Carnival Corp., the world’s largest cruise-line owner, was sued in the U.S. over the Jan. 13 wreck of the Costa Concordia off the coast of Italy, which killed at least 16 people and left the vessel half submerged on its side.
The complaint, alleging negligence and breach of contract, was filed yesterday in federal court in Chicago by crew member Gary Lobaton, who seeks class-action status to represent all victims of the disaster off Giglio Island. The ship’s captain, Francesco Schettino, has been accused of causing the accident and abandoning ship.
“The defendants failed to properly and timely notify all plaintiffs on board of the deadly and dangerous condition of the cruise ship as to avoid injury and death,” Lobaton, who was living in Lima, Peru, said in the complaint. They “were abandoned by the captain.”
The Carnival ship, carrying 4,200 passengers and crew for a Mediterranean cruise, struck rocks and ran aground leaving at least 16 people dead. There are still 16 people missing, according to the complaint.
The lawsuit, which also names Carnival’s Costa Crociere unit in Italy, seeks damages for alleged violation of the Athens Convention for carrying passengers at sea, breach of contract, negligence, unjust enrichment and punitive damages for passengers and crew, according to the complaint.
A message left with Carnival’s press office wasn’t immediately returned before office hours. A Costa spokesman declined to immediately comment.
Costa said in a statement today that it reached an agreement with consumer groups to pay damages to the passengers of the ship. Costa is offering 11,000 euros ($14,500) to every passenger and reimburse their expenses, including the cost of the cruise.
Hours after the vessel left a port near Rome, Schettino, deviated from the planned route and steered close to the island, according to Italian investigators. Costa Crociere suspended Schettino, who was placed under house arrest on Jan. 17 for allegedly causing the shipwreck.
“Schettino, instead of being the last man to leave the vessel and using all reasonable efforts to assure that all passengers and crew members are evacuated to safety, breached his duty as the master of his vessel, and abandoned his ship in the first available opportunity he had,” Lobaton said in the complaint.
The case is Lobaton v. Carnival Corp, United States District Court Northern District of Illinois, No. 1:12-cv-00598.
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