On Friday January 13th, 2012, the Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia struck a rock off the west coast of Italy, causing the ship to partially sink. Of the 3,229 passengers on board, all but 32 escaped the ship. 39 of the survivors have filled a lawsuit against Carnival Corp, who owned the company that operated the ship, for gross negligence. In order for a plaintiff to win a negligence case the defendant must owe a duty of care to the plaintiff, breach a duty of care to the plaintiff, the plaintiff must suffer a legally recognizable injury, and the defendants breach must have caused that injury.
Duty of care to the plaintiff:
The first thing the plaintiff must prove in a negligence case is that the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff. A duty of care is a duty by a business to use an appropriate amount of care when dealing with their customers. The duty in this case is for the defendant, Carnival Corp, to provide as safe of a cruise as possible. Safety regulations have been established to keep a customer’s cruise experience as safe as possible which includes conducting pre departure safety drills, which is the duty of care carnival owes to its passengers.
Breach of duty of care:
The plaintiffs claim that the duty of care established by safety regulations was breached when the Costa Concordia did not have a pre departure safety drill. Among that, they also claim that the crew was not helpful during the evacuation, the ship was off course, and the captain waited too long before giving the order to evacuate. The obligation to the passengers to provide a safe cruise was emphatically neglected.
Legally Recognized Injury:
Post-traumatic stress is the most common emotional injury, which is where I think the plaintiffs are going in this case. PTSD is reoccurring stress caused by a traumatic event, and a sinking cruise ship is certainly traumatic. The story of the titanic is known by anyone who ever went to grade school and is the only other cruise ship to ever sink. So imagine the horror that the passengers of the Concordia experienced.
The reason that the ship sank in the first place was that the captain had the ship on the wrong course to close to shore. It was dark out, anything to see would have been impossible to see, so there was absolutely no reason that the ship should have been that close to shore. Also, the passengers could have had more of a sense of security if they were properly instructed on how to deal with such an emergency. Carnival Corp failed to provide any safety or evacuation instructions, a recipe for disaster and Mother Nature had her helpings.
The plaintiff most certainly has a legitimate claim to negligence based on the four basic elements needed as listed above. Carnival corp had a responsibility to provide a safe vacation and failed to do so by not providing adequate safety drills. The plaintiffs have a legally recognizable injury and it was clearly caused by the negligence of Carnival Corp and the actions of its employees.