Costa Concordia lawsuits move to Florida court system

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A U.S. District Court judge in Florida has ordered that the claims of 104 survivors of the January 2012 Costa Concordia grounding be sent to the Florida state court system and litigated there.

The Feb. 15 order involves two cases that represent the claims of people who were injured when the cruise ship capsized after grounding just off the Tuscan island of Giglio, according to a report at www.marinelog.com.

Both cases began in the Florida court system against Carnival Corp. as the parent corporation, as well as the ship designers and the architect. Marc Jay Bern, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said the decision is a significant victory for them.

"As the district court recognized, ‘this case is about international and U.S. passengers injured on a pleasure cruise run by a private corporation and whether that corporation properly adhered to safety standards or was other negligent.' We are thrilled that we can now turn our attention to litigating the facts of this case before a Florida state court, where the plaintiffs can expect their interests will be protected, rather than in Italy, where the courts are notoriously slow and cases for mass torts such as shipwrecks have taken as long as 30 years without final decisions.

“Additionally, passengers litigating their claims in Italy would be subject to paying for litigation costs, and under the American system plaintiffs' law firms only seek compensation if their clients are successful. Thus the Florida state courts provide our clients the promise of a remedy not available in Italy."

The Costa Concordia plaintiffs are represented by Napoli Bern Ripka Shkolnik & Associates, which has offices in New York and Florida and seven other states; New York-based Proner & Proner; and the Italian firm CODACONS.

They are seeking at least $2 million in compensation per passenger and plan to request $590 million in punitive damages.

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