Reporting Natalia Zea
MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) — Miami-based Carnival Cruise Lines is now facing a revised lawsuit which adds more plaintiffs and claims that seek millions of dollars in damages in last month’s Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster.
Attorneys filed the amended lawsuit Monday in Miami-Dade County. The lawsuit now names 39 individual plaintiffs who were aboard the Costa Concordia when it capsized off the Tuscany coast. At least 17 people died and 15 remain missing.
The suit initially sought more than $460 million.
The amended lawsuit names Carnival Corporation, Carnival Cruise Lines Inc., and its Costa subsidiary Costa Crociere SPA, which are all registered in the state of Florida and face state law claims for Maritime Negligence, Gross Negligence, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress and Negligent Retention. The amended suit adds Fraudulent Misrepresentation and Fraudulent Inducement.
Attorneys said the plaintiffs will seek punitive damages for the conduct of the Costa Concordia’s officers and staff, which demonstrated a reckless disregard for human life and property.
“When you realize that you see people swimming around you and trying to get a life vest between each other and everybody’s trying to save their life, you think ok what is the problem here,” said passenger Oscar Aleman.
Lead Plaintiffs’ Attorney Marc Jay Bern said Monday that “these passengers were left terrified and unguided in a desperate situation while the Captain was already safely in a lifeboat with his clothes dry and his luggage in hand. Once the surviving passengers reached land, their ordeal was far from over because Carnival failed to offer them the barest courtesies and assistance, leaving them in a country where most were aliens, with only the clothes on their back, no money and no passports.”
Costa announced shortly after the disaster it would reimburse passengers for travel and medical expenses. In addition, the company offered uninjured passengers a little more than $14,000 to compensate for luggage and psychological trauma.
“I spent more than that when I buy the cabin, the flight tickets to get there and all my stuff I got inside the boat,” said Aleman.
Many legal experts say it will be difficult to win lawsuits in Florida because Costa’s tickets require that they be filed in Italy. Passenger lawyers contend Florida is proper because Carnival Corp. is based there.
Other attorneys have announced plans to file lawsuits for passengers in Florida.
The Concordia had 4,200 people on board when it slammed into a reef off Giglio after the captain deviated from the ship’s planned course in an apparent stunt. Passengers said the captain then delayed sounding the evacuation alarm until the ship listed so heavily that lifeboats on one side couldn’t be lowered.
The captain, Francesco Schettino, is under house arrest, accused of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning the ship before all the passengers had been evacuated.
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