Thursday, February 16, 2012


Crisis chief is target

Group wants cruise lines crisis chief charged


An Agence France-Presse article states that "An Italian consumer group (Codacons) on Wednesday formally requested that the operator of the Costa Concordia cruise ship which crashed last month with the loss of 32 lives should be held criminally accountable."

    CODACONS, an umbrella group of associations for the protection of the environment and of consumers and users, is a non-profit association which, in accordance with its articles of association, seeks to safeguard standards of quality, efficiency and correct behaviour in contractual relations and in the provision of public services.

The interesting thing for risk management practitioners is that the group, according to the AFP article, also believes that "the head of the company's crisis unit, Roberto Ferrarini, should be held responsible for multiple counts of manslaughter."

Codacons contends that ""This request is based on the fact that the hour or more that it took to evacuate the ship led directly to the deaths."

I cannot think of any other case where a person in a risk management position has been named a defendant in a criminal or civil action.

While Codacons wants the crisis chief included in the criminal complaint, the final decision will come from the courts.

If Ferrarini is like most risk management - and this includes "crisis management" - practitioners, all he can do is recommend things to management. If management elects to ignore his recommendations, the practitioner should be dropped from any civil or criminal actions.

The problem for Ferrarini may be proving he performed due diligence on the job; that he did tell Costa, and by extension, Carnival, that emergency responses needed improvement.

If he did tell Costa management and was ignored, did he escalate his concerns to Carnival in Miami?

Can he prove any of it?

From time-to-time the question arises: What risks does the risk management practitioner face when he, or she, advises a client, be the client internal or external.

If I, for example, tell a client that the client needs to upgrade a generator to provide AC for the entire facility rather than only IT, and if the client ignores my recommendation, am I responsible for a 5-day power outage that prevents the organization's profit center from making a profit?

A related question is: Does a risk management practitioner, particularly in a consult role, need malpractice insurance?

What's a practitioner to do?

Document, document, document.

But not on the client's computer - documentation could "disappear" when it might be most needed.

I hate to recommend the "CYA" approach, but when things such as the Carnival/Costa disaster occur, the risk management practitioner may be in the "line of fire" of people who want to bring criminal, or more often, civil actions.

I have no idea what Ferrarini did or failed to do, nor am I privy to his ability to influence management.

I am aware that Codacons has pointed its finger at him as having some responsibility for the disaster. He didn't run the ship onto the rocks; there's no indication he was on the ship or that he had, at any point, any authority over the ship's captain or crew.

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