Archivi tag: Compensation

Norman Atlantic: criminal trial starts 4 years from the disaster

At exactly 4 years from the fire and shipwreck of the Norman Atlantic, here it comes the official news that the Prosecutor’s office of Bari has finally requested the indictment for the 32 suspects (30 individuals and two companies) accused of the disaster occurred off the Albanian coast in the night between 27 and 28 December 2014, which caused 31 victims, including 12 confirmed deaths and 19 bodies never found, and the serious injury of 64 of the approximately 500 passengers, all remained on board in stormy sea for two days and beyond, and that even today they have not overcome the trauma of that terrible experience.

No fire alarm was issued, no warning from the crew, and the passengers awoke at night between coulters of smoke and panic scenes. A panic which released – in many – the worst in human race. The first to abandon ship were some of the crew, dropping quickly the only usable lifeboat, with just a third of its precious capacity of persons. During the retrieve of the passengers using the baskets lowered from helicopters, others have literally attacked the rescuers, with bites and punches, just to be saved first, others refused to leave priority to women and children. Some people threw himself into the water to escape the flames, and was quickly swallowed by the waves of the icy December sea.

The news of the signing of the request for judgment had been circulating for some weeks now, but reaching the 4th anniversary, it comes an official confirmation that the prosecutors have requested the criminal trial for the legal representative of Visemar, the company that owns the ferry, Carlo Visentini, the two legal representatives of the Greek Anek Lines, charterer of the ship, the commander Argilio Giacomazzi and 26 members of the crew. After confirming the serious responsibilities and negligence that emerged in the probationary phase, the suspects are accused, for various reasons, of crimes of negligent cooperation in shipwreck, culpable homicide and multiple culpable injuries in addition to numerous violations on safety and the navigation code.

The date of the first hearing with the judge of the preliminary hearing has not yet been set, but we already know that – in order to overcome the logistical difficulties of the court of Bari – the Bitonto bunker room was again made available, in which we will stand for this part of the criminal trial.

Our team “Giustizia per Norman Atlantic” has represented so far about fifty people whose lives were devastated in various ways in the shipping incident, as passengers or as family members of victims or missing, and for many of those we lauched the multi-milion civil case running in Bari, that lately moved a further step in extending the compensation responsabilities to another company of Visemar Group.

For many others, forced by the long waiting and personal difficulties, we were asked to negotiate and close their case with a transaction, but now with the criminal trial pending we are confident that justice will soon be brought to all, even for those that couldn’t wait for a judicial and more fair compensation. New clients have recently joined, to overcome the lack of results they faced in other countries and different strategies.

But for all passengers, more and beyond an economic compensation, the first right to justice is that those who have made so many mistakes will pay with years in prison and companies will be punished with heavy punitive damages, so that this tragedy will prevent the recurrence of disasters in the world of navigation by ferries

The 2019 will now be the year of the Norman Atlantic trial, and we will ensure to make it as productive and effective as possible.

Annunci

Fire emergency in Greece on Anek’s ferry΄El Venizelos’ – ΄ΕΛΕΥΘΕΡΙΟΣ ΒΕΝΙΖΕΛΟΣ΄: ΜΙΑ ΑΚΟΜΗ ΠΥΡΚΑΓΙΑ ΞΕΣΠΑΣΕ ΣΕ ΟΧΗΜΑΤΑΓΩΓΟ ΠΛΟΙΟ ΤΩΝ ΑΝΕΚ LINES

In the night between August the 28th and the 29th 2018 the ship Eleftherios Venizelos, another ferry from Anek Lines, during its travel from Piraeus to Crete with 875 passengers and 141 crew on board, was hit by a serious fire in the garage area, so much that the Captain was forced to declare general emergency and abandonment of the ship.

The emergency operations were not easy and implied the intervent of two firefighting tug boats, ten tenders, 48 firefighters and two emergency teams, as the fire was very quickly expanding from the lower decks and heavy black smoke was inclosing the ship.

The dynamic of the new accident is similar to the disaster of the Norman Atlantic, which as this one, was operating under the flag of the Greek company ANEK: a vehicle parked on board caught fire so that from 12am the board started to send emergency signals to get help from the Coast Guard.

After we assisted dozens of passengers who suffered a devastating experience onboard of the Anek’s ferry Norman Atlantic in the nights of the 28/29 December 2014 where so many lost their life, an all others suffered for their personal safety and for the losses of their personal belongings and for which we already submitted to the Civil Court of Bari our law suit against Anek and Visemar (see our web page on such case: https://giustiziapernormanatlantic.wordpress.com/), we face another case with a fire that broke out in the car deck of a ferry.

The emergency operations on the Eleftherios Venizelos went on during all night and the ship was at the end escorted back into Piraeus and all the passengers were disambarked only during the morning of the 29 August.

Media sources report that the ship has had many problems operating so much that since 2014 it has a discontinuous use, with some short-term rentals (including one to the Greek government for the transportation of migrants from the islands) and sporadic income in service as a replace of other ships Anek stopped for repairs. This raises questions in relation to safety of the ship. These questions will be adressed by with a specific complaint we will file to authorities that have already opened an investigation to find out the causes of the fire and the reasons for the lack of containment of the flames in the garage by the drenching system, providing all the trial expert’s reports on Norman Atlantic about critical issues on fires in Ro/Ro ship’s garage open decks. Continua a leggere

Norman Atlantic: il punto della situazione a tre anni dalla tragedia

Today, December 28, 2017 falls on the third anniversary of the shipwreck and fire of the Norman Atlantic, and all those involved in the tragedy, can not but remember this date, and from our side we must briefly make a point of the situation about the status of trials and compensation.

  • The criminal trial is struggling to start, despite the probationary phase was closed in April 2017 and the report from the experts appointed by the Court of preliminary investigation of Bari has ascertained the actual existence of many malfunctions on the ship, failure to comply with the emergency procedures by crew and the very serious responsibilities of both Visemar (owner of the ship) and Anek (carrier). We know that the Public Prosecutors assigned to the Norman Atlantic case, in recent months have also dealt with some large and demanding proceedings on organized crime in Puglia, and we are therefore convinced that within the beginning of the new year it will finally be notified the request to trial to all the investigated subjects, starting the expected criminal trial phase, which will lead truth and justice to the victims. As already happened in all the trials on naval disasters that we have followed and continue to follow.
  • Negotiations: concerning on the compensation side, negotiations have reached a level of offers that has been considered by many passengers to be very far from the rightful expectations, even though many have been forced to accept these offers, due to economic difficulties in they were in, especially in Greece. We know that from the ascertaining of liability troughout the criminal case, we will avoid the compensation ceilings that so far have allowed the shipowners to keep the negotiations on a low level, and therefore the negotiations profile remains open to new possible results.
  • The civil trial: in December last year the civil lawsuit started, to avoid incurring the decadence that the European legislation introduced into our legal system, forcing passengers to act judicially within two years from a maritime accident that involved a compensation right, to avoid forfeiture. Defined by the newspapers a record process, the case of the Norman is the second major civil case in the maritime field in Italy: between our team “Justice for the Norman Atlantic” and the team formed by the Turinese Ambrosio & Commodo, Bona & Oliva and the Greeks Pavlakis-Moschos, two separate civil actions were started in 2017 at the Court of Bari, for a total request of almost ten million euro. The first hearing in our trial took place on 24.10.2017, and the judge Dr Simoni Raffaella has kept the file in reserve to decide on the many exceptions raised by the counterparts about the regularity of notifications, passive legitimacy and many other preliminary issues. Just a few days ago we received the order by the court which rejected all the insidious exceptions of Anek’s lawyers regarding the notifications and simply ordered the integration of the deeds with the facts acquired as a result of the probative phase from the criminal procedure (on the dynamic of incident and responsibility of the carrier) as well as about the specification of the damage divided for each position of the passengers and / or family members of the victims, then fixing the case for its continuation at the next hearing on June 26th 2018.

The first confrontation in court with the lawyers of Anek and Visemar, therefore, has definitely closed in favor of the victims and the civil case, pending the developments on the criminal procedures front, will be able to take place regularly in the next months in its preliminary phase. Continua a leggere

Documento Newspaper on our client’s testimonies

An article from Documento newspaper in Greece, recently took into account our legal Team collegue Mr. Kriton Metaxopoulos and some of our client’s interview.

Numerous faults, omissions and violations of basic safety rules are detected in the report on the causes of the tragedy of the Norman Atlantic shipwreck from the experts appointed by the Italian Justice which is currently displayed in «Documento» newspaper. At the same time, people who experienced the events of December 28th 2014, talk to «Documento» newspaper and describe the dramatic moments they experienced in the Adriatic, where they literally faced death.

The appointed experts reported that the ship was overloaded with vehicles and especially refrigerator trucks. The results showed that the on board vehicles were more than the available sockets. In this context, many refrigerator trucks had their engines working while the ship was on board. Furthermore, the experts concluded that the fire caused by a vehicle engine/machine, a fact that may be related to the operation of the engines the on board refrigerator trucks. It is mentioned that the inadequacy of the available sockets on the ship compared with the number of refrigerator trucks became subject of the debate among captain Argillio Giaromazzi, ship-owner Argillio Giaromazzi and representative of ANEK, few hours before the fatal incident.  It is also noted that due to overload of the ship, the vehicles in parking lots were almost stuck with each other.

According to the appointed experts, the construction of the ship, the arrangement of its inner spaces and the time required for the activation of the ship’s fire-alarm system were the basic factors that the fire impossible to be extinguished on time.

Mr. Kriton Metaxopoulos, the lawyer who represents families of victims of the Norman Atlantic shipwreck along with Italian lawyers, mentioned in Documento newspaper the following: ‘’The facts resulted from questioning procedure until today and basically the experts’ findings confirm all the allegations and arguments of both families of the victims and tragedy survivors. In any case, according to my opinion, there is no doubt about the civil and criminal liability of the defendants’’.

Survivors’ Testimonies

  • Mr. Ioannis Vassalos (passenger): ‘’There was no plan and the crew was not on its duty positions.  The situation was out of control.’’
  • Mr. Olivier Coissard (French passenger): ‘’There were such high temperatures that our shoes melted and our bags got burnt.’’
  • Mr. Evangelos Tsoukis (passenger): ‘’Every one of us acted spontaneously. […] There was no coordinated action or any information by the crew…’’
  • Mr. Leonidas Konstantinidis (truck driver): ‘’We were trapped and fire was getting closer to us. The only option seemed to be the sea’’.

Two years from the Norman Atlantic tragedy – Due anni dalla tragedia Norman Atlantic

norman-atlantic-in-fiammeExactly two years ago, on December the 28th 2014, the NORMAN ATLANTIC ferry, property of the Italian shipowner VISEMAR and rented by the Greek company ANEK LINES, departed from Greece and directed to Ancona, caught fire in the middle of the night off the Albanian coast, and in short time went drifting off the Adriatic sea, in a storm of six meters waves and force 8 wind, with almost 500 people on board and overrun with cars, trucks and Tir carrying goods from Greece to Italy, especially olive oil, which would then fuel the flames for days. The origins of the fire are still under investigation, via a procedure of recording evidence that, as required by the Public Prosecutor of Bari, will have to verify not only the evolution of the shipping incident, but also, and above all, the possible Crew responsibilities in emergency management on board, and the companies ones for malfunctions, as it seemed clear from the start, that the latter turned the fire – started from the deck 4 of the ship, in a real holocaust for dozens of people, 10 dead and over 19 missing, imprisoning the rest of the survivors on the top and outside deck of the ship, drifting inexorably and internally devoured by flames, and to be recovered only by helicopter and transferred one by one. A difficult rescue operation because of adverse weather and sea conditions, and that, despite having involved over 20 merchant and naval ships of different nationalities and several rescue helicopters, lasted for more than two days – an infinite time for those caught between the grip of toxic smokes, flames, incandescent floors and the icy cold of the water jets – sprayed continuously by emergency ships. The very few who managed to take their seats on lifeboats or reach the floating boat dropped overboard, lived an experience of terror and horror, even worse than those who remained trapped on the burning ferry.

No fire alarm was issued, no warning from the crew, and the passengers awoke at night between coulters of smoke and panic scenes. A panic which released – in many – the worst in human race. The first to abandon ship were some of the crew, dropping quickly the only usable lifeboat, with just a third of its precious capacity of persons. During the retrieve of the passengers using the baskets lowered from helicopters, others have literally attacked the rescuers, with bites and punches, just to be saved first, others refused to leave priority to women and children. Some people threw himself into the water to escape the flames, and was quickly swallowed by the waves of the icy December sea. Some bodies of drowned victims were found after days, torn apart by evident shark bites. Nearly twenty people are missing, but the count of those missing is certainly more serious, considering the presence on board of many illegal immigrants.

In the tragedy – however – there were also scenes of altruism and heroism, as in the case of the Orthodox priest who generously helped many shipwrecked persons to climb the dangerous rope ladder thrown by the rescue ship to the lifeboat on which they stood, leaving the way to all families before falling into the sea and get lost forever; or the greek doctor, who still works in Italy, which remained on board the ferry up until the end, providing his assistance to fellow sufferers, or like some truck drivers who, at great personal risk, managed to hook the towing tugs cable to the Norman Atlantic.

A horror lived in long and intense measure, in extreme psychophysical and weather conditions, which left indelible marks inside all people escaped from death, diagnosed in terms of “post-traumatic stress disorder“, studied for the first time in World War I and Vietnam veterans, and then ascertained as a psychological pathology, typical of disaster survivors, as in the case of the collapse of the twin towers.

After two years we are still waiting for the closing stage of the preliminary investigation by the magistracy and experts appointed by the Criminal Court of Bari. A report that will hopefully shed some light on the many shadows that since the beginning we have emphasized, with regard to ship-owners, the carrier, crew, those who certified the ship but also – and above all – in the maritime great transportation system, where the law of profit – too often – seems to prevail over the safety rules and accident prevention.

Avv. Massimiliano Gabrielli a bordo del norman atlanticOur team “Giustizia per Norman Atlantic” has represented so far about fifty people whose lives were devastated in various ways in the shipping incident, as passengers or as family members of victims or missing. Since the early days we were involved because of our experience in maritime disasters such as the sinking of the “Concordia” and “Jolly Nero“, and directly in the forefront we have provided (in person) assistance for immediate needs and to return home several families, support in the investigations on the DNA for the possible identification of missing persons, aid for the recover of the vehicles following the withdrawal of the vessel seizure (a year and a half after the accident), and then starting – on one hand – filing about 50 complaints and an intense work of investigations in the criminal proceedings – through our consultants and accessing the ship, and – on the other side – opening the negotiations with Anek & Visemar lawyers, in order to achieve a fair and honorable compensation in favor of our clients. Continua a leggere

Costa Concordia case and Norman Atlantic

Costa Concordia and punitive damages

Costa Concordia and punitive damages

As known, the ruling on appeal in criminal proceedings about the sinking of Costa Concordia ship, has recently upheld the conviction of captain Francesco Schettino to 16 years in prison. Our legal team has participated in this criminal trial since the beginning, representing, as “Giustizia per la Concordia” the interests of circa a hundred passengers and one of the victims, through a civil request  of compensation filed in the criminal case, running in the court of Grosseto in first degree, and in front of the Court of appeal of Florence then.

Our work, however, it was also and above focused towards establishing facts, detection of truth and identification of ALL responsibilities that, over those undeniable, objective and subjective, of the Captain, have prepared the ground to realize the tragedy, and in particular those of the shipping company because of the many failures, the crew unpreparedness, lack of immediate demand of tugboats and criminal management of the emergency, all widely linked to a consolidated savings policy by Costa Crociere, and more generally from all the shipping companies of big ships.

In the first degree instance, our clients, which – differently many others passengers, did not accept the company offer (€ 11.000,00, giving up any further claims and rights), obtained the conviction for a provisional compensation payment by Costa Cruises, variable between 30 thousand and 50 thousand euro for each passenger. In Appeal the payment due has been increased of about 15 thousand euro, raising the provisionals in a range from 45.000,00 to 65.000,00 euro for each passenger. Up to six times the original offer , as accepted by most passengers!

About punitive damages, the case will proceed in Supreme Court, as recently in our country, we faced many openings to this important side effect of a conviction, in presence of gross negligence.

We can not but emphasize that the compensation ruling on the Concordia case, and the positive results obtained in that criminal trial, can ad will reflect also directly on the Norman Atlantic case, as the winding parameters of the damage used by the courts, took into account the existence of psychological harm, in terms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), resulting from the participation of our clients to a traumatic experience that left indelible marks in their lives.

Knowing in detail the personal story lived on board of the Norman Atlantic by all of our clients that we assist in this other major naval disaster, we can state without a doubt, that their experience on board of the ferry on fire has been extremely stronger than the one lived aboard of the Concordia, both in terms of duration (up to two days) that of the physical and psychological intensity (exposure to extreme conditions, intoxication from fumes, no assistance on board etc.) and finally major financial losses in the event for the loss of all goods and personal effects, destruction of vehicles and transports etc.

It is worth noting that insurers of both vessels are in fact the same subjects, (P&I club, referring to a joint consortium of shipping companies), and then all damages paid in favor of the Concordia passengers are an objective parameter that must be taken into consideration both at the time of further negotiations in the case of Norman Atlantic, and also in the case of a winding-up on the outcome of the criminal trial, in course of establishment in Bari.

In NA criminal proceedings, the Public Prosecutor office of Bari is finalizing the unloading and disposal of all destroyed vehicles by the outside decks of the ship, and experts are concluding their investigations, aimed at identifying the causes of the fire, the propagation mode of management emergency.

So we trust that soon there will be an acceleration in both the criminal proceedings in the possible negotiations in the accident of Norman Atlantic, which remains one of the largest in recent years in the Mediterranean.

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Costa Concordia and punitive damages

Costa Concordia and punitive damages

Come noto la sentenza di appello nel processo penale sul naufragio della Costa Concordia ha recentemente confermato la condanna del comandante Francesco Schettino a 16 anni di reclusione. Il nostro team legale ha partecipato sia dall’inizio a questo processo, rappresentando gli interessi di un centinaio di passeggeri e di una delle vittime, attraverso la costituzione di parte civile e la richiesta di una liquidazione risarcitorio già in sede penale da parte del tribunale di Grosseto prima, e della Corte d’appello di Firenze poi.Il nostro lavoro, però, si è incentrato anche e sopratutto in direzione dell’accertamento dei fatti, dell’accertamento della verità e della individuazione di TUTTE le responsabilità che, oltre quelle innegabili, oggettive e soggettive, del Comandante, hanno preparato il terreno al realizzi della tragedia, ed in particolare quelle della compagnia di navigazione per via dei tanti malfunzionamenti, della impreparazione dell’equipaggio, della mancata richiesta immediata dei rimorchiatori e della criminale gestione della emergenza, il tutto diffusamente legato ad una consolidata politica di risparmio da parte di Costa Crociere, e più in generale delle compagnie di navigazione delle grandi navi.

In primo grado i nostri clienti, che non hanno accettato la offerta di pagamento della società di 11mila euro (accettando la quale in moltissimi altri passeggeri, invece, hanno purtroppo rinunciato ad ogni ulteriore pretesa e diritto) hanno ottenuto la condanna di Costa Crociere al pagamento di una provvisionale sui risarcimenti, variabile tra 30mila e 50 mila euro per ciascun passeggero. In Appello tutti i risarcimenti sono stati aumentati di circa 15 mila euro, portando le provvisionali dai 45mila a 65 mila euro per ciascun passeggero. Fino a sei volte la offerta originaria, accettata dalla maggior parte degli altri passeggeri!

Riguardo ai danni punitivi, proseguiamo in Cassazione, visto che nel nostro paese si sono avuti molti riconoscimenti di questa particolare forma di condanna in presenza di colpa grave, e che le Sezioni Unite sono state recentemente chiamate a pronunciarsi al riguardo.

 Al riguardo non possiamo non evidenziare che la sentenza sulla Concordia ed i positivi risultati ottenuti nel processo penale non può che riflettersi anche sul caso del Norman Atlantic, in quanto i parametri di liquidazione del danno da parte dei giudici, hanno tenuto conto sostanzialmente della sussistenza di un danno psicologico, in termini di disturbo da stress post traumatico (ptsd), derivante dalla partecipazione dei nostri clienti ad una esperienza traumatica che ha lasciato segni indelebili nella loro vita.

Conoscendo nel dettaglio la storia personale vissuta a bordo del Norman Atlantic da parte dei tanti clienti che assistiamo anche in questo disastro navale, siamo in grado di affermare senza ombra di dubbio che la loro esperienza a bordo del traghetto in fiamme è stata estremamente più forte di quella vissuta a bordo della Concordia, sia in termini di durata (fino a due giorni) che di intensità fisica e psicologica (esposizione a condizioni psicofisiche estreme, intossicazione dai fumi, mancata assistenza a bordo etc.) ed infine maggiori danni patrimoniali in caso di perdita di tutti i beni ed effetti personali, distruzione degli automezzi e trasporti etc.

Vale la pena evidenziare che gli assicuratori di entrambe le navi sono di fatto gli stessi, riferibili ad un consorzio solidale tra compagnie di navigazione, e quindi i danni liquidati in favore dei passeggeri della Concordia costituiscono un parametro che dovrà essere preso in considerazione tanto in sede di ulteriori trattative per il caso del Norman Atlantic, che nel caso di una liquidazione ad esito del processo penale in corso di instaurazione a Bari.

 Nel procedimento penale, la Procura di Bari sta tuttora ultimando allo scarico e smaltimento degli automezzi distrutti dai ponti esterni della nave, ed i periti stanno concludendo le loro attività di indagine, volte alla individuazione delle cause dell’incendio, modalità di propagazione di gestione della emergenza.

 Confidiamo quindi che a breve ci sarà una accelerazione sia nel procedimento penale che nelle possibili trattative nell’incidente del Norman Atlantic, che resta uno dei più gravi degli ultimi anni nel mediterraneo.

Norman Atlantic – finished unloading from deck 3 – Terminato lo sbarco mezzi ponte 3

IMG_1034It’s been completed the sorting and unloading of the burned vehicles from deck 3 of the ship Norman Atlantic, docked in the port of Bari and destroyed by fire in 12/28/2014, causing the death of 11 people and 18 missing, for all causes yet to be ascertained. All passenger cars and trucks, extracted with great difficulty from the company contracted by the Public Prosecutor’s office in Bari under the direction of experts and scientific police and with the participation of our consultant Prof. Ing. Antonio Scamardella, were totally devastated by fire and high temperatures and reduced to a shapeless mass of metal, so it was carried out disposal and scrapping of vehicles.

The “sterile” area, released from vehicles – was immediately interdicted in order to allow the court experts to further investigate the causes and modes of fire development. It does not appear to be any biological specimen found, belonging to someone of the many dispersed.

The operations on the remaining bridges are therefore suspended and will continue after these scientific findings, until full unloading of the ship.

Our legal team has already from the beginning notified to Anek the full list of clients embarked with their cars, in order to allow verification and possible recovery of the vehicles and especially of their belongings and personal property, in some cases all they had, contained inside the vehicles.


IMG_7003Sono state portate a termine le operazioni di smassamento e scarico degli automezzi incendiati dal ponte 3 della nave Norman Atlantic, ormeggiata nel porto di Bari e distrutta dall’incendio del 28.12.2014, provocando la morte di 11 persone e 18 dispersi, per cause tutte ancora da accertare. Tutte le autovetture e gli autotreni, estratti con molte difficoltà dalla ditta incaricata dalla Procura di Bari sotto la direzione dei periti e della polizia scientifica e con la partecipazione del nostro consulente Prof. Ing. Antonio Scamardella, risultavano totalmente devastate dal fuoco e dalle temperature altissime, e ridotte ad una massa informe di lamiere, quindi si è proceduto allo smaltimento e rottamazione dei veicoli.

L’area “sterile”, liberata dagli automezzi – è stata immediatamente interdetta al fine di consentire ai periti del Tribunale di approfondire le indagini sulle cause e modalità di sviluppo dell’incendio. Non risulta essere stato rinvenuto alcun reperto biologico appartenente a qualcuno dei molti dispersi. Le operazioni sui restanti ponti sono quindi sospese e proseguiranno dopo questi accertamenti scientifici, fino al completo smassamento della nave.

Il nostro team di legali ha già da inizio comunicato ai responsabili di Anek l’elenco completo dei clienti che si erano imbarcati con le proprie auto, al fine di consentire la verifica e possibile recupero dei mezzi e sopratutto dei loro effetti e beni personali, in alcuni casi tutto quello che avevano, contenuti all’interno dei veicoli.