Facing potentially crippling lawsuits to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, Tote, the US owner of the sunken El Faro boxship, has filed for protection in Florida federal court from claims it is liable for the deaths of its 33 crewmembers.
Tote claims the 40-year-old ship, which went down by the Bahamas during Hurricane Joaquin on October 1, “was in all respects seaworthy and properly manned”. If Tote wins its case in Florida the company’s liability could top out at $1 million, or about $30,000 per lost crewmember, according to one lawyer representing one of the seafarer’s family. Some of the four lawsuits filed against the owner so far have been for as much as $100m each.
Meanwhile, having found this weekend what it believes to be the wreck of the ship the US National Transportation Safety Board is now dispatching a remotely operated deepocean vehicle to survey the wreckage and try to locate a voyage data recorder.