The biggest lawsuit to arise over the sinking of the Italian cruise liner, the Costa Concordia, was launched in a New York court this week. The suit seeks $400 million from Carnival Corp. and Costa Crociere for "serious negligence."
Thirty-two people died in the Jan. 13 tragedy when the ship ran aground off the Italian island of Giglio in the Tuscan Bay. The suit is being launched partly on behalf of the family of a Hungarian musician who died in the tragedy, Sandor Feher. Mr. Feher was known to have been helping others onto lifeboats that night and somehow did not manage to get to safety himself. His body is one of 30 that have been recovered.
The Wall Street Journal's European edition noted the suit also represents all other Hungarians on the ship that night; there were 10 others, all of whom survived. Lawyer Peter Ronai of Ronai and Ronai LLP said that they are not buying the official reasons given for the ship's demise.
“The corporation is trying to paint the picture that the captain is the one responsible, to get away with the accident,” Mr. Ronai told the Wall Street Journal. “These people died because the corporation didn’t follow safety procedures.”
Captain Francesco Schettino awaits trial
The ship's captain, Francesco Schettino, awaits his trial on multiple charges, including causing a shipwreck and abandoning his ship before all passengers were evacuated. He has denied being fully at fault and claims that he was not even in control of the bridge when the ship hit the reef. However, he is being accused of ordering the ship close to shore to 'salute' a retired former colleague who lives on the island.
Currently the ship, which did not fully sink but listed to starboard, with most of the starboard side now submerged, is being refloated by Titan Salvage of the U.S. and Micoperi of Italy. They expect to have the Costa Concordia refloated by January and intend to tow her to an as yet undecided Italian port to be salvaged.
Mr. Ronai explained why the sum being sought in the lawsuit was so large. “Why are we going for so much money? This is the only way to punish these big firms, to hit them where it hurts.”