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Family of missing cruiser sues ship operator

The family of a man who disappeared while on a honeymoon on a  ship sued Royal Caribbean, claiming the company tried to  cover up the incident. The wife of the missing man reached a settlement Thursday.
/ Source: The Associated Press

The family of a man who disappeared from his honeymoon cruise a year ago filed a lawsuit accusing the cruise operator of trying to cover up the incident. However, the man's wife separately reached a settlement with the cruise line.

George Allen Smith IV, 26, vanished July 5 from a Royal Caribbean ship in the Mediterranean between Greece and Turkey after an apparent late night of drinking. The FBI has been investigating, but no one has been charged and no body has been recovered.

Authorities have called Smith's disappearance suspicious. Blood stains were found on a canopy that covers life boats.

"The cruise line deliberately and intentionally portrayed the incident as an accident, and hampered a full-blown, appropriate investigation into the facts and circumstances of George A. Smith's death," the lawsuit filed Thursday states.

Royal Caribbean officials denied the allegations.

"While we continue to work diligently to assist the FBI in its investigation, and we continue to extend our deepest sympathy to (wife) Jennifer Hagel-Smith and the Smith family, we look forward to proving that the claims in this lawsuit are false," the company said.

‘Provide closure and move forward’
Also on Thursday, Royal Caribbean announced that it had reached a settlement with Hagel-Smith over any potential wrongful death lawsuit. The company said it wanted to "provide closure and move forward."

The terms were not disclosed.

"We believe this agreement will help Jennifer to move forward in her life, while honoring the memory of her beloved husband," Goldstein said in a statement, adding that the company will match a contribution by Hagel-Smith to a charity of her choice.

The settlement must be approved by a Connecticut probate court, the company said.

Hagel-Smith said she believed the settlement will help bring some closure.

"This has been the most difficult and challenging year of my life," she said in a statement released by Royal Caribbean.

"My discussions with Royal Caribbean have been very open, as well as extremely productive and informative," Hagel-Smith said. "This journey has always been a matter of principle for me, and I know that George would be proud of what has been accomplished thus far, in good faith, as we continue to seek answers."