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Costa Concordia Survivors File Lawsuits

Hundreds of passengers from the Costa Concordia, and close to 1,000 businesses from the island where the ship ran aground, are suing Carnival Corporation after the January 13, 2012, accident, which resulted in 32 fatalities. More than 4,000 passengers and crewmembers were aboard the Costa Concordia vessel when it hit submerged rocks and capsized near the Tuscan island of Gilgio. Reports have indicated that “captain error” is to blame.

The many allegations against Carnival range from safety violations, negligence, loss of business (by local business owners, relying primarily on tourism), fraudulent misrepresentation, intentional infliction of emotional district, and recklessness—particularly in performing “sail-by salutes.” Sail-by-salutes are a long-standing practice, where the captain directs the ship close to shore to salute those on the land, sometimes the crewmembers’ families. Costa Concordia has been reluctant to admit that its ships engage in this practice, which many have deemed unsafe. Without admitting to doing so, Costa Concordia chief executive, Pier Luigi Foschi, has defended what he refers to as “tourist navigations” in testimony provided to an Italian parliamentary committee, stating that the practice of performing “sail-by-salutes” “enriches the cruise product.”

One lawsuit, filed recently in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on behalf of the Warrick family (consisting of three siblings, ages 18, 20, and 22) is seeking damages of more than $75,000.00 per person, significantly more than the $14,000.00 offered by Costa Concordia to survivors immediately after the accident. The Warrick plaintiffs declined Costa Concordia’s offer, stating that the amount would not even cover their out-of-pocket expenses, let alone account for their emotional distress.

There are some legal obstacles, jurisdictional issues to start with, that could force the plaintiffs to sue the company in Italy, where the cruise ship ran aground. Miami-based Carnival is the parent company of Costa Concordia, headquartered in Genoa, Italy, and which operated the ship at issue. Though the ship never docked in a U.S. port, Costa Concordia did maintain a U.S. website, which the Warrick family, among others, used to purchase their tickets. U.S. citizens have several reasons to file suit in the U.S., as opposed to Italy: 1) Italian law does not allow for contingency-based attorneys’ fees or class-action suits, which would make litigation cost prohibitive; and, 2) claims for pain and suffering and emotional distress are more difficult to prove under Italian law. Costa Concordia’s attorneys, on the other hand, have made it clear that they believe this to be a matter with no real ties to the United States. Time will tell, but it seems plaintiffs have an uphill battle before them.

If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident, contact Mike Agruss Law, for a free consultation. Mike Agruss Law, represents individuals and families who have suffered an injury or loss due to an accident. Mike Agruss Law, will handle your personal injury case quickly, will advise you every step of the way, and will not hesitate to go to trial for you. This litigation strategy will provide you with the best possible compensation.

Lastly, Mike Agruss Law, does not get paid attorney’s fees unless we win your case. Our no-fee promise is that simple. Therefore, you have nothing to risk when you hire our Chicago personal injury law firm–just the opportunity to seek justice.

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