Court Action Focused on Costa Concordia
On Friday, U.S. Magistrate Judge John Froeschner ordered the Carnival Triumph seized and held at that port. The order for the ship was carried out Saturday by U.S. Federal Marshals.
The drama began after a German family - whose relative, Siglinde Stumpf, died during the Costa Concordia accident in January - filed a $10 million lawsuit, Kai Stumpf v.Carnival plc, in Galveston's U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas.
Costa Cruises and Carnival Cruise Lines are sister brands. They operate independently but have the same parent company, Carnival Corporation.
A Bloomberg news report said court documents for the order read as follows: “The court finds that the conditions for an attachment of defendants’ joint and collective property within this district, mainly the MS Carnival Triumph, appear to exist upon an admiralty and maritime claim."
The court document went on to say that Carnival Triumph would be allowed to unload passengers and cargo and move between berths within the port until a prompt hearing could be scheduled. Agents may read the Bloomberg story here: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-03-31/texas-judge-orders-cruise-ship-seizure-in-costa-concordia-suit.html
The ship had just completed one cruise on Saturday and was planning to operate its next five-day cruise to Mexico on Saturday when the court order happened.
Reaching a Resolution
Jennifer de la Cruz, a Carnival Cruise Lines spokeswoman, told Travel Agent early Saturday that the line was aware of the situation and working through appropriate legal channels to resolve it.
"The litigation in question relates to a matter that involved a European-based cruise line that is a sister line to Carnival Cruise Lines," she said. "We are optimistic that the issues regarding the Carnival Triumph will be resolved and the ship will depart on its scheduled voyage later today."
John Heald, a popular Carnival cruise director who writes a blog boasting 13 million views and has a Facebook page with 25,000 fans, wrote: "We are optimistic this will be resolved and the ship will be able to sail as planned. Guests wishing to cancel will be assessed penalties. Embarking guests will be given a letter as they arrive at the terminal informing them of the situation."
While the matter was up in the air early Saturday afternoon, guests were still permitted to board the ship as normal and enjoy features and facilities - while hoping the parties would work things out.
Late Saturday, Carnival issued an updated statement, explaining that the ship would indeed sail: "The matter involving the Carnival Triumph has been resolved and the ship is now expected to depart from Galveston momentarily on its scheduled five-day voyage."
Carnival said the ship would operate its normal itinerary with stops in Progreso and Cozumel, Mexico.
So what happened Saturday afternoon to resolve the legal mess? ABC News ran an Associated Press story about the resolution. Agents may read it here: http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/cruise-ship-briefly-seized-texas-16045980.
The plaintiff's attorney John Eaves Jr. told the Associated Press he didn't file the lawsuit to inconvenience passengers of the Carnival Triumph, but rather to emphasize to Carnival the need for improved safety.
Earlier Eaves reportedly told Bloomberg Businessnews in a telephone interview that he was seeking a $10 million bond from Carnival Corp. and enhancements in maritime safety regulations as a way to allow the ship to depart.
But Eaves then told Bloomberg Businessnews late Saturday that the terms of the agreement to resolve the situation were confidential and he could not discuss them.
Late Saturday, Carnival Triumph was released from the seizure action. The cruise departed only 45 minutes later than scheduled.