Passengers of the Costa Concordia and businesses affected when the Carnival cruise ship ran aground have sued the Miami-based Carnival Corporation, seeking millions of dollars in damages.
Plaintiffs Believe Carnival is Responsible
Investigators believe that the Costa Concordia struck a reef while passing Giglio Island, an island off of Italy’s Tuscan coast. The island is part of a European marine sanctuary. The accident resulted in 32 deaths. Evidence suggests that the cruise ship was sailing too close to the island.
Carnival is the world’s largest cruise line. According to the plaintiffs’ lawsuits, Carnival is the parent company of Costa, the cruise ship operator. Therefore, Carnival is ultimately responsible for the recklessness, negligence or safety violations that may have contributed to the accident that occurred on January 13. The Costa Concordia was carrying 4,229 passengers at the time of the crash.
Edward Ricci filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Giglio Island businesses which were affected by the incident. He claims that the accident has deterred visitors to the popular tourist destination. Further, the accident polluted the environmentally sensitive coastline and has diminished property values.
Although the Costa subsidiary is based in Italy, Ricci argues that, as a Carnival brand, Costa is technically run by the Miami-based Carnival Corporation. Following the incident, Carnival conducted a massive audit of its safety practices.
According to Ricci, the crash could have been prevented by implementing more stringent training of officers, promoting safer operation of the cruise ships and ceasing the practice of sailing dangerously close to shorelines.
At least four other related lawsuits have been filed in federal and state courts. One lawsuit represents 155 passengers from 14 countries.
The ship’s captain, Francesco Schettino, is currently being investigated on charges of manslaughter and failing to communicate with maritime authorities. He is also suspected of abandoning ship. A hearing on these charges is scheduled to take place in an Italian court on October 15.
Carnival Insists Costa is Separate Company
In court documents filed by Carnival, the cruise company insists that the Costa line is a separate corporate entity. Therefore, Carnival alleges, any lawsuits related to the crash should be filed in Italy, where Costa is based. Carnival’s lawyers insist that the company does not manage the day-to-day activities of Costa. Further, when the passengers purchased their tickets, they agreed to a “forum clause,” which specified that any legal action against the company must be pursued in Italy.
The question of ownership and management of Costa is unclear. Costa is a subsidiary of a Carnival plc, which is based in London. The London-based company seems to be separate from the Miami-based company, but they share the same top executives and board of directors. The two Carnival companies also work together as a “single economic enterprise,” according to court documents. A company named Costa Cruise Lines, Inc. is based in Hollywood, Florida and released statements following the accident.
A Carnival representative stated that the company will not offer further comment due to the pending litigation.
The ship is still located off the coast of Giglio, although Italian officials believe that the wreckage can be cleared in the spring. Although the wreckage has had a negative impact on local hotels, there has been an increase in the number tourists taking day trips to view the overturned ship. Some local companies are capitalizing on this “disaster tourism” by offering boat tours to get a closer view of the wreckage.
This article was written by Carrie Green on behalf of SanMateoDUILaw.com. Accidents causing injuries are a serious matter, and victims should seek compensation.