On January 27, 2016, a 3-judge panel of the Third District Court of Appeal for the State of Florida has ruled unanimously that lawsuits filed by passengers on Costa Concordia, the infamous cruise ship that ran aground and sank in Italy in January 2012, should be heard in that country. The appellate court found that 57 plaintiffs, including five U.S. residents, should not be allowed to pursue their lawsuit against Miami-based Costa parent Carnival Corp. in Miami-Dade Circuit Court, which dismissed the case on forum non conveniens grounds.
Costa Concordia sank off the Italian island Giglio in January 2012 after its captain allegedly changed course to do a sail-by salute and hit a coral reef. More than 3,000 passengers and 1,000 crew members were evacuated--32 people died.
The court reasoned that the evidence is located in Italy. The court also noted that the wreckage, voyage data recorder, bridge voice recorder, ship cameras and the vessel's electronic navigation system are all in the custody of Italian authorities. The appellate court remanded a second set of Costa Concordia claims filed by 17 U.S. residents to Miami-Dade Circuit Court, finding that the trial judge in that companion case, which was consolidated with the first reported case, did not properly conduct a "private interest" analysis with respect to the U.S. plaintiffs. The court found that the court had to analyze the elements of the plaintiffs' causes of action. The court must then consider the necessary evidence required to prove and disprove each element and make a reasoned assessment as to the likely location of such proof. Because the trial court failed to undertake this analysis in the second case, the court reversed and remanded that portion of the trial court's ruling for further determination.
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