Italian Cruise Ship case continued – Aronberg, Aronberg & Green

Jan. 31st, 2012   /   , ,

Italian Cruise Ship case continued – Aronberg, Aronberg & Green

Several other bodies have been recovered off the coast of Italy in the aftermath of the cruise ship case that grabbed headlines across the globe.  There are still fifteen people who are missing (but generally believed to be dead, unless they’ve managed to survive two and a half weeks submerged in water).  So, what’s been going on outside of the search and rescue efforts?  Well, a lot.

The owner of the cruise line that was operating the Costa Concordia, Carnival Corp., a Miami-based company, has offered $14,500 to the uninjured survivors of the cruise ship crash.  Make a note that this compensatory offer does not include any of the crewmembers on board the ship that night, any of the passengers injured in the crash, or any of the distressed family members who lost loved ones in the crash.  The offer solely applied to uninjured survivors who were onboard the ship but escaped without harm.  So, what was the $14,500 supposed to cover?

The $14,500 is supposed to cover both lost luggage as well as any psychological trauma that the passengers sustained as a result of the crash.  In addition, Carnival Corp. has offered to refund the cost of the cruise tickets, cover the cost of travel expenses for the passengers to return home, and cover any medical bills that may arise in the future that can be tied to the ship disaster that occurred on January 13th.

The quick offer by Carnival Corp. to the uninjured survivors is a ploy to minimize their financial loss.  Don’t misunderstand this; I’m sure that Carnival Corp. feels horrible about the crash – that isn’t the issue.  Nevertheless, the fact that Carnival Corp. made an offer so quickly is evidence that they want to write a check and have the survivors sign a release agreement which means that they thereby release Carnival Corp. from any liability with regard to anything that may occur in the future.  How are passengers to know what kind of emotional trauma they will begin to deal with in the years to come following the crash?  This offer – and it’s intended accompanying agreement – would mean that the company would write the check today, and if a passenger begins to suffer years down the road from traumatic stress, and needs psychological help, Carnival Corp. won’t be responsible.  It’s not right.

This is seen all the time.  Often times, right after a car accident, insurance companies will offer people involved in the car wreck a settlement before they’ve had a chance to fully be evaluated by medical professionals, and therefore don’t know the extent of their injuries.  Many of the uninjured parties, knowing this, have rejected Carnival Corp.’s offer.

As a response, attorneys for some of the uninjured parties have filed legal paperwork in Miami to sue Carnival Corp. for $460 million ($10 million in compensatory and $450 in punitive damages).  Punitive damages are intended to “punish” the defendant to ensure that this kind of disaster won’t happen again – at least not on their “watch.”  This lawsuit may or may not be sucessful as Carnival may have an argument that all cases have to be brought in Italy. Yes, thats right, ITALY!!!  According to the passenger cruise ticket, in very small print, all passengers on board that ship agreed, if they had a lawsuit, to bring that lawsuit in ITALY.  Unfortunately, Carnival may win on that point.   There is a very good argument though that cases can be brought in Miami as that is where Carnival’s main headquarters are located.  It will take a Judge in Miami to rule in favor of the passengers to allow the cases into Miami court.

As the legal story relating to the crash continues to unfold, we will keep you up to date with any new developments.

For more information, please contact us at the Law Offices of Aronberg and Aronberg by calling us at 561-266-9191 or emailing us at daronberg@aronberglaw.com.

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