Costa Cruises, the company operating Costa Concordia cruise ship that ran aground off Italy is facing a class-action lawsuit in the US.
Italy’s consumer association Codacons and two US law firms said would file the suit against Costa Cruises on behalf of the passengers.
They want at least $160,000 for each passenger on the ship.
Meanwhile Italian officials say the search for 21 people still missing after the disaster will continue until the whole ship has been searched.
The rescue operation continued overnight in dry parts of the Costa Concordia.
Divers are now going into submerged parts at depths of up to 14 m with explosives to open up previously unsearched areas.
Reports say the grounded vessel is shifting at a rate of a few millimetres per hour.
If the ship slips into deeper water, fuel tanks could rupture threatening one of the most unspoilt parts of the Mediterranean.
Costa Cruises, the company operating Costa Concordia cruise ship that ran aground off Italy is facing a class-action lawsuit in the US
Costa Cruises, owned by US-based Carnival Group, has blamed the ship’s captain Francesco Schettino for last week’s crash, in which at least 11 people were killed.
The Costa Concordia hit rocks off the coast of the Tuscan island of Giglio with more than 4,200 people on board a week ago. Hundreds were injured.
Relatives of victims are expected to come to Giglio, which is being visited by Senate President Renato Schifani, the number two in the Italian government.
Mitchell Proner, a lawyer with Proner & Proner, said: “Along with Codacons, we have formed an association and our firms are collectively going to be filing a suit in Miami, by Wednesday next week, on behalf of all the victims of the Costa Concordia disaster.”
He said claimants would be seeking compensation for continued medical care, loss of earnings as well as the psychological impact they had suffered while trying to get off the ship.
Mitchell Proner said that some of the claimants – currently 110 – would seek two or three times the minimum claim, while the worse cases could seek as much as 1million euros.
Costa Cruises said it was open to the concerns of all consumer associations and individual passengers.
“The company understands those concerns and will respond in due course, but for now, it wants to concentrate on dealing with the immediate tragedy,” said a spokesman for Costa.
“As an initial gesture, it has already sent letters to all those passengers on board asking them to detail their expenses and any costs they might have incurred so reimbursements can be made.”
Costa Cruises has blamed Captain Francesco Schettino for committing “grave errors of judgement” by steering the ship too close to Giglio on an “unauthorized manoeuvre”.
Captain Francesco Schettino is currently under house arrest suspected of manslaughter, which he denies.
Costa Cruises has begun the process of launching a civil claim against Francesco Schettino in Italy. But Mitchell Proner said that the firm could not pin all responsibility for the disaster on a “rogue captain”.
“It’s easy to say this captain acted alone,” Mitchell Proner said.
“There are indications that there have been regular route deviations in the past. There should have been safeguards on board, where were the alarms?
“At the time of the Titanic it might have been easy to say that radars didn’t exist. Nowadays, with all the technology, it isn’t. There had to be a failure in the system that allowed this to happen.”
The president of Codacons, Marco Ramadori, said Costa Cruises’ offer was insufficient.
“They are offering to refund the cost of the ticket as if you had missed a plane and lost your luggage. You cannot compare the two,” Marco Ramadori said.
Costa passengers are reported to have signed a contract when buying their cruise tickets that any litigation would have to be pursued under Italian law.
But Mitchell Proner said that he thought it likely that the US courts would accept the case.
“The US has a long tradition of protecting rights and not only is Costa owned by an American company but they have brought themselves into our stream of commerce,” Mitchell Proner said.
“There were 120 Americans on board and they will demand access to their rights,” he said.
Paul Mason, a British man who at one time was the fattest in the world is pleading with the NHS to remove unsightly flaps of flesh after he managed to lose more than half of his body weight.
Paul Mason, 50, a former postman from Ipswich, who weighed 60 stone (840 lbs) two years ago, underwent a gastric bypass after he was told he otherwise faced certain death.
The man has been left with rolls of unsightly excess skin after the extreme weight loss and now needs an operation to remove the flaps hanging from his stomach, arms and legs.
NHS has refused to perform cosmetic surgery, insisting that Paul Mason needs to maintain a stable weight before it can be considered.
Paul Mason, who can now leave the house in a motorized wheelchair, said: “I just need a little bit more help. I feel like I have been just left high and dry.
“I need this operation to be able to get my life back, to be able to get back into society. It is stopping me living a reasonable life.”
Paul Mason, who weighed 70 st – or half a ton – at his heaviest, used to consume 20,000 calories a day, 10 times the normal for the average man. He said his binge eating was spurred by heartbreak in his twenties at the time of his father’s death and deterioration of his mother’s health.
He quit his job as a postman when his weight prevented him from completing his deliveries. Paul Mason was transferred to a sorting office, where he worked until 1989 when he was sacked and imprisoned for six months for stealing from customers’ letters.
The man spent around £30,000 ($45,000) a year on food and sometimes went naked to avoid having to get dressed.
Then in 2009, Paul Mason underwent a £30,000 ($45,000) operation on the NHS at Chichester Hospital which drastically reduced the amount he could eat.
Paul Mason, who weighed 70 st - or half a ton - at his heaviest, used to consume 20,000 calories a day, 10 times the normal for the average man
Now Paul Mason’s frame has shrunk so much that he has been left with swathes of loose skin.
Surgery can be used to remove the excess skin but as the treatment is for cosmetic and not clinical reasons, it is not automatically available on the NHS.
Paul Mason will have to pay around £1,500 ($2,300) to £6,000 ($9,200) if he wants to have the surgery privately depending on the amount of flesh that needs to be removed.
His care bill costs taxpayers an estimated £100,000 ($150,000) a year and it is believed to have topped £1million ($1.5 million) over the past 15 years.
On one occasion firefighters had to be called out to demolish the front wall of his former home so they could drive a fork lift truck inside to lift him out and put him into an ambulance when he needed a hernia operation in 2002.
Paul Mason, who has a new target weight of 23 stone (322 lbs), is angered by the NHS’s decision.
“My consultant says he’s always seen there is a skinny man waiting to get out but it is so frustrating to have got so far and just be at the final hurdle.
“I have times when I just sit and cry but then I think <<I’m not going to let it get me down>>.”
NHS has remained firm about its decision, stating that Paul Mason, who also suffered a heart attack following his gastric bypass, must wait before he has further cosmetic surgery.
An NHS Suffolk spokesperson said: “Before a patient has an operation it is important to take a balanced decision that is in the best interest of that patient.
“In cases like this NHS Suffolk has a panel of people – including clinicians – who decide whether the patient should have such an operation.
“A patient must have a stable weight before he or she is considered.”
Paul Mason also claimed that the NHS failed to help him as his size soared and instead of receiving a treatment programme to manage his weight, he said he was told in 1996: “Ride your bike more.”
The man now hopes to learn how to drive and to use his experience to help others with eating disorders, including anorexia.
Paul Mason has also set up his own craft company to produce Christmas tree decorations and birthday cards.
The heaviest man of all time was American John Minnoch, who weighed 100.2 stone (1402.8 lbs). He died in 1983 aged 42.
Paul Mason’s old diet:
Breakfast: A packet of bacon, four sausages, four eggs, bread and hash browns.
Lunch: Four portions of fish and chips with two kebabs.
Dinner: A takeaway such as a curry or pizza
Snacks: Pastries, chocolate, crisps
Paul Mason’s new diet:
Lunch or dinner: Now he has just one main meal a day usually consisting of lean meat fresh fruit and vegetables
Two female carers take up to four hours to wash Paul Mason because his size makes it impossible for him to clean himself.
The women, who visit him three times a day, have to apply cream to every inch of his bulging body to stop chafing.
He manages to soap his upper body himself and the nurses wipe him down.
They used to look after him from 8:00 a.m. until 8:00p.m., but Ipswich NHS was forced to axe the service because of cutbacks.
Paul Mason, who wears incontinence pads, has not walked properly since 2000 and wears size XXXXXXXXL clothes.