Compensation for Disaster Cruise Holiday

The Italian subsidiary of Carnival Cruises responsible for the Costa Concordia has offered more than 3,000 passengers who were rescued from the stricken ship 11,000 Euros (14,460 dollars/9,180 pounds) in compensation for disaster cruise holiday.

The offer has been made to reflect the cost of personal effects lost in the tragedy and also any psychological trauma that passengers may have sustained during the sinking of the ship and rescue effort. The same level of compensation for disaster cruise holiday applies to children and, in addition to the offer, the cost of the disaster cruise holiday and any transportation costs to return home will also be refunded.

Those passengers that sustained a physical injury will be assessed individually, and passengers prepared to accept the offer of disaster cruise holiday compensation can expect to receive their settlement within a week. However, the Carnival Cruises payout has attracted condemnation from some consumer groups, who have criticised the proviso that passengers accepting the disaster cruise holiday compensation offer will have to forgo any future claims against the company.

The consumer group Codacons claims that passengers should be entitled to a minimum disaster cruise holiday compensation settlement of 125,000 Euros (164,300 dollars/104,300 pounds) for each passenger, and has recommended that passengers seek professional medical advice before accepting the company´s offer of compensation for disaster cruise holiday.


Personal Injury Claim Settled after Pensioner´s Leg Amputation

A pensioner, who broke his leg in three places when falling into a hole at his local park, has been awarded 160,000 pounds in settlement of his personal injury claim against his local council after the injuries resulted in the amputation of his leg.

Edward Tuffrey (67), a retired window cleaner from Barnes, Middlesex, was walking his dog in the Suffolk Road Recreational Ground in May 2006 when his foot plunged into a ten-inch hole in the ground. Despite the insertion of a metal plate and nine screws, the leg failed to heal and after the metal plate snapped in 2008, an infection developed in the leg which resulted in its amputation.

Edward made a personal injury claim against Richmond Council on the grounds that he and other local residents had complained to the council about the state of the recreational ground for several years without anything being done. Richmond Council were found negligent and responsible for Edward´s injuries by the Mayor and City of London Court in October 2010 but given leave to appeal.

Shortly before the appeal case was due to be heard in December 2011, the council and Edward´s solicitors arrived at a negotiated settlement which will see the council pay Edward 160,000 pounds for his injuries.


Tokyo Agrees Multi Trillion Yen Compensation Package

Japan´s parliament has approved a plan to help the victims of the Tsunami which struck the north-east coast of the country in March, destabilising the Fukushima Daiichi power station and forcing 80,000 people from their homes.

The plan will create a fund to pay damages to the victims without compromising the future of the electricity producing company responsible for the Fukushima nuclear reactor – Tepco.

Tepco reported losses of $15 billion earlier this year, and faces a weight of compensation claims that would force the company into bankruptcy – effectively leaving the country´s capital without power.

The Japanese government have budgeted for a 2 trillion yen ($26 billion) initial contribution to the fund, with further payments being made by other nuclear power operators and by the restructuring of Tepco.

Once all the claims have been assessed, the total amount of compensation is anticipated to exceed $100 billion on top of the huge amount of money already allocated to rebuild areas devastated by the tsunami and the earthquake that caused it.


3 Million Dollar Settlement for Cruise Ship Slip Injury

A woman, who slipped and fractured her knee cap on a Carnival cruise ship, has been awarded almost three million dollars in damages.

Denise Kaba from Florida was a passenger on the Carnival Pride in August 2009, when she slipped and fell on the pool deck which had been treated with a resin that made it hard and slippery when wet.

As a result of her slip and fall, Denise suffered a fractured patella and had to undergo surgery six times to enable it to heal correctly. It was also claimed in her action at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida that she may have to have total knee replacements in the future.

Denise´s legal representative alleged in court that Carnival were aware of previous injuries associated with slips on the pool deck since it had been treated, yet had done nothing to make the surface safer or warn travellers of the potential dangers.

Agreeing with Denise that Carnival were liable for her injuries, U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungara awarded 2,998,155.70 dollars in damages, consisting of more than 220,000 dollars in past medical expenses, nearly 375,000 dollars in future medical expenses, just over 170,000 dollars in loss of earning capacity, 200,000 dollars for pain and suffering in the past and nearly 2 million dollars for future non-economic damages.


Largest Compensation Payment Ever in the UK for Car Accident Injury

The High Court in London has awarded what is thought to be the largest personal injury compensation package ever awarded in the UK to Chrissie Johnson, now aged 20.  The award was for severe injuries, including brain damage, that occurred in an traffic accident in November 2006, when she was a passenger collided with a lorry on the Epping Road, near Ongar, England.

The family has already received a payment £2.5 million, with another lump sum of £4 to be paid immediately.  However, the the most notable element of the award is taxfree payments of £300,000-a-year to cover the costs of providing care for as long as the victim lives.

The total value of the compensation package has been estimated at  £17 million.

Such as system of annual payments is under investigation in Ireland.


California Pays $20 Million Compensation to Jaycee Dugard

The Californian Legislature has voted to pay Jaycee Dugard and her two daughters a total of $20 million in compensation over the failure of the state’s parole service to supervise convicted kidnapper and rapist Phillip Garrido.

The settlement had been negotiated after Dugard sued last February the state of California for “psychological, physical and emotional injury; loss of livelihood” during her 18 years in captivity.

Duggard was held in sexual bondage in a hidden backyard compound by Phillip Garrido, who fathered her two children.

The payout avoids a court hearing that would focussed on a long series of serious parole supervision lapses.  These lapses are already well documented in an authorative report by the California Office of the Inspector General.

Garrido had served only 11 years of a 50-year federal sentence for a pervious kidnapping and raped and was under federal supervision when when Jaycee Duggard. Californian parole agents incorrectly classified Garrido as a low-risk offender, ignored a report that indeciated the hidden backyard area where Jaycee Duggard was imprisoned, ignored alerts from Garrido’s CPS anklet, and ignored the presense of a one of Jaycee Duggard’s daughter during a parole visit.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is expected to sign the bill into law to allow the payment to be made.


Contrasts Between Bhopal and Deepwater Horizon Highlight Differences in Corporate Ethics

The rapid response by BP in setting up a $20 billion compensation fund for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill has resulted in headlines in Indian newspapers alleging double standards.  The reality is a bit more complicated.

The 1983 Union Carbide India Limited pesticide plant disaster is bar far the worst industrial catastrophe in history, causing 2,259 deaths immediately and about 15,000 eventually.  The official estimates from the Indian government are 558,125 injuries, of which 38,478 were partial disablement and about 3,900 were severely and permanently disabled. There are also allegations that 390 tons of toxic chemicals have been abandoned at the plant that continue to leak and pollute the groundwater.

The disaster is also often cited as one of the worst examples of lack of corporate responsibility, employing tactics that reduce or delay financial liabilities.

Delay Court Cases
Some 26 years after the disaster, there are civil and criminal cases still pending in the United States District Court of Manhattan and the District Court of Bhopal.  In some cases, potential defendants are deceased and in many cases, the witnesses can not be expected to remember all the relevant details.

Divert Blame to Elsewhere

The current corporate owners, Dow Chemical Company, has an entire Web site dedicated to denying various allegations against it. The company position is that the disaster was the result of industrial sabotage.

Limit Liability
The company somehow managed to persuade the Indian government  in 1989 of freeing it of any liabilities by making a once-off payment that in no way covered the costs involved.

All of these actions are in stark contrast to the way in which BP is handling the Deepwater Horizon oil spill: rapid admission of guilt, unlimited resources to resolve the problem, and a massive prepayment of compensation.

The allegations of double standards are almost certainly not the result of different treatment for American victims versus Indian victims. They are primarily due to different companies having different corporate ethical standards.


SocGen Seeks 4.9 Billion Euro in Compensation Claim

The French bank Société Générale SA has told a French court that it wants €4.9 billion in compensation from former employee Jerome Kerviel, who will fact up to five years in prison and a fine of €375,000 if convicted of charges of breach-of-trust, forgery, and entering false data into computers.   Under the French legal system, Société Générale has the right to demand damages as the victim. The amount claimed by Société Générale are the losses from what the bank says were unauthorised trades made by Kerviel.

The court has heard from Kerviel’s direct supervisor, Eric Cordelle, that the trading desk for Kerviel’s team frequently exceeded its trading limits. Cordelle also revealed that he had neither the resources or tools to monitor individual traders’ activities.


9/11 Workers in $712.5 Million Injury Claims Settlement

An agreement has been reached for compensation for 10,000 workers claiming illnesses following the September 11, 2001, World Trade Center attack in New York City.  The rescue and cleanup workers were exposed to smoke and airborne debris. New York City has agreed on a $712.5 million injury compensation fund.
U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein has stated that victims will be  “assured of a fair deal that puts money in their hand fast”.
The compensation for victims claiming debilitating respiratory diseases who contracted severe asthma within seven months of exposure will receive awards in the range of $800,000 and $1 million. The compensation agreed for deaths is in the range of $1.5 million.
The next step in the process is for at least 95% of the plaintiffs to consent to the agreement to make it legally binding on everyone.
Some interesting aspects of the deal:

  • Workers with no specific injury but who claim fear of becoming sick have been awarded $3,250.
  • Everyone is to get a special insurance policy for $100,00 for specific blood and respiratory cancers.

Road Traffic Accident Victim Sues Google over Faulty Directions

Google has been named in a road traffic accident claim in the United States. It has been claimed that Google Maps provided Lauren Rosenberg of Los Angeles, California, with dangerous walking directions while she was Park City, Utah.
The compensation claim is primarily against the driver of the car, but Google is also named in the lawsuit because it is alleged that Google Maps told her to walk along “Deer Valley Drive” – which happens to be State Route 224 and does not have a footpath. Google has defended itself by pointing out that the mobile version of Google Maps has a warning: ‘Walking directions (beta): Use caution’. Interestingly, the desktop/laptop version of the warning is more specific about the dangers of using Google Maps for walking directions and contains additional text: “Use caution–This route may be missing sidewalks or pedestrian paths.”

This is the first known example of a mapping serving being named in a pedestrian accident claim. While it is clear that Google is not primarily responsible for the road traffic accident, the solicitors for injured party is claiming contributory negligence.


Toyota Recall Starts Flood of Compensation Claims

In a ruling that will have important implications worldwide for compensation cases, the US government has proposed a civil penalty of $16.4 million on Toyota because the company  “knowingly hid a dangerous defect” that caused its vehicles to accelerate unexpectedly. Toyota was initially praised by US authorities for the way it handled recalls to repair faulty accelerator pedals on more than 8 million cars globally (including 2.3 million cars and trucks in the USA).

However, it later emerged that Toyota waited at least four months before reporting the faulty accelerator pedals to US regulators, in contravention to safety regulations that require safety defects to be reported in five business days.

Toyota is facing at least 177 consumer and shareholder lawsuits seeking class-action status and at least 56 suits claiming personal injuries or deaths caused by sudden acceleration incidents.  The United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has estimated that 52 people have died in Toyota accelerator-related crashes. A much higher number of people have escaped death but been injured. On April 9th, 2010, the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ordered all federal lawsuits related to the Toyota recall should be heard together at the Central District of California before Judge James Selna.

There is also an unusual case of a Toyota Camry driver who claimed he tried to stop his car but crashed into the back of another car, killing three people.  The driver in the read end car accident was sentenced to eight years in prison.  The conviction was unusual because the car was clearly out of control having dodged cars at an intersection prior to finally crashing, and the driver had family members in the car. The investigation at the time focussed on the brakes, which were found to be working correctly, rather than investigating the accelerator.

Toyota car owners in the USA are also suing for the reduced resale value of the cards due to the recalls.  The claim is supported by various industry guides to the resale value of cars, such as Kelley Blue Book, which lowered the resale value of recalled Toyota cars by an average of 3.5 percent.  The price reduction was up to $750 for a Toyota Sequoia.  The lawsuits related to lost resale value are considered a much greater financial liability than the lawsuits related to crashes because there are millions of Toyota car owners that may be entitled to compensation.  In a previous recall in the USA, Ford Explorer owners were given vouchers worth between $300 and $500 towards the cost of a new Ford car.

Toyota Recalls in Ireland

Toyota Ireland announced in February that it was recalling 26,000 cars in Ireland, although this number was later reduced to just over 18,000. There was immediate speculation that drivers whose car was subject to the recall but ignored the recall and any potential problems with their vehicles could be potentially liable in the case of an accident and even face charges related to negligence. Toyota Ireland issued a statement on the issue of legal liability: “A driver of a potentially affected vehicle could only be the subject of a charge under the Road Traffic Act if involved in an accident if he or she is aware that their vehicle is the subject of this recall campaign and that he or she is aware of the signs of wear and tear, symptomatic of the defect in the accelerator mechanism and they have become apparent, namely the accelerator sticking or becoming slow to return to idle, and they continue to drive the vehicle in this condition.”
Toyota is clearly exposed to product liability claims due to its faulty accelerators, and will no doubt be involved in many road traffic accident claims, as well as pedestrian accident claims, claims from passengers in car accidents, and most of all, claims for rear-end car accidents where the rear driver is driving a Toyota car.


Students Wins Compensation From College That Ignored Special Needs

Rosie Watson, aged 48, a deaf student at Durham University, has reach a settlement of £25,000 after the university repeatedly failed to take her profound deafness into account.

Ms Watson claimed that her tutors were not informed about her special needs due to her deafness or failed to take them into account, and continued to deny assistance even when she requested it.  Ms Watson said that ignoring her special needs effectively meant that the university discriminated against her, which forced her to leave in her third year. The compensation claim was supported by Darlington Association on Disability.

The settlement was to reimburse her college fees, a student loan, but also for injury to her feelings and psychiatric damage.

Durham University denied the claims and paid the compensation to Ms Watson without any admission of liability.


BP Facing Massive Compensation Claims for Oil Leak

BP is facing massive compensation claims for the Deepwater Horizon rig, which was sunk by an explosion on April 22nd. The result was a burst underwater oil pipe leaking about 10,000 barrels of oil a day.  The questions about contributory negligence have already started, with BP blaming the accident on drilling firm Transocean, the maker of the equipment that alledgedly failed and caused the explosion.  Wikipedia has published a particularly comprehensive article, considering it’s an ongoing event.