Costa’s Forum Selection Clause
The COSTA CONCORDIA disaster took the world by surprise. Not only did this tragic cruise ship accident shake many people’s confidence in cruise ship safety, it also thrust the issue of forum selection clauses into the mainstream.
Like all major cruise lines, Costa Cruises has a forum selection clause in its ticket contract. It stipulates that for ships departing from, returning to or visiting a U.S. port, all personal injury, illness and death claims must be filed in Florida. For ships that do not depart from, return to or visit a U.S. port, however, claims must be filed in Genoa, Italy. The COSTA CONCORDIA had no scheduled U.S. port calls.
Despite this fact, passengers and crew have already started filing lawsuits in the United States. Typically, unless a forum selection clause is found to be fundamentally unfair, U.S. courts will uphold it. In 2010, for instance, a Florida court dismissed a lawsuit filed against Regent Seven Seas, ruling that, per the forum selection clause, Paris was the appropriate venue for the plaintiff’s injury claim. This decision was upheld on appeal. So where does that leave the Costa lawsuits filed here in the U.S.?
Some hope that by proving Costa and its parent corporation, Carnival Cruise Lines, are identical in terms of decision-making, they can establish Florida as an appropriate venue. Others hope that the nature of the accident itself will effectively void the forum selection provision. As the aftermath of this accident continues to unfold, COSTA CONCORDIA victims filing suit in the U.S. will certainly face an uphill battle.
When a cruise passenger is injured or killed, an experienced Boston maritime attorney can review the facts of the case to ensure the victim’s claim is filed where his or her rights will be best protected. Do you have a cruise accident claim? Contact a Boston maritime attorney today.
Latti & Anderson LLP – Boston maritime trial lawyers