International Tours: Who's Responsible for Your Safety? - Oct 5, 2012

Written by Administrator
Thursday, 04 October 2012 00:00

Most of us take global travel-and global companies-for granted. Just another part of our brave new world. But the next time you decide to get adventuresome and heed the call of the siren, you might want to consider the plight of the Costa Concordia, the cruise ship that ran aground in Italy on January 13, 2012. Thirty-two passengers died or vanished as a result of the accident. A number of lawsuits were subsequently filed in both federal and state courts in the United States, with the victims contending that, as the parent company of Costa Crociere (the cruise ship's owner), Miami-based Carnival Corp. should be held liable. 

But just this week, U.S. District Judge Robin Rosenbaum dimissed one of the lawsuits, stating that the proper jurisdiction for the case was actually Italy-what Carnival has been saying all along. That this was, essentially, an Italian dispute, and as such, should be tried in an Italian court. Behind this decision are the following facts: The Costa Crociere is owned by a company based in Italy, it was established under Italian law, and it was operating in Italian waters.

For the victims of the Concordia, this ruling is not encouraging and could have serious implications in terms of compensatory damages. Under the Italian system, there might even be liability limitations, although much of this will depend on how the cases are tried.

For the rest of us, the Concordia should serve as a useful lesson. When doing business with transnationals-i.e., companies that have operations, subsidiaries or investments in two or more countries-the reality of multiple jurisdictions (and not necessarily the one you want) may be unavoidable if there is a need to seek restitution. It's enough to make a traveler a little bit nervous.

And it doesn't help seeing Carnival disown all responsibility for its subsidiary, Costa Crociere. If the cruise industry is not careful, a mild case of the nerves could turn into a new trend. It's called staying at home.


Last Updated ( Thursday, 03 January 2013 14:01 )