A court in Grossetto, Italy, opened hearings this month to determine who, if anyone, should stand trial in the sinking of the_ Costa Concordia,_ a 952-foot cruise ship that struck rocks, grounded and sank in January 2012, killing 32 people.
Capt. Francesco Schettino, 52, was before the court accused of manslaughter, abandoning ship during the incident, causing a shipwreck and misinforming the coast guard. If convicted, he could be sentenced to 20 years in jail. Five additional crew members also may face various charges.
In an interesting twist, one of the parties seeking to claim damages is Costa Crociere, a subsidiary of the Carnival Corporation that owned the _Costa Concordi_a. The company insists that it is due compensation after losing its ship valued at some $650 million.
Local authorities where the Costa Concordia went down want more than $100 million to recoup revenue they say has been lost thanks to the ship remaining an eyesore along the shoreline for so long.
Some of the more than 4,000 passengers who survived are also claiming damages of as much as $1.3 million apiece, even though other passengers have already accepted compensation of about $14,000 per person. About 150 survivors have retained an American attorney in the case.
Costa Crociere previously paid about $1.3 million in a plea bargain to avoid any future criminal charges against the company, but it may still be liable in civil lawsuits.