Two Florida women who were held hostage on the Achille Lauro cruise ship sued five tour companies for $400 million yesterday, claiming psychological injuries from the two-day hijacking in the Mediterranean.
The lawsuit claims that the captain and crew on the Italian ocean liner acted as "accomplices" in the hijacking, in which Americans were singled out and threatened with death. One American was killed.
Lawyers for Sophie Chasser, 70, and Anna Schneider, 73, of Hollywood, Fla., filed suit in state Supreme Court in Manhattan against the Achille Lauro lines and four other companies.
The suit charged that the hijacking could have been prevented.
It is the first lawsuit filed in connection with the seizure of the cruise ship off Alexandria, Egypt, the lawyers said.
Palestinian commandos hijacked the ship Oct. 7 with about 500 passengers and crew aboard. They released the hostages and cruise ship after two days and the slaying of New Yorker Leon Klinghoffer, 69, who was shot twice and thrown overboard in his wheelchair off Tartus, Syria.
The women claim that there was "an open friendliness" between the Italian crew and the hijackers and that at times the crew was "hugging and kissing the captors," lawyer Joseph Napoli said.
Crew members have said they would have done anything, including feign friendliness, to assure their passengers' safety.