Owners and the captain of the cargo ship El Faro, which went missing off the Bahamas on October 1 and is presumed to have sunk, are facing a USD 100 million lawsuit filed by the family of one of the 32 missing crew members, Reuters reports.
The family of the 33-year-old Lonnie Jordan filed the USD 100 million negligence and wrongful death lawsuit against Tote Services Inc., Tote Maritime Puerto Rico, and the vessel’s captain in Jacksonville, Florida.
“Tote Services negligently permitted the El Faro to sail out to sea despite being in an unseaworthy condition to handle the conditions of a violent storm,” Reuters cited the lawsuit as stating.
Willie E. Gary, the attorney representing the family of Lonnie Jordan, said that El Faro ”should have never left the dock,” and that he will ask for the ship maintenance records to investigate reports that the vessel was undergoing mechanical repairs on the day of departure.
Gary also suggested that families of other 32 crew members might file similar lawsuits.
The El Faro, a 790-foot roll on, roll off cargo ship, was en route to San Juan, Puerto Rico, from Jacksonville, Florida. At approximately 7:30 a.m. local time October 1, U.S. Coast Guard watchstanders were notified that the El Faro was disabled in the path of Hurricane Joaquin, had lost propulsion and had a 15 degree list. The crew reported the ship had previously taken on water, but that all flooding had been contained.
The Coast Guard located one deceased person in a survival suit in the water Sunday night. A heavily damaged life boat with markings consistent with those on board the El Faro were also located Sunday. Additional items located by search crews include a partially submerged life raft, a survival suit, life jackets, life rings, cargo containers, Styrofoam, packaged food and an oil sheen.
32 remaining crew members, including the ship’s captain, are missing and presumed dead.