Pier Paolo Cito/AP Photo
This has been an eventful week for us. We have been entertaining calls from many Costa Concordia victims of the January 13th, near-sinking. We have spoken to clients and potential clients from all over the world. We have identified many common questions that comes up frequently in our discussions. I will attempt to answer the most common here.
(1) The most important immediate concern is the thirty day notice provision contained in the Costa Ticket Terms & Conditions – in order to preserve your property damage claim you must give Costa notice, including a statement of particulars, of your property damage claims on or before February 12th, 2012, 30 days from the disaster. Since that date falls on Sunday, we will be filing our client’s claims by this Friday, February 10th. We urge you all to do the same.
(2) The next significant deadlines require a notice of personal injury or wrongful death claims within 185 days of the date of the disaster (by July 15th, 2012, also on a Sunday, therefore we will have our client’s notices sent on or before Friday, July 13th, 2012).
- Finally, you must file your lawsuit within one year of the date of the disaster, on or before January 13th, 2013.
(3) The choice of venue within which to file suit is the next most common question. Again the Terms & Conditions of the Costa ticket require suit in Genoa, Italy and require application of Italian Law. We are aware of the two lawsuits that have been filed in Illinois in Federal Court and in state court in Miami-Dade County, Florida. We have reviewed the state court complaint, Scimone v. Carnival Cruise Lines, Inc. and Costa Crociere, S.p.A. We believe that this suit was improperly filed in state court in Dade county and will be dismissed. We anticipate, based upon our experience in Miami-Dade state court, that this dismissal will occur by approximately May or June of this year. Accordingly, our advice to our clients has been one of patience, since we believe that we will know the outcome of the State, and likely Federal case, before the July 15th personal injury notice deadline and certainly well before the January 13th, 2013 lawsuit deadline. We will better know the course of action to take on behalf of our clients, however it is my anticipation that we will be filing our lawsuits in Italy. We have already begun the process of identifying Italian law firms with which to associate for these purposes. However, as experience Maritime and Personal Injury trial lawyers, we will stay heavily involved in the process and would prefer to take the lead in litigation and discovery with the assistance of Italian counsel.
(4) Any reputable American law firm will charge fees on a contingency fee basis. You should not expect to pay any fees in advance, and while attorneys may ask for a retainer fee, which is not illegal, it is not the norm. The more clients that we sign up, the greater ability we have to divide related costs and expenses, which will also only be charged to clients upon successful resolution of the case, and from the recovery. The greater number of clients that retain us, the less proportionate costs will be to you.
(5) Our firm has made, I believe, a unique offer to our clients, which will be available to anyone who has retained our firm. Since Costa has offered 11,000 (EURO) for property damage and incidental expense claims such as hotel transportation, etc., which according to Costa, you can obtain without an attorney, our contingency fee will only be based upon any recovery exceeding 11,000 (EURO), approximately $14,600. We think that under these circumstances, that is the right thing to do.
We are experienced Maritime lawyers. We regularly pursue injury and wrongful death claims against all of the major cruise lines, who require suit in Federal court in Miami-Dade County, Florida; Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Norwegian, Costa, and others. We represent both passengers and crew member, who’s rights will be based upon their employment and collective bargaining agreements, and will more likely be arbitrated. We have been speaking to clients in the United States, United Kingdom (England), Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Macedonia, Italy, France, Peru, and many more. We urge you to consider all of your options before hiring any lawyer and filing any lawsuits, and we especially urge considering our strategy, before rushing into suit. We’ll be happy to represent any passenger or crew-member, injured, or who’s loved ones perished as a result of this incident, and are available to answer any questions.
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