Yesterday, New York lawyers for Costa Concordia cruise survivors filed an amended lawsuit in Miami, adding 33 additional passengers as plaintiffs. The lawyers are seeking $78 million in compensatory damages and $450 in punitive damages for a total amount of $528 million on behalf of 39 passengers.
Although the lawyers called the original filing a "class action" lawsuit, the case was first filed by only 6 passengers, two from New York, two from Florida and two from Italy. The amended filing does not seek class action status.
The prospects of this lawsuit filed in state court in Miami surviving a motion to dismiss is slim, notwithstanding the ordeal suffered by the completely innocent passengers. Seeking $528 million dollars for just 39 of the over 3,000 passengers seems like a publicity stunt.
The lawyers held a press conference yesterday afternoon, which was one of the weirder developments in the Costa Concordia saga.
New York lawyer Marc Bern, of the law firm Napoli Bern Ripka Shkolnik and Associates said "Only one cruise ship has gone down in over 100 years, the Titanic. Now the Costa Concordia will live in infamy with it."
Of course, this is not true. Over the years there has been numerous sinkings of cruise ships.
Just five years ago, the Sea Diamond sank after the captain hit a charted reef in Greek water, resulting in the loss of passengers’ lives.
Then there is the infamous sinking of the Oceanos cruise ship (photo above left), where the captain abandoned ship leaving women, children and elderly passengers to die (they miraculously survived).
The sinking of the Oceanos is featured on my list of top 5 cruise ship disasters – watch the video here.
Other spectacular sinkings of cruise ships include the loss of the Sun Vista (photo below right) which burned and sank.
No one can forget the sinking of the Andrea Doria, which ironically enough was home ported in Genoa, Italy where Costa is based. It sank in the Atlantic after a collision with another cruise ship (my great aunt was a passenger and was rescued).
The fire and sinking of the Yarmouth Castle resulted in nearly one hundred dead passengers and crew.
Add to this list, the sinking of the SeaBreeze I, the Majestic Explorer, the Al-Salaam Boccaccio, Explorer, M/V Saurav, Queen Of The North, Senopati Nusantara, M/V Bulgaria and the Mikhail Lermontov (which sank in 100 feet of water off the northern tip of New Zealand’s South Island after hitting a reef).
One of the goals of the highly publicized $528 million lawsuit is supposedly to make cruising safer. It’s painful to watch non-maritime lawyers seek over one-half billion dollars for 39 survivors without acknowledging the numerous passenger and crew deaths caused by cruise ship sinkings over the years, from the Andrea Doria to the Sea Diamond.
February 15, 2012 Update: A friend emailed me and brought to my attention that I forgot to mention the fire and sinking of the famous Achille Lauro, which sank in 1994 in the Indian Ocean.
Do you know of additional cruise ship sinkings? Please leave a comment below.