ABA Journal

For vacationers encountering trouble on cruise ships, US laws may provide little help

The little girl with the Shirley Temple curls clung to her father, too frightened to cry.

She and her parents were aboard the cruise ship Costa Concordia, which began listing badly and taking on water shortly after scraping along a rocky reef off Italy’s Tuscan coast and gouging a bus-size hole in the port side just below the water line.

A year and half later, the silent child still makes a lasting impression on Georgia and Dean Ananias, a Downey, Calif., couple aboard the ship when it capsized on the night of Jan. 13, 2012. They were traveling with their adult daughters, Valerie and Cindy.

After trying to escape the ship for nearly five hours, the Ananiases believed they had only minutes left to live. They said their goodbyes and steeled themselves for the inevitable. “We knew we were going to die,” says Georgia.

The Ananias family describes being indelibly scarred by the thought of impending death and the screams of horror all around them. They are also haunted by the fact that they survived and at least 32 others didn’t.

Their recurring nightmares are one reason they hired Miami maritime lawyer John Hickey to sue the cruise line on their behalf. They say post-traumatic stress is every bit as troubling as the physical injuries they sustained. Besides numerous bruises and abrasions, Dean blew out his knee jumping 20 feet onto a bobbing lifeboat.

Click here to read the rest of “Cruising Toward Calamity” from the November issue of the ABA Journal.

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