Victims of last year’s Costa Concordia disaster received a huge win in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida after a decision was made regarding 104 survivors of the disaster.
The district judge ordered that the claims of the survivors were to be remanded (returned to) the Florida State Court for continued litigation.
The decision concerned two cases – Denise Abeid-Saba, et al., v. Carnival Corporation et al., and Scimone v. Carnival Corp – which together represented the 104 cases.
The cases had been removed by the defendants (Carnival) under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (CAFA) which allows for mass action cases to be removed from court. However, the law also specifies that CAFA excludes cases which are merged to achieve a minimum of 100 cases. Both Denise Abeid-Saba and Scimone had less than 100 cases each and so could not be removed under the CAFA ruling.
Marc Jay Bern, the plaintiff’s counsel, made his closing statement celebrating his side’s victory: “As the District Court recognised, ‘this case is about international and US 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 thirty 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.”