Aronberg & Aronberg – Costa Cruise Case in Italy

As promised, here is an update to the Italian cruise ship crash incident that has been dominating headlines in all hemispheres of the earth this week. To best understand anything that will happen over the coming weeks, we have to make sure that we have accounted for all of the facts in the case. Below is a short summary of the most important pieces of information relating to this crash that will help dictate the legal debacles which are sure to characterize the coming months (and years).


Location of Incident: Off the Tuscan coast of Italy
Date of Incident: Friday, January 13th, 2012 (they always said nothing good happens on Friday the 13th)
Name of the Ship: Costa Concordia
Name of Ship’s Captain: Francesco Schettino
Owner of Ship: Carnival Corporation Confirmed
Deaths Due to the Incident: 11
Missing People: 28

At this time, rescue efforts have been suspended at the place of incidence because of rough seas in the immediate area which would both impede rescue capabilities and further endanger search and rescue workers. Among the missing are two Americans, a married couple named Jerry and Barbara Heil. Of course are prayers and best wishes are with them and their families during this gut-wrenching time.

When one thinks of the tragedy of a cruise liner sinking, the images and stories of the Titanic come to mind. The Titanic was thought to be an indestructible ship, built to withstand any impediment that could be placed in its way. However, when a giant iceberg tore through the side of that great ship on that fateful day, the ship’s Captain, Edward Smith, set a precedent for all ship captains to follow. He assisted in the evacuation efforts and was last seen standing on the bridge of the ship as it finally sunk underneath. It has been customary on the high seas to expect a ship’s captain to “go down with the ship” if the worst should come to be. Francesco Schettino’s actions following the crash fly in the face of that responsibility. It is reported that Captain Schettino abandoned the ship on a life boat, reached shore, took a taxi cab to a hotel and asked the cab driver where he could buy a clean pair of socks. All of this happened, mind you, while people were dying and the Costa Concordia was going under. He has since been arrested, placed under house arrest, and charged with manslaughter. His defense is that he “fell” into a lifeboat and was forced to shore.

Despite his blatant disregard to his duties as Captain, he may not face lawsuits from the injured parties (notwithstanding an Italian tort law unbeknownst to me). Schettino’s actions (however wrong they may have been) are covered under the liability umbrella provided to the ship by its owner, Carnival Corporation.

Please keep checking back for more updates on this story as it progresses. For information on this or any other matter, please contact the Law Offices of Aronberg & Aronberg at 561-266-9191 or email us at

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