costa Concordia crew member filed a $100 million class action lawsuit against Costa and Carnival in federal court in Chicago. Among other things, the complaint alleges the defendants failed to carry out safety drills to prepare passengers for an accident and didn’t notify them of the danger to the ship after water began flooding the engine room.

“The defendants failed to properly and timely notify all plaintiffs on board of the deadly and dangerous condition of the cruise ship as to avoid injury and death,” the crew member said in the complaint. The passengers and crew “were abandoned by the captain.”

The Italian consumer group Codacons has also stated its intention to file a lawsuit in Miami seeking between $164,000 and $1.3 million per Concordia passenger.

According to another Telegraph report, people on Giglio are also threatening Costa and Carnival with their own lawsuit. The island relies heavily on tourism, and locals fear the site of the capsized Concordia and threats posed by a potential rupture of its fuel tanks could deter divers, snorkelers and other tourists from making trips to the Island.

“With this watery grave in the middle of the sea, people won’t want to come. It’s only for those with an interest in the macabre – the day trippers who already flock here by ferry at the weekend. I have long-standing customers who are writing to me to cancel their bookings,” one Giglio hotel owner told the Telegraph.

A spokesperson on the island told an Italian newspaper that officials there have warned Costa Cruises and Carnival that they must remove the Concordia quickly, without polluting the sea, otherwise they will file their own class action complaint. Salvage experts, however, have said it could take as long as 10 months to siphon fuel from the Concordia and remove the massive ship.

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