Saturday, March 31, 2012

Ship Seized Over US Legal Action

US marshals briefly seized a cruise ship in coastal Texas under a judge's order in a 10 million dollar (£6.25 million) legal action filed on behalf of a German woman who died in the Costa Concordia disaster. The Carnival Triumph was seized for several hours at its port in Galveston, where it was scheduled to leave with 2,700 passengers. Both sides said they reached a confidential deal that released the ship for its five-day cruise to Mexico. A Texas judge had ordered the seizure to secure the plaintiff's claims against Carnival, the Miami-based parent company of the Italian cruise line whose ship hit a reef and sank off an Italian island in January. The lawsuit was filed on Thursday on behalf of a German woman who died in the Costa Concordia incident, which killed 32 people. Plaintiff lawyer John Eaves Jr said he did not file the lawsuit to inconvenience passengers of the Carnival Triumph, but rather to emphasise to Carnival the need for improved safety. He said terms of the agreement were confidential. Carnival released a statement noting that the lawsuit was related to a European-based sister cruise line. The company said "the matter involving the Carnival Triumph" was resolved and the ship departed early on Saturday evening.Deputy US Marshal Alfredo Perez confirmed that marshals had seized the vessel. Passengers were allowed on and off the ship, which was not allowed to leave its port while the deal was negotiated. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of the estate of Siglinde Stumpf, claims that Carnival shared responsibility for Ms Stumpf's death for not preparing and maintaining proper safety programs for all vessels under its control, including the ill-fated Costa Concordia. The Italian captain of the Costa Concordia when it sank, Francesco Schettino, is under investigation for alleged manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship during the evacuation. Schettino has denied wrongdoing and claimed that the reef was not marked on charts. Mr Eaves argued that the company's training for captains and crew members is inadequate. He said a major aim of the lawsuit is to persuade Carnival to improve safety standards and to join in a campaign to update maritime law, which he said has some good elements but should be brought "into the modern age".

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