More Costa Concordia Passengers Join U.S. Lawsuit

Even more Costa Concordia passengers are joining in a U.S. lawsuit against Carnival Corp. The luxury liner is accused of negligence and fraud.

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 ship’s hull, 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.

Now, dozens of survivors have joined in the Florida lawsuit, said International Business Times (IBT). A total of 38 passengers are now suing for about $528 million. As we’ve mentioned, the lawsuit was originally filed by six passengers seeking $460 million in compensation from Carnival Cruise Lines.

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.

Passengers were originally required to agree to the offer by this week; however, the offer has been extended to March 31, 2012, said IBT. “The families of deceased and missing victims and guests who were injured will be covered under a separate proposal based on their individual circumstances,” the cruise line said, wrote MSNBC.

Most recently, we wrote that passengers suing the owners of the downed Costa Concordia cruise ship added charges to their U.S. lawsuit. According to a statement, “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.” The statement discussed terrified passengers who were 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.

The lawsuit claims the liner committed fraud by saying it followed all safety regulations, said IBT. As a matter-of-fact, passengers have said that the online agreement they accepted at ticket purchase, did not provide complete details about on-board safety.

“Plaintiffs found themselves in a listing, capsizing, sinking vessel without communication, direction or help from the captain and misdirection from the crew from approximately 9:45 p.m. to approximately 11 p.m. and were left to fend for themselves,” the lawsuit said, according to MSNBC, wrote IBT. A lead plaintiff attorney pointed out that the “outrageous and reckless … nature of the conduct” and the liner’s not providing safety features, makes the contract null and void, said MSNBC.

Passengers involved the lawsuit are from the United States, Italy, Venezuela, China, Canada, Germany, Korea, and Kazakhstan, the Maritime Executive pointed out, wrote IBT. As we’ve said, in France, passengers have filed legal complaints in courts in France; in Germany, 19 people have filed criminal charges against Francesco Schettino, the ship’s captain, who remains under house arrest and faces charges of manslaughter and abandoning ship before all the ship’s passengers were evacuated. Schettino admitted responsibility for the crash, but blames the liner’s faulty equipment.

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