Archivi tag: trial

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

The investigation phase has been closed; Norman Atlantic approaches the criminal trial

norman atlantic chiuse indagini preliminari processo penale
A big step towards the criminal trial that will bring finally light and justice to the Norman Atlantic marittime disaster; great satisfaction from our legal team, not only because we are approaching the trial, but also because the Public Prosecutor has clearly listened to the complaints of our clients, adding to the accused list all the crew members who did not provide the necessary assistance to passengers. There was no loading plan for the heavy trucks, and the fire started to develop from one of the refrigerated trucks, because there were not enough power outlets and the truck drivers kept their engines running to cool the goods. A hypothesis that had already made its way in the days following the fire, as a malpractice prohibited by navigation regulations. And there were other and numerous negligence, both in the risk assessment and during the evacuation, with extreme disorganization and several crew members who left the ship way before the passengers were safe. Now the Bari prosecutor, after 3 years close investigations, adding all the crew members to the accused, mainly for our multiple reports of severe complaints from our clients for abandonment of the ship; 30 people and two companies, Visemar and Anek Lines, now face the criminale trial for the shipwreck of the Norman Atlantic ferry, which took place off the Albanian coast on the night of December 28 2014 after a fire broke out on board that cost the lives of 31 people, including some Syrian migrants, even minors, and the wounding of others 64.

All the subjects under investigation are liable for involuntary cooperation in shipwreck, culpable homicide and multiple culpable injuries. Numerous violations on security and the navigation code are also contested. To the original 18 people already in the file of the p.p’s office of Bari, Ettore Cardinali and Federico Perrone Capano, they added others 12: they are the legal representative of Visemar, society owner of the ferry, Carlo Visentini, the two legal representatives of the Greek Anek Lines, charterer of the Norman Atlantic, in addition to the commander Argilio Giacomazzi and 26 crew members. 6 of them also contend that they had left the ship avoiding to help passengers way before they were safe. A series of negligences emerged in the expert’s report of the Port Authority of Bari, above all on the assessment of the risks and on the organization of the operations of evacuation of the ship, which would have caused the shipwreck and the death of some passengers. About the causes of the shipwreck we already ran trough a probationary incident phase that lasted about two years with numerous accesses aboard the wreck, moored since February 2015 in the port of Bari, and still subjected to seizure.

The experts report about a ineffective firefighting system and unprepared crew. The fire supposedly started from a refrigerated truck running a diesel engine during navigation. Furthermore, according to the accusatory hypothesis, a plan to load the 128 TIR on board (of which about 60 refrigerators) was missing, arranged on the bridges in an approximate manner, without respecting the distance between the vehicles and the availability of elettric power, forcing hauliers to keep the engines running. And both the captain and carrier companies were full aware of this malpractice. We are also waiting to call accusation about the reason why the captain and the shipping companies have decided to prevent the intervention of the Albanian tugs to wait the arrival from Bari of the rescue, forcing the passengers to fear for their life two day on a ship adrift in flames and in the stormy sea.

In the next few weeks we will update all our clients with more detail on the following steps, about the civil case running in Bari, relations between civil and criminal proceedings, and strategies of our team in order to bring justice and compensation to all.

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’’.

Depositata la relazione dei periti -Expert’s report is being filed

IMG_7220NORMAN ATLANTIC criminal trial: after a long wait, it has being finally filed the report, drafted from the experts appointed by the GIP almost a year ago; it is a monumental mass of data, which we will have in our hands shortly.

Given the complexity of the investigations conducted on assignment from Bari Criminal Court, the monumental mass of electronic data annexed to the report and the heterogeneity of the various issues that were addressed into consideration from the college of experts, it was agreed to establish a few number of hearings to present the results.

The hearings will be held – March 20 and 31, and from April the 3rd to the 8th of April – in the Bunker Courtroom of Bitonto, considering the need for adequate space because of the large number of parties allegedly involved in the Trial.

As known, in the meantime we launched a 24 million euro civil action in the Court of Bari, and we are fully confident that the results of the criminal investigations will be decisive to ensure the gross negligence of Anek and Visemar in the Norman Atlantic maritime disaster, canceling the indemnity limits for passengers and victims imposed by the Athens Convention of 1974, and push this trial towards the recognition of punitive damages to be borne by the two shipping companies.


Processo penale NORMAN ATLANTIC: dopo una lunga attesa è stata finalmente depositata la perizia redatta dagli esperti nominati dal GIP quasi un anno fa; si tratta di una imponente massa di dati, che avremo a nostra disposizione a breve.

Vista la complessità delle indagini svolte su incarico del Tribunale penale di Bari, della monumentale massa di dati informatici allegati alla relazione e la eterogeneità dei vari aspetti presi in considerazione dal collegio dei periti, si è deciso di fissare un certo numero di udienze per illustrare i risultati.

Le udienze si terranno il 20 ed il 31 marzo e dal 3 all’8 aprile nell’aula Bunker di Bitonto, considerando la necessità di uno spazio adeguato per via dell’alto numero di parti presumibilmente interessate al processo.

Come noto, abbiamo nel frattempo avviato la azione civile da 24 milioni di euro presso il Tribunale di Bari, e siamo del tutto convinti che i risultati delle indagini penali saranno risolutivi per accertare la colpa grave di Anek e Visemar nel disastro marittimo del Norman Atlantic, annullando i massimali risarcitori per i passeggeri e le vittime imposti dalla Convenzione di Atene del 1974, e spingere questo processo verso il riconoscimento dei danni punitivi a carico delle due compagnie di navigazione.

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.