Smith disappeared on July 5, 2005 while traveling with bride Jennifer Hagel Smith and was presumed dead. The case differed from "common" passenger disappearances in that blood stains were found on a cover over tenders; no charges were ever proven. As we reported back in October, a Miami judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by Smith's family -- but that Smith's wife had settled with Royal Caribbean (financial terms were not disclosed until today).
A copy of the settlement agreement (which still requires court approval) provided by Hagel Smith's attorney indicates that the line will pay $950,000 to George Smith's estate and reimburse his widow up to $110,000 for legal costs. It also states that Hagel Smith will start a fund in remembrance of her husband with an initial donation of $25,000 -- which Royal Caribbean will match.
In an official statement, the cruise line comments, "Royal Caribbean believes the settlement agreement being submitted to the Probate Court today is a fair and equitable resolution in the tragic death of George Smith. We believe a lengthy and costly lawsuit would have served no one's interests, and, in the end, would not have achieved results that were as full, fair or complete as those outlined in this agreement.
"Royal Caribbean continues to convey its deepest sympathy to all members of the Smith family."
--by Melissa Baldwin, Senior Editor