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Litigation flies after cruise ship accident

Haunting images of a jumbo-sized cruise ship tipped on its side in the water after running aground recently captivated people in Michigan and the rest of the world. Now, the company behind the cruise that crashed off the coast of Italy on Jan. 13 has reached a settlement with consumers in a number of countries. However, it still faces a lawsuit that alleges breach of contract and negligence here in the U.S.

The wreck killed 16 passengers. Presumably, separate lawsuits will be filed for their wrongful deaths. But, for surviving passengers, Miami-based Carnival Corp. reached a deal with consumer groups in Italy, Spain, France and Germany over damages. The company will pay each passenger $14,500 as a settlement in the ordeal.

However, Carnival Corp. for the first time ever faces a lawsuit in the United States. A crewmember of the ship recently filed the complaint in a federal court in Chicago claiming the company is guilty of negligence and breach of contract. The man is also seeking class action status in lawsuit so that fellow victims can join the legal effort.

This U.S. litigation is likely the least of the company's worries, as a criminal lawyer in Italy is preparing to file a complaint with prosecutors there over the incident. That lawyer said that his clients were not satisfied with the cash settlement.

This recent incident shines a light on how delicate operations for some businesses can be, especially when a company is in charge of overseeing the safety of its consumers. The ship that wrecked was carrying 4,200 passengers. Unfortunately, 18 passengers are still missing but have not been ruled dead.

Source: Bloomberg, "Carnival reaches consumer settlement as cruise ship wreck sparks lawsuits," Marco Bertacche and Chiara Vasarri, Jan. 27, 2012

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