The crash involving Carnival’s Concord Concordia cruise ship that caused the ship to sink spurred multiple lawsuits brought by passengers. These lawsuits stem from the ship seeking, which claimed the lives of 32 passengers and caused the evacuation of thousands. Despite the fact the captain of the cruise ship has been convicted of manslaughter, a Florida federal appeals court ruled that a lawsuit brought by 57 plaintiffs cannot move forward in the U.S. In this blog, our Miami cruise injury lawyers analyze the impact of the forum non conveniens litigation strategy used by the cruise line against U.S. passengers harmed in the crash.
The plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in federal court in Miami related to injuries and deaths of passengers of the Costa Concordia, which sunk after colliding with a coral reef.near the Italian island of Giglio. The 3rd DCA dismissed the lawsuit pursuant to a motion filed by the cruise line. The plaintiffs opposed the motion based on the fact ships owned by the Carnival subsidiary, Costa Crociere, had sailed out of Miami, FL, and 5 of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit and about 100 of the 3,200 passengers on board were U.S citizens.
The legal strategy of relying on the U.S. plaintiffs to have the case decided in the Miami court was rejected on appeal. The appellate court ruled that it would be unfair to Carnival Corp. to have the case proceed in Florida because virtually all of the witnesses and evidence are located in Italy. The court specifically referred to the bridge voice recorder, wreckage, electronic navigation system, voyage data recorder, and the ship cameras which are in the custody of Italian authorities.
In basic terms, this legal doctrine stands for the proposition that a case should not be tried in a certain geographic location when it is too inconvenient. The defendant must present evidence regarding three factors to have a case dismissed on this basis: (1) “Private” interest factors support dismissal; (2) An appropriate alternative jurisdiction exists; and (3) “Public” interests favor dismissal. When plaintiffs involved in the lawsuit are from the U.S., the court must give deference to the choice of forum by the plaintiffs, which requires the defendant to demonstrate that trying the case in the forum would result in “material and manifest injustice.”
The factual analysis of these factors can be complex, so an experienced Miami cruise injury attorney familiar with litigating this issue can significantly impact the outcome of your lawsuit. In the recent decision involving Concord Concordia, Judge Barbara Lagoa justified her decision in her opinion by indicating, “Litigating such similar cases based on the same accident and involving the same evidence in two different forums would seem to be a tremendous waste of judicial resources.”
The decision resolves a split between lower courts considering two separate class actions filed by victims of the Costa Concordia tragedy. The lower courts reached different conclusions based on their interpretation of the Florida Supreme Court’s opinion in Cortez v. Palace Resorts. In that case, the state’s highest court indicated judges must take into account public interest factors and that courts must show considerable respect to U.S. plaintiff’s forum choice no matter their state of residence. The state court judges both determined Italy would be an acceptable alternative forum, but they disagreed in their evaluation of the public and private interest.
The decision to dismiss the U.S. cases and force the parties to litigate the action in Italy demonstrates a common practice of cruise lines confronted with wrongful death and personal injury claims. They seek to force plaintiffs into federal or the courts of another country while having the law of less plaintiff-friendly countries applied. Our Miami cruise injury lawyers understand those tactics and work diligently to protect our clients’ interests and seek the fullest financial recovery.
Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano: Seeking Maximum Recovery for Damages Sustained Due to Negligence
Our Miami cruise injury lawyers at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano will tenaciously fight for our clients. For over 130 collective years, our firm has assisted accident victims in personal injury and wrongful death actions across South Florida. We seek to obtain compensation for your tangible and intangible damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. Our skill and dedication have earned us an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell and recognition as one of South Florida’s top firms by the Miami Herald. Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.