Britons to sue over Concordia wreck


Published: Wednesday 11th February 2015 by The News Editor

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Lawyers representing British passengers and crew caught up in the Costa Concordia disaster plan to sue the cruise operator following the jailing of the ship’s captain.

Francesco Schettino was sentenced to 16 years in prison after a trial in Italy for crashing his ship into a reef on January 13 2012, causing it to capsize.

He was convicted of manslaughter over the deaths of 32 people, as well as causing the shipwreck and abandoning ship while many of the 4,200 passengers and crew were still on board the stricken vessel.

Lawyers are now issuing proceedings in the Italian courts against cruise firm Costa Crociere Spa on behalf of four British crew members, as well as six British ex-patriates living in Spain who were passengers and two other passengers from Ireland and Canada.

The legal battle will seek damages for any injuries and psychological after-effects they may have suffered, including post-traumatic stress disorder, flashbacks, nightmares and a fear of travelling. Some passengers have already received compensation payouts.

Philip Banks, from law firm Irwin Mitchell, which is representing the victims, said: ” All of our clients suffered a horrendous ordeal which some may never truly overcome.

“The trauma they have been through has left some of them needing specialist therapy and counselling to come to terms with what happened and enable them to begin to move on with their lives.

“Although nothing can turn back the clock, the settlements we have already secured will help those affected to access the treatments they need, cover their lost earnings from time they have had to have off work and replace the personal items they lost on board. It will also compensate them for pain and suffering.

“It is also vital that all cruise operators learn from the information gathered from the captain’s criminal trial, as well as the many other investigations into what happened, so that the risk of any similar accidents being repeated is reduced.”

Among those on board the Costa Concordia when it snagged its hull on a jagged reef near the Tuscany shoreline was Joe Stribley, 23, from Maidstone in Kent.

Mr Stribley worked on the ship as a dancer and was off duty and relaxing in his cabin when he felt the vessel rock to one side.

He said: ” I looked out of my cabin door and could hear glasses falling off the shelves and smashing on the floor. Then came the signal to abandon ship.

“I saw that the ship was starting to sink and extreme panic set in and I thought that I was going to die. People started to jump into the water and, feeling this was my only option, I did the same and managed to get to the shore.”

Mr Stribley became withdrawn when he got home as he struggled to deal with the shock of what had happened.

He said: ” Every time I closed my eyes I could see it all happening again and I couldn’t sleep for several weeks as I suffered from terrible flashbacks and nightmares. It affected my whole life, including my ability to work and I continue to suffer today.

“I am happy with the outcome but at the same time I didn’t really know what to expect. It’s all just sinking in.”

Another dancer, Rosalyn Rincon, from Blackpool in Lancashire, was also left struggling to swim to shore from the doomed liner.

The 33-year-old said: “It felt like a horrible nightmare. I was trying to help other passengers get to safety and then suddenly realised that there were no other lifeboats. It dawned on me that I was not going to be rescued – I couldn’t stop shaking and started to really panic.

“We were told by crew to jump into the water and swim as far away from the ship as possible. I knew I had no choice other than to jump from the back of the ship.

“I was absolutely terrified but I knew it was the only way to get off the ship – loads of passengers and crew started to jump into the water below and swam to the shore.

“When I got home, my family and friends noticed a dramatic change in me. I had lost all my confidence and struggled to come to terms with what had happened. I was later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and started counselling sessions to help me with the flashbacks and I eventually stopped having nightmares.”

Published: Wednesday 11th February 2015 by The News Editor

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