Lawyer Declares War on El Faro's Owners

He says the El Faro should never have left the docks
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 15, 2015 12:27 AM CDT
Lawyer Declares War on Owners of Sunken Ship
In this Oct. 4, 2015, photo, made from video and released by the US Coast Guard, a Coast Guard helicopter crew investigates a lifeboat that was found from the missing ship El Faro.   (US Coast Guard via AP)

The cargo ship that sank with 33 crew members aboard during Hurricane Joaquin should never have been at sea, according to a lawyer who says a $100 million suit against the owners of the El Faro is just the beginning. Attorney Willie E. Gary is representing the family of missing crew member Lonnie Jordan in their negligence and wrongful death lawsuit against TOTE Maritime Services and he plans more lawsuits on behalf of other families, NBC News reports. He accuses the ship's owners of putting profits before safety. "The ship should have never left the docks," he told reporters at a press conference Wednesday. "The ship was not seaworthy."

"We are at war now," Gary said after filing the lawsuit in Jacksonville, Fla., per the Florida Times-Union. "We understand they could have gotten a different ship, they could have sailed a different route." The attorney, who has won some huge cases against tobacco companies and others, tells Reuters that he has heard the ship was having mechanical problems the day it departed Jacksonville bound for Puerto Rico and that he'll be seeking maintenance records. The ship's captain has also been named in the lawsuit, the Times-Union notes, but Gary says he won't be seeking damages from the missing man's family. The search for survivors was called off last week. (Read more missing ship stories.)

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