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Compensation battle around Costa Concordia starts

Some 70 passengers of the stricken cruise ship Costa Concordia have joined in class action against Costa Crociere, the Carnival Corp & plc unit that owns the vessel. However, legal experts say that chances of bringing compensation cases up in courts in the US are meager, according to media reports.

"Over 70 passengers who were on board the ship have joined the class action suit initiated by our association," said Carlo Rienzi, head of the Italian consumer rights group Codacon said in a statement. "Our objective is to get each passenger at least €10,000 compensation for material damage and also for ... the fear suffered, the holidays ruined and the serious risks endured," he said.

The New York Times reports that Costa’s contract states that the line will pay no more in cases of death, personal injury and property loss than about $71,000 per passenger. “It allows no recovery for mental anguish or psychological damages. It bars class-action suits,” the report said.

For cruises that do not involve a United States port, such as the seven-night western Mediterranean itinerary of Costa Concordia, the contract states, any litigation must be brought in Genoa, Italy, where the headquarters of Costa Crociere are located, and be governed by Italian law.

But when it comes to liability, the contract says the company can take advantage of any limits set by international treaties or the laws of the United States, which are very generous to owners of vessels. If there is a conflict among the patchwork of laws and treaties regarding liability, it says, “the Carrier shall be entitled to invoke whichever provisions provide the greatest limitations and immunities to the Carrier,” New York Times reports.

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