Award to parents of riverboat victim wiped out by costs

The parents who won pounds 34,000 for the loss of their daughter in the Marchioness riverboat disaster, said yesterday that their award would be swallowed up in legal costs.

Vincenzo Dallaglio, 60, and his wife Eileen, 57, said they were "bitterly disappointed" by the sum Mr Justice Latham awarded, pounds 33,930, for the loss of their daughter, Francesca, who they had described as the "sole breadwinner" in their family.

Mrs Dallaglio added that it was "morally wrong" that their award would be used up in legal costs leaving the owners of the two boats to "get away with it scot-free".

Francesca,19, was on the brink of a career as a ballet dancer when she died, along with 50 other young people after the dredger Bowbelle collided with the Marchioness on 20 August 1989 in mid-stream of the river Thames.

The owners of the two vessels admitted liability for damages five years ago and the judge was asked only to assess how much should be awarded. Other death and personal injury claims have been dealt with by the Registrar of the Admiralty Court, including a pounds 15,000 award for the loss of a daughter.

The Dallaglio case was the only claim to be transferred to a judge for assessment because of the couple's heavy financial reliance on their daughter.

The boats' owners made a pre-trial settlement offer of pounds 50,000, Mr Justice Latham was told in the High Court yesterday. Because the offer was greater than the final award, the Dallaglios were ordered to pay the defence costs. As is usual in such cases, he was not told of the pre-trial offer until after his judgment.

The judge said Ms Dallaglio was a "lovely, greatly talented girl" who had just obtained her first job after dance and drama school. "It is obvious that many lives have been made the poorer by her death," he said.

In financial terms, however, there was no secure evidence that she would have provided a regular income for her financially vulnerable parents, and her mother's evidence on this was "unrealistic".

"I cannot believe that before her death they had any real expectation that she would have provided them with, in effect, a pension," said the judge. "I am sure they would have wanted her to secure her own financial position and to have provided for her family when she married and had children."

He awarded the legally aided couple pounds 16,000 for their loss, plus pounds 4,806 to Francesca's estate and pounds 13,124 interest.

Mrs Dallaglio said afterwards: "We should never have been brought to this court in the first place. When the vessel owners admitted liability, punitive and exemplary damages should have been paid immediately to all the families involved - the survivors and the bereaved ...

"These companies have taken 51 young talented lives and ruined many other lives and yet they walk away scot-free.

"If I have to dedicate the rest of my life to it, I will work to secure amendments to the law to make sure no one else is treated like this."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Kitchen and Bathroom Installers

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This provider of designer kitch...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: The infrastructure, support services and const...

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£28000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer and Markets Development Executive

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company's mission is to ma...

Day In a Page

Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border