Costa Concordia: group of 6 cruise ship passengers seek €350 million compensation
A group of six passengers from the capsized Costa Concordia cruise ship is seeking €350 million in damages and compensation from the luxury liner's owners after it ran aground off Italy's coast.
The group – four Americans and two Italians – rejected as "insulting" the €11,000 offered to each passenger by the vessel's parent company, Genoa-based Costa Cruises.
The civil suit was filed in Miami, Florida, with the group's lawyer insisting that compensation claims could and should be heard in US courts.
While Costa Cruises is an Italian company, it is owned by US-based Carnival, the world's biggest cruise operator.
The action was announced at a press conference in Genoa by Mitchell Proner, an American personal injury lawyer.
He said the Jan 13 disaster was caused by the commander of the cruise ship, Capt Francesco Schettino, 52, sailing too close to the Tuscan island of Giglio in order to give a 'salute' to a retired admiral and former colleague.
The 'salute', in which the ship sounded its sirens and passed to within 150 yards of the island with its 17 decks lit up, was "intentional" and "not an act of negligence", Mr Proner, of the law firm Proner and Proner, said.
He is working in conjunction with another US law firm, Napoli Bern Ripka Shkolnik, and Codacons, an Italian consumer association.
Together they represent more than 500 of the 3,000 passengers from the doomed liner, including tourists from Germany, France and Russia.
Seventeen bodies have been recovered from the hull of the ship, with another 16 people still missing, presumed dead, including a five-year-old Italian girl and her father.
Italian officials have said it could take up to a year to either refloat the ship or cut it up for scrap, prompting anger among islanders, who overwhelmingly rely on tourism for their livelihoods.
Islanders released figures which showed that last year the turnover from tourism was €50 million , representing 90 per cent of Giglio's business.
The holiday season runs from Easter to the end of October, with up to 10,000 visitors on the island each day during July and August.
An operation by a Dutch salvage firm to start removing the cruise ship's 500,000 gallons of diesel and heavy oil was again put on hold on Wednesday because of rough seas and dangerous conditions, amid fears that leaks could cause an ecological disaster.