The owner of the ill-fated El Faro cargo ship TOTE Marine is being targeted with yet another lawsuit from the victims’ families.
The latest legal challenge submitted on Tuesday in Jacksonville seeks to challenge the company’s attempts to limit its financial responsibility and has been filed on behalf of the families of 34-year-old Danielle Randolph and 23-year-old Dylan Meklin of Maine.
The two were among the 33 crew members who are presumed dead after El Faro sank on October 1st having succumbed to the strong winds of the Hurricane Joaquin. The crew consisted of 28 U.S. citizens and five Polish nationals.
The latest lawsuit claims that Tote’s liability should not be limited as the company allowed the ship to sail too close to the storm.
Following several lawsuits from the victims’ family members, Tote filed for protection from legal claims regarding its liability for the deaths of the ship’s 33 crew members.
The company filed for exoneration from or limitation of liability in U.S. district court in Jacksonville, Florida, at the beginning of November.
Tote claimed that it had “exercised due diligence” to ensure the 40-year-old vessel was seaworthy, properly manned and well-equipped for its September 29 trip from Jacksonville, Florida, to San Juan, Puerto Rico, and should therefore be “from claims for damages that have been or may hereafter be made.”
However, legal representatives of the plaintiffs believe the defendants knew that El Faro was an aged vessel with structural problems and that, despite that, they encouraged the ship to leave port knowing the potential dangers that lay ahead of the hurricane. What is more, the ship owners and operators failed to instruct the captain to change the ship’s route to avoid the hurricane and subsequent tragedy.
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