Growing number suing Costa Cruises after "chaotic" evacuation



A growing number of Costa Concordia survivors are launching legal action against Costa Cruises after their cruise ship hit a reef and capsized off a Tuscan island last Friday.
 
Passengers were instructed to return to their cabins just minutes after a 70m gash wastorn in the side of the hull.
 
“The situation is under control,” a crewmember told passengers. “Go back to your cabins. We ask you that you all return to your cabins. Once the electrical problem is sorted out everything will be back to normal shortly. Everything is under control. We are resolving the problem.”
 
It took Captain Franceso Schettino over an hour to decide to evacuate the sinking ship.
 
The crew hadn’t gone through the evacuation procedure with passengers because, according to international rules, it only needs to be practiced within 24 hours of leaving port.
 
Reports have emerged this week that increasing numbers are seeking to launch legal action against Costa Cruises.
 
Fernando Tofanelli, an Italian student who was on board the ship, asked Costa Cruises staff for some money to buy basics after he lost his ID, car keys and wallet. “By the evening, a tough looking man and a handful of women were telling us, ‘If you want any money or compensation, you have to make a legal claim. You need to go to court’,” he said.
 
However, those hoping to sue the cruise company have been warned that they may not be successful. Vincent Foley, an admiralty lawyer in New York, told the New York Times that Costa Cruises could argue that they aren’t responsible for Captain Schettino’s behaviour.

The CEO has already laid blame at the feet of the captain, saying his “unapproved, unauthorised manoeuvre” caused the crash. Captain Schettino is currently under house arrest accused of manslaughter, shipwreck and abandoning ship.
 
Furthermore, part of the ticketing agreement for Costa Cruises stipulates that any legalaction must be filed at a court in Genoa, Italy, where people have less rights than in other countries. This significantly limits the kinds of lawsuits that can be brought, where they can be brought and how much the company can be forced to pay, the New York Times reports.

To date 11 people have been confirmed dead with 21 others still missing. The search for survivors has been temporarily suspended after the 114,500-tonneship shifted on the rocks near the island of Giglio.

The photo above is of Costa Concordia taken in 2009 by 233627

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