Plaintiffs firms prepare to sue Carnival on behalf of cruise ship passengers

One lawyer says he will seek at least $160,000 in damages per passenger

Photo courtesy of AP

Plaintiffs firms across the country are preparing to attack Carnival Corp. by filing lawsuits on behalf of passengers who were on the Costa Concordia, the Carnival-owned cruise ship that capsized more than two weeks ago and killed at least 17 people.

New York personal-injury attorney Mitchell Proner and New York lawyer Marc Bern say they plan to sue Carnival in Florida state court on behalf of seven of the ship’s passengers. According to Reuters, which received a copy of the suit, the cruise line is accused of maritime negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress and more. Proner claims on his website that he will seek at least $160,000 in damages for any passenger he represents.

Other U.S. plaintiffs firms are preparing to file similar suits. One Miami firm reportedly has at least 200 clients lined up to sue over the shipwreck. And last week, a Chicago firm filed a $100 million class action lawsuit on behalf of a Costa Concordia crew member.

Last week, Carnival’s Costa business unit announced that it had reached an agreement with international consumer groups to pay about $14,460 in damages to each uninjured passenger. But Proner and other plaintiffs lawyers say the offer is inadequate.

Nonetheless, legal experts say passengers may not be able to keep their lawsuits in U.S. courts because the contracts written into the Costa Concordia’s tickets state that passengers can only bring lawsuits in Genoa, Italy. But some lawyers say the unique circumstances of the accident may challenge U.S. courts’ tendencies to uphold such contracts.

Meanwhile, Costa Concordia Captain Francesco Schettino remains under house arrest for allegedly causing the Jan. 13 disaster and resulting deaths.

Ashley Post

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