Seacor Marine, the owner of the Seacor Power liftboat that capsized near New Orleans on April 13, leaving 13 people dead or presumed dead, has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to limit damages in the accident, if it is found to be liable, to the estimated value of the vessel. Appraisers’ estimates included in the lawsuit show the value of the lift boat at about $4.8m. Another $1m for a death and personal injury claims fund puts the total value at almost $5.7m.
The lawsuit references the Limitation of Liability Act of 1851, which entitles a vessel owner to limit its liability for most claims arising out of a maritime casualty.
Seacor’s filing refutes claims that the liftboat was dispatched into dangerous conditions. According to the lawsuit, “The weather report received by the captain on the morning of April 13, 2021, forecast afternoon winds and seas well within the Seacor Power’s safe operating limits, and his decision to depart the berth and proceed with the voyage was reasonable and prudent.”
When conditions worsened during the voyage, the vessel capsized in a “force majeure event,” says the Seacor suit.
Numerous lawsuits have been filed against Seacor Marine by both survivors and families of those who died. If Seacor is found liable for the accident but the court rules in favour of Seacor on the damages, the claimants would share the $5.7m.
Salvage work continues on the liftboat.