Costa Concordia Passengers Add Charges To U.S. Lawsuit

Passengers suing the owners of the downed Costa Concordia cruise ship are adding charges to their U.S. lawsuit. The Costa Concordia struck a rock off the coast of the Italian island of Giglio suffering a collision that tore a 160-foot hole in the hull of the ship, which caused the vessel to capsize. Some 4,200 passengers and crew were on board when the luxury liner crashed, killing 32; 15 remain missing and are presumed dead.

The lawsuit, which is in a Florida state court—the cruise operators are based there—included 39 passengers who all seek individual damages for losses and injuries specific to each of them, according to their attorney, said AFP. The Costa Concordia is owned by Costa Crociere SpA, a subsidiary of Miami-based Carnival Corp.

According to a statement issued yesterday, “The plaintiffs will seek punitive damages as a result of the nature of the conduct of the Costa Concordia’s officers and staff, which demonstrated a reckless disregard for human life and property,” wrote AFP. The statement discussed passengers who were terrified and left without guidance in a horrific situation all while the ship’s captain was safely escaping in a lifeboat, clothing dry and in possession of his luggage.

Worse, “Once the surviving passengers reached land, their ordeal was far from over, because Carnival failed to offer them the barest courtesies and assistance, leaving them in a country where most were aliens, with only the clothes on their back, no money, and no passports,” the statement continued, according to the AFP.

Originally, the lawsuit was filed by six passengers seeking $460 million in compensation from Carnival Cruise Lines, said the AFP. Several consumer associations announced plans to bring a class action against the liner despite the firm’s offer to pay passengers more than $14,000 each. The Costa Crociere and survivor advocacy groups came to an agreement in which about 3,000 survivors will receive 11,000 euros each, as well as cruise costs and expenses; however, other legal claims continue to be made against the vessels’ parent companies.

In France, numerous passengers rejected the $13,500 deal and have filed legal complaints in courts in France; in Germany, 19 people have filed criminal charges against Francesco Schettino, the ship’s captain. Meanwhile, Captain Francesco Schettino—who is under house arrest and facing charges of manslaughter and abandoning ship before all the ship’s passengers were evacuated—admitted responsibility for the crash, but blames the liner’s faulty equipment, wrote The AFP.

We recently wrote that people on Giglio are 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…. I have long-standing customers who are writing to me to cancel their bookings,” one Giglio hotel owner told the Telegraph. Rescue efforts were recently called off after officials deemed the wreckage too dangerous for divers.

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

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