March 31 (Bloomberg) -- A Carnival Corp. cruise liner was released to sail from a Texas port by a U.S. judge who ordered it seized yesterday in a lawsuit over a death in the Costa Concordia shipwreck off Italy.
U.S. Magistrate Judge John Froeschner released the MS Carnival Triumph today from a seizure order holding the cruise liner in its home port of Galveston, said John Eaves Jr., a lawyer for the victim’s family.
The Triumph, which is owned by the same company that owns the Costa Concordia, was sought as security in a lawsuit that was also filed March 30 in Galveston federal court by the family of Siglinde Stumpf, a German tourist who died in the shipwreck.
“The matter involving the Carnival Triumph has been resolved, and the ship is now expected to depart from Galveston momentarily,” said Jennifer De La Cruz, a spokeswoman for Miami-based Carnival, the world’s largest cruise-ship operator.
The Triumph was allowed to board passengers and cargo while the seizure order was in effect. The 2,758-passenger ship provides year-round service from the Houston area to ports in the Caribbean and Mexico. It was scheduled to depart around 4 p.m. local time today for a five-day trip to Yucatan and Cozumel.
Shot Over the Bow
Eaves said in a telephone interview earlier today that the Triumph could be freed from the seizure order if the cruise line agreed to post a $10 million security bond in the German tourist’s lawsuit. Details of the resolution, which was reached about 30 minutes before departure time, are confidential, Eaves said in an e-mailed statement.
Eaves, based in Jackson, Mississippi, said he’s part of an international consumer movement lobbying for increased oversight and safety standards in the global cruise industry. He said 16 cruise ships have sunk worldwide in the past 20 years. At least 25 people died after the Costa Concordia ran aground off Italy in January.
Eaves said he filed Stumpf’s lawsuit in Galveston to target the Triumph, which he said has “the same inadequate safety standards as the Costa Concordia, exactly the same.”
“We’ve not been able to get Carnival’s attention, so this is our shot over the bow to let them know we’re serious about changing the law and maritime standards,” Eaves said. “We want a uniform set of safety standards, and we won’t stop until we get it.”
Carnival said on March 9 it had a net loss of $139 million in the first quarter, compared with net income of $152 million in the year-earlier period.
Fallout from the shipwreck of the Costa Concordia, which ran aground off the Italian island of Giglio, will extend through 2012, the company said in a statement accompanying its earnings release.
Carnival’s troubles compounded when another Costa Cruises ship, the Allegra, was towed to shore in the Seychelles islands in the Indian Ocean after catching fire on Feb. 27, and 22 guests on the Carnival Splendor were robbed on land in Mexico.
The case is Kai Stumpf v. Carnival Plc, 3:12-cv-0099, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas (Galveston).
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