Sea Diamond Passengers File Lawsuit Against Cruise Line

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Parents and passengers from Georgia and North Carolina file suit against Louis Hellenic Cruise line from Greece and EF Travel, Inc. from Cambridge Massachusetts for Capsized Vessel: The Sea Diamond.

This week, the Law Office of Todd Krouner filed suit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, in White Plains, New York, on behalf of passengers who were aboard the M/S Sea Diamond ("Sea Diamond") in Greece, which crashed, and sank on April 5 and 6, 2007 respectively. The related cases are pending in the United States District Court Southern District of New York, and are filed under civil docket number 07-CV-3665.

Jacqueline M. James, Of Counsel to the Law Offices of Todd J. Krouner, has been retained by a number of groups of passengers who were traveling together from Westchester County, New York, Carrollton, Georgia and Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Suits are now being filed on behalf of member of a number of different educational touring groups being operated by EF Travel, Inc. ( "EF Tours"). To date, The Law Offices of Todd J. Krouner has filed complaints on behalf of forty-eight passengers.

EF Tours specializes in organizing educational travel groups to foreign countries for school age children. Each tour member purchased an "escorted" travel package from EF Tours. EF Tours had student groups from Georgia, North Carolina and California on board the Sea Diamond. EF Tours in turn arranged for the group to take a four-day cruise through the Greek Islands with Louis Cruise Lines on the Sea Diamond. Plaintiffs have also filed against Louis Public Company, Limited (d/b/a Louis Hellenic Cruise Lines) ("Louis Cruise").

Litigation update

On August 3, 2007, the initial court conference was held before the Honorable William Conner of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Counsel for Globus withdrew its request to file a motion to force each passenger traveling with a Globus tour group to arbitrate all claims in Colorado. This represents a significant procedural victory for all Globus passengers.

Additionally, counsel for Louis Cruise, waived service in Greece under the international treaty known as The Hague Convention. This is another substantial procedural development because the plaintiffs may now move forward, and will not have to incur the significant expense and delay associated with having to serve legal papers in Greece.

The Sea Diamond capsizes

(All information according to the lawsuit except where otherwise indicated.)

The Sea Diamond had 1,547 passengers and crew onboard. Most of the 1,195 passengers were Americans and Canadians. A large number of the passengers were minors traveling with school groups being chaperoned by EF Tours and parents. On April 5, 2007, at around 4 p.m., the ship ran aground on a well-marked volcanic reef east of NEA Caiman, off of the Greek Island Santorini. On April 7, 2007, Greek authorities announced the Captain and a number of the crewmembers, were being charged by Greek authorities for their negligence. The charges include causing a shipwreck through negligence, breaching international shipping safety regulations and polluting the environment. The Greek authorities have also announced that the charges maybe amended to include criminal charges. The Greek authorities have noted that the underwater reef was well marked on available navigational equipment and maps. Additionally, a number of the vessel's air-tight doors failed to properly function, allowing water to flood the cabins. A representative from Louis Cruise Lines has publicly admitted that the crash was the result of human error on the part of Louis Cruise personnel.

On April 28, 2007, the Wall Street Journal reported that eye-witness accounts have revealed that the evacuation was poorly planned and implemented. The passengers were forced to endure hours of chaos, fear and images of their death, and fear for health and safety of their loved ones. Maritime safety guidelines generally require that a ship be evacuated within an hour. Two of the passengers, a father and daughter (not a party to this action) and are presumed to have drowned and their bodies have not yet been found. The survivors suffered an array, of injuries and losses, caused by the crash and the clumsy and unorganized evacuation, which left many without life jackets, instructions or the proper egress from the ship.

Since the crash Louis Cruise Lines has been sluggish in its response and has suggested it is only willing to pay passengers a nominal amount for their loss, injuries and distress. To date, EF Tours has failed to make full and timely payments under the insurance policy purchased by each group member or to otherwise compensate the victims. Plaintiffs' complaint seeks compensatory and punitive damages against Louis Cruise and EF Tours for their respective negligence and gross negligence.

One of plaintiff's complaints is available online at http://www.krounerlaw.com. For further information contact Jacqueline M. James.

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