Monday, February 6, 2012

Cruise Line Forum Clause

I'm sure you've heard of the cruise ship that sunk off the coast of Italy after the captain ran the ship aground, and then bailed before passengers and had a chance to get on life rafts. The Carnival Corp. owned Costa Cruises (owner of the Costa Concordia cruise liner) offered each uninjured passenger a full refund and $14,400 in cash.

Those who were injured (or lost their lives) and need more than Costa Cruises' cash offer are running into a ship-sized roadblock. Costa Concordia is based in Miami. Ordinarily, this would mean that an injured passenger could file suit against Costa Cruises in Florida. However, the small print on each Costa Concordia ticket includes a "choice of forum" clause, requiring any lawsuits against the company to be brought in Italy. As you would imagine, the cost and practical hurdles of filing suit in Italy deter many legitimate claims.

Though passengers probably did not consider the possibility of town-size ship running aground during their vacation when signing below the small print, the clauses will probably be upheld based on multiple prior Supreme Court decisions. See this Seattle Times article for more.

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