Hundreds of passengers who were onboard the ill-fated Costa Concordia, as well as thousands of businesses located on the Italian island where the cruise ship capsized in January, have filed U.S. lawsuits against Carnival Corp. for millions of dollars in damages. The suit claims the Miami-based company that owns the Italian Costa brand is ultimately responsible for negligence that caused the accident that killed 32 people.
After the shipwreck, litigation experts speculated that passengers wouldn’t be able to pursue litigation against Carnival in the U.S. because of a forum clause on their tickets stating that ticketholders must bring lawsuits in Genoa, Italy, where Carnival’s Costa Crociere subsidiary is located. But so far, that hasn’t deterred plaintiffs lawyers from filing suits against Carnival in federal and state courts. They claim Costa Crociere and all of Carnival’s other brands answer to Carnival’s Miami headquarters. Additionally, plaintiffs lawyers say Italian courts would take years longer to resolve litigation and wouldn’t allow class actions.
One lawsuit seeks to represent a class of tourist-related businesses on the Italian island where the Costa Concordia crashed. The suit claims the disaster discouraged visitors, polluted local waters and lowered property values. Other suits representing Costa Concordia passengers claim Carnival could have prevented the disaster by improving training of its ships’ officers and insisting on safer operations onboard.
Meanwhile, Carnival says the Costa line of cruise ships is a separate corporate entity that it doesn’t manage on a day-to-day basis.
“This is an Italian dispute and should be tried in an Italian court,” Thad Dameris, a lawyer representing Carnival in the case involving the island businesses, told the Associated Press. “This case has no real connection to the United States.”
For more InsideCounsel stories about the Costa Concordia wreck and ensuing litigation, read: