Costa Concordia Drama Continues – Potential Cruise Ship Lawsuits
There have been reports that many of the passengers aboard the ill-fated Costa Concordia have hired a class action attorney in New York to bring suit in Miami against Costa’s parent company Carnival. Litigation against any cruise line is typically governed by the contract for passage – the cruise ticket. While it is quite common for lawsuits to be brought in Miami against a majority of the cruise lines, it is because the contract for passage elects the venue and the trips originate in the US or touch a US territory. These venue selection clauses have been upheld as enforceable by both State and Federal Courts. The policy behind the rationale is to concentrate the litigation in the cruise lines place of base operations. This encourages the commercial viability of the industry. On the other hand, cruises that originate overseas and do not touch a US port may be governed by other venue restrictions as set forth in the ticket. In the case of the Concordia it is likely that the ticket places venue in Genoa, Italy and will be subject to the restrictions of the Athens Convention, which limits damages. A suit brought in Miami when the ticket requires it to be brought elsewhere may subject the litigants to sanctions from US Courts. Further, to maintain a class action, the litigants must have suffered like damages. This may be very difficult to establish in the case of the Concordia. Treacherous seas are ahead for those who file in the wrong jurisdiction.
It is prudent to read the entire contract for passage before you purchase a cruise ticket, they are available on the cruise lines’ websites. It is at least necessary to read the contract before travel if not before purchase. The traveler must be familiar with the rights and responsibilities of the parties. Different laws govern different losses. The place of loss is critical as to what law applies in many instances. The limits of liability for personal injury and property losses will be spelled out in the contract. This will give the traveler a guideline as to what to bring on the trip. If the limit for property loss is limited to $10,000, it does not make sense to bring $50,000 of jewelry and the like on board. The passenger would not know these limits without reading them first. Maritime lawyers are well versed in these areas can help navigate through the myriad of obstacles to obtain relief for victims of accidents on cruise ships.