The first of what will surely be many lawsuits against the companies responsible for the sinking of the Costa Concordia cruise liner have started. Two U.S. law firms are planning to sue on behalf of the passengers of the cruise ship.
Last Friday, eleven people were killed when the Costa Concordia sank off the shores of Tuscany, Italy. Twenty-one people are still missing, and more than 4,000 passengers and crew members had to be evacuated in the middle of the night.
The firms will try to get passengers compensated for medical care, loss of earnings and psychological trauma, according to the BBC. Currently, 110 passengers have been listed in the suit, and the firm hopes to get up to $1.2 million each for those injured the worst.
Earlier in the week, the Italian consumer protection association Codacons said it was filing a class action suit on behalf of the passengers with the aim of getting each at least $160,000. As of Wednesday, 70 passengers had already joined the suit.
As stipulated by the cruise-line's ticketing contract, all legal actions must be taken in Genoa, Italy because the Concordia never touched U.S. shores. However, the American law firm Proner & Proner has targeted Costa's parent company, Carnival Cruise Lines, and is apparently going to initiate a suit in Miami, Florida. Carnival is based in Doral, Florida, which is in Miami-Dade county.
Along with Codacons, we have formed an association and our firms are collectively going to be filing a suit in Miami, by Wednesday next week, on behalf of all the victims of the Costa Concordia disaster, lawyer Mitchell Proner told the British news outlet.
Costa and Carnival have both placed all the blame on Captain Francesco Schettino, who made an unauthorized maneuver in steering the cruise vessel toward Giglio island, where he hit the submerged rock that ended up sinking the ship an hour later. But even if Schettino, who has been charged with manslaughter and is under house arrest, is deemed culpable by a court in the town of Grosseto the cruise companies would still be responsible for damages.
The Concordia was insured for about $500 million, which could go to covering the suits. But Costa is also facing a number of other significant financial losses, including the estimated $90 million loss resulting from the temporary decommissioning of the ship and the potential loss of business that could follow the tragedy.
The company has responded to the suits, but said that its current priorities are elsewhere.
The company understands those concerns and will respond in due course, but for now, it wants to concentrate on dealing with the immediate tragedy, Costa stated.
As an initial gesture, it has already sent letters to all those passengers on board asking them to detail their expenses and any costs they might have incurred so reimbursements can be made.
Crew members of the ship will also be able to sue, according to John H. Hickey, a maritime trial attorney in Miami, and non-injured passengers should be able to receive some compensation for the canceled vacation.