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Costa offers settlement for Concordia passengers

Costa offers settlement for Concordia passengers
Costa Crociere on Friday offered to compensate passengers who returned home, uninjured, from the Costa Concordia wreck a lump sum of €11,000 ($14,458).

The offer was negotiated with consumer protection groups and has the support of multiple tourism and travel industry associations, Costa said. In Italy, the company has already reached an agreement with the National Council of Consumers and Users.

The amount covers damages including loss of baggage and personal effects, psychological distress and loss of enjoyment of the cruise vacation.

In addition, Costa will reimburse the cruise fare and taxes, air and bus transfers, travel expenses to reach the port of embarkation and return home, any medical expenses resulting from the cruise and costs incurred on board during the voyage.

Costa said the families of those who died and passengers who were injured and required medical treatment on site will be covered under a separate proposal that takes into account their individual circumstances.

The cruise operator noted the compensation package is higher than the current indemnification limits provided for in international conventions. The €11,000 lump-sum payment is offered to all Costa Concordia passengers, including nonpaying children.

Codacons, an Italian consumer group not involved in the negotiation, is collecting names for a class action suit to be filed in Miami that seeks €125,000 per passenger. The group asserts two or three times more could be expected for specific cases and more than €1m for the most serious cases. It said the action will be open to all nationalities.

A number of US law firms are also looking to file class action suits.

Reuters reports that John Arthur Eaves, a US personal injury lawyer, said the class action is not right for the Costa Concordia incident because everyone on board had different damages. He is urging passengers to file individual suits in the US.

The news service said Roberto Corbella, who leads ASTOI, the Italian Association of Tour Operators, and helped Costa in its negotiations with consumer groups, advised passengers to accept the offer since lawsuits have uncertain outcomes, take a long time and may not yield more compensation than the company offers.

Costa today also said it will provide for psychological counseling for any passengers who request it.

The company further agreed to let customers cancel, without penalty, any upcoming cruise booked before Jan. 13, on any of its routes, through Feb. 7.