El Faro owners hit with $100m lawsuit

The first of what could be a series of crippling lawsuits against the owners of the missing El Faro boxship is set to be filed today.

Attorney Willie Gary will announce the filing of a $100m lawsuit against TOTE Services and TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico, the owners of the 40-year-old ship that is presumed sunk in the midst of the fierce Hurricane Joaquin.

The suit is on behalf of the estate of Lonnie Jordan, one of the 33 El Faro crewmembers.

A news briefing is set for 1100hrs at Duval County Courthouse in Florida. Family members of the El Faro crew will also be in attendance.

The National Transportation Safety Board has said it will give a media update on Friday.

Seafarers who worked on the US-flagged ship earlier this year have questioned its seaworthiness. The owners admit engines failed just as the hurricane bore down off the Bahamas with winds in excess of 200 kmh.

The sinking has once again brought debate about the validity of the Jones Act, the US cabotage laws that allow such ancient vessels to trade. Whether the Jones Act is fit for purpose is one of eight questions posed in our latest topical survey, results of which will be released in the next issue of Maritime CEO magazine. Readers can access the poll here.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. Please get your facts straight. The Jones Act has nothing to do with direct trade between Puerto Rico and the USA, Puerto Rico is a territory, not a state, and as such. El Faro was not subject to the terms of the Jones Act. You are mixing apples and oranges.

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