El Faro Owners and Operators Hit with Another Lawsuit

Family of another crew member of the ill-fated container ship El Faro, which sank off Bermuda on October 1 near the eye of the Hurricane Joaquin, have filed a lawsuit against the owners and operators of the 1970-built boxship.

The family of Anthony Shawn Thomas, one of the 33 crew members who died or are presumed dead after the sinking, filed the lawsuit against Sea Star Line, Tote Maritime and Tote Maritime Puerto Rico, Tote Inc., Tote Services Inc., Intec Maritime Offshore Services Corp., and Ship Or Land Operations Agency, Inc.

This is the fourth such lawsuit filed against the owners and operators of El Faro since the incident.

Arnold & Itkin LLP, a Houston-based law firm representing the family of Anthony Shawn Thomas, said it ”believes the defendants knew the El Faro was an aged and ailing vessel with structural problems and with a history of taking on water. The defendants knew, allowed, and encouraged the El Faro to leave port knowing the potential dangers that lay ahead of the hurricane.”

The amount of the compensation the family seeks from the owners and operators of El Faro was not disclosed.

The El Faro, a 790-foot roll on, roll off cargo ship owned by Sea Star Line and operated by TOTE Services, 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 some 36 nautical miles northeast of Acklins and Crooked Islands, Bahamas.

Just minutes before the distress alerts, the El Faro master had called TOTE’s designated person ashore and reported that the ship was experiencing some flooding. He said the crew had controlled the ingress of water but the ship was listing 15 degrees and had lost propulsion.

The Coast Guard and TOTE were unable to reestablish communication with the ship. Twenty-eight U.S. crew members and five Polish workers were on board.

The Coast Guard located one deceased person in a survival suit in the water Sunday night. 32 remaining crew members, including the ship’s captain, are missing and presumed dead.

The U.S Navy is currently searching for the remains of the ship.

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