Costa Cruises May Face Further Lawsuits Over Costa Concordia Disaster
A consumer rights association in Italy has won a civil lawsuit against Costa Cruises, securing about $105,000 in compensation for a passenger's post-traumatic stress from the Costa Concordia disaster. To date, Costa Cruises has settled most claims over the casualty out of court, and the case raises the possibility that its billion-dollar liabilities for the grounding and sinking of Costa Concordia might not be over yet.
The Court of Genoa ordered the cruise line to pay Ernesto Carusotti, one of the survivors, a total of $87,000 for pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage suffered as a result of the tragedy. Costa was also ordered to pay about $18,000 in legal fees.
Codacons, a consumer rights association based in Genoa, said it is open to the possibility of initiating more legal action against Costa Cruises, with hopes of obtaining compensation for harms suffered by other survivors of the Costa Concordia disaster. In a statement, Codacons called on former passengers of Costa Concordia who would like to sue to contact the association.
The January 2012 Costa Concordia disaster killed 32 people and set off a chaotic evacuation of crew and passengers, some of whom jumped into the sea and swam ashore.
Costa Cruises avoided a criminal trial by agreeing to pay a $1.31 million fine. The cruise line blamed the ship’s captain, Francesco Schettino, for intentionally navigating too close to shore. Schettino was convicted of multiple counts of manslaughter and sentenced to 16 years in jail. Investigators severely criticized his handling of the disaster, accusing him of delaying the evacuation and abandoning ship himself before all 4,000 passengers and crew had been rescued.
The Costa Concordia was later righted, refloated and towed to a nearby yard for dismantling and recycling. It was the most complex and expensive wreck removal operation ever attempted, and the final price tag came in at an estimated $1.2 billion.
Top image: The Costa Concordia and her lifeboats at Giglio, Italy, Jan. 14, 2012 (Roberto Vongher / CC BY-SA 3.0)