Today's hearing in the packed theater in Grosetto regarding the Costa Concordia disaster adjourned. It was a curious day.
Captain Schettino previously denied all of the legal charges which been mentioned in the press: manslaughter of 32 passengers and crew members, causing a shipwreck, and abandoning ship. But the Chicago Tribune reports that when Schettino met face-to-face with some survivors and families of the dead, believe it or not, he apologized to them.
There appears to be a tactic acknowledgment, it seems to me, that Schettino admits to his part in causing the accident, notwithstanding his insensitive and egotistic rantings over the past many months. Now his defense lawyer, Bruno Leporatti, wishes to spread the blame around.
U.S. personal injury lawyers who attended the hearing are eager to help with that task. Two American lawyers were mentioned in the press, Mississippi lawyer John Eaves and New York lawyer Peter Ronai. Ronai's comment outside of the hearings "there was no reason for anyone to die" was widely circulated. It resonated with me.
The U.S. lawyers are on the scene looking to cull evidence that may help their lawsuits filed against Costa and parent cruise line Carnival in the U.S. Eaves filed a highly publicized lawsuit against Carnival in Galveston and even temporarily seized a Carnival cruise ship earlier this year. Ronai made the news by filing a lawsuit on behalf of 4 Hungarian dancers employed on the Concordia in which he sued for the astronomical sum of $200,000,000.
None of these lawsuits filed in the U.S. will make it to trial, as I have stated before, and will be dismissed with leave to re-file them in Italy. But the focus of the lawyers for survivors and Schettino are united: point the finger at the executives ashore in Italy as well as in Miami where Carnival is based. Yes, Schettino's negligence is obvious and his attitude is maddening. But there many factors that played a part in 32 people dying unnecessary, just a few hundred feet from the little port of Giglio.
Poor training, out-of-date maps which lacked detail, malfunctioning equipment, language barriers, and a corporate culture of recklessness have all been cited as examples of corporate malfeasance which may have played a part - perhaps a secondary part - in causing the deaths.
Video credit; AP