More than one year after the infamous Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster, the owner and operator of the cruise line is paying up.
Yesterday, an Italian judge accepted a plea agreement from Costa Crociere, the Carnival Corp. unit that oversaw the Costa Concordia. The ship capsized in January 2012 after its captain, Francesco Schettino, steered too close to shore. Per the agreement, Costa Crociere will pay $1.3 million to settle potential criminal charges concerning the accident, which killed 32 people.
The agreement means Costa Crociere won’t face a criminal trial for the accident. However, the settlement doesn’t protect it from passengers’ and crew members’ civil lawsuits.
“This is a balanced decision,” Costa Cruises lawyer Marco De Luca said after the ruling. “It is the most reasonable solution.”
Lawyers representing Costa Concordia passengers call the settlement agreement “a tragedy” and “a slap to the survivors and most of all to the relatives of the victims of the shipwreck.”
According to news reports, the prosecution is satisfied with the ruling and will not appeal, as the fine is close to the maximum allowed by law.
Meanwhile, a hearing is scheduled next week to determine whether six Costa Crociere employees, including Schettino, must stand trial. Schettino remains accused of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship. He faces up to 20 years behind bars.
For more InsideCounsel coverage of the Costa Concordia disaster, read: