Following the Costa Concordia tragedy, there was considerable debate about where the survivors would file suit and what legal claims against the cruise line would be raised.
As we approach 6 months after the disaster, there is even more confusion. Lawsuits have been filed all over the place.
A group of New York lawyers filed suit in state court here in Miami. Many Miami lawyers referred cases to Italian lawyers to pursue in Genoa, Italy where Costa is headquartered. Other New York lawyers filed suit in New York. Lawyers in Illinois filed suit in Chicago. One lawyer filed suit in Galveston and even took the extraordinary step of seizing a Carnival cruise ship to try and get Carnival’s attention.
The latest highly publicized court filing, announced last week, involves a case filed against Carnival Corporation for the defective design of the Costa Concordia.
Mississippi lawyer John Arthur Eaves filed the lawsuit in California and alleges that the Concordia was designed in a manner that causes the cruise ship to "roll and list" and caused problems safely evacuating the vessel. He intends to names the designers and architects in the lawsuit.
Mr. Eaves scheduled a press conference in Italy (see video below) and said:
"We believe that the actions of Carnival were so calculated, to place the profits of their fleet, the ability to sell more space on each boat was so calculated a decision that they intentionally ignored safety concerns and for that we have asked the court for punitive damages in the United States which is the ability of a U.S. court to take away the profits by which Carnival gain. We thought it is not right for Carnival to make huge profits by doing the wrong thing."
Mr. Eaves was the lawyer who filed suit in Galveston and was criticized for seizing a Carnival cruise ship "as a shot across the bow" to get the cruise line’s attention. I met Mr. Eaves in Washington D.C. during the Congressional hearings into the Concordia disaster. He seems like a bright lawyer and a good fellow who has a passionate interest into cruise ship safety issues.
His "design defect" filing in California is another creative lawsuit seeking to hold Carnival responsible for the Concordia disaster. His latest lawsuit has also come under criticism by the cruise industry defenders, but I think it is right on target.
Someone needs to take a look at these taller and taller cruise ships and determine whether they are safely designed. A couple of months ago I wrote an article Are Cruise Ships Dangerously Top Heavy? I’m not a naval architect but the cruise ships today seem to have far too much air draft, like a 17 story condominium stuck on a barge.
Cruise ships like this depend on stabilizers. But stabilizers are of no help when the cruise ship loses power. Ships like this seem likely to tip over.
It’s the last place I would want my family to be if there is a collision, or a fire, or the engines fail in rough water.
Photograph: News Pictures / Rex Features