Skip to main content

Maritime Law--South Florida Lawsuit Filed in El Faro Sinking

 The first South Florida lawsuit against the owner of EL FARO, the cargo ship that sunk in Hurricane Joaquin last month, was filed on October 28, 2015 in Broward County Circuit Court. This latest lawsuit claims EL FARO's engine failure and loss of power on October 1st followed many years of lax maintenance. The lawsuit also claims EL FARO was not seaworthy in that the ship was undergoing "significant maintenance" just before it left port September 29th and had a history of losing power.

The lawsuit was brought by the widow of Anthony Thomas who seeks damages for herself and for the couple's five children, ages 8 to 29. The lawsuit states the Fort Lauderdale court has jurisdiction because Tote Maritime's registered agent is in Plantation.

This lawsuit is the fourth complaint brought against ship owner Tote Maritime since the deaths of EL FARO's 33 crew members. This latest lawsuit comes just as the Jacksonville-based company seeks to prevent future lawsuits and limit the damages victims' families can collect by virtue of their filing of a limitation of liability lawsuit.

In the limitation of liability lawsuit filed by the shipowner, Tote Maritime claimed it should not be required to pay more than about $15.2 million in total damages for losses related to the shipwreck found near Crooked Island in the Bahamas. The company claims its liability is limited under the limitation of liability act to a death claims fund of $420 per gross registered ton, or $13.2 million, with another $2 million for the freight aboard the ship. The company also asked U.S. District Judge Brian J. Davis to issue an injunction against the prosecution of future lawsuits.

The Broward County lawsuit was removed to federal court and has been assigned to U.S. District Judge William J. Zloch. However, because there are two similar lawsuits filed in Jacksonville, one in federal court and one in Duval Circuit Court and because wrongful death claims cannot proceed until the limitation court has resolved the limitation action, it is likely that Tote Maritime will move to consolidate all the actions in Jacksonville.
According to this latest complaint, the U.S. Coast Guard documented 23 deficiencies with EL FARO Faro since 2003. The 40-year-old ship also allegedly lost power and propulsion during a 2011 voyage due to faulty equipment.
If you are interested in receiving a copy of the latest lawsuit or in contacting me, you may do so by writing to me at




  1. It's really a nice and helpful piece of information. I'm glad that you shared this helpful info with us. Please keep us informed like this.
    Shipping estimates


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Maritime Law--U.S. Crewmember Required to Arbitrate Claims Applying Norwegian Law

In Alberts v. Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd., No. 15-14775 (11th Cir. Aug. 23, 2016), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held that a U.S. citizen, working aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship is required to arbitrate his claims against Royal Caribbean.
Plaintiff, a United States citizen, worked as the lead trumpeter on a passenger Royal Caribbean cruise ship. The ship is a Bahamian flagged vessel with a home port in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Royal Caribbean, the operator of the vessel, is a Liberian corporation with its principal place of business in Florida. After plaintiff became ill while working for Royal Caribbean, he filed suit alleging unseaworthiness, negligence, negligence under the Jones Act, maintenance and cure, and seaman’s wages and penalties. Royal Caribbean moved to compel arbitration, and the district court granted the motion. This appeal presented an issue of first impression: Whether a seaman’s work in international waters on a cruise ship that calls o…

Maritime Law--Tour Boat Captain Implicated in Tragedy Off Nicaragua

As reported in the Daily Business Review on January 25, 2016, Nicaragua's police, army and navy will investigate the captain of a tourist boat and his assistant for the deaths of 13 Costa Rican passengers killed on January 23rd when the vessel capsized in bad weather. The Reina del Caribe, Spanish for "Caribbean Queen," was carrying 33 people when it went down Saturday amid rain and strong winds as it ferried between the Corn Islands, a popular tourist destination, off Nicaragua's Caribbean coast. The Daily Business Review article can be accessed here=> Daily Business Review article.

The government clarified on the 24th that the boat was carrying 25 Costa Ricans, two Americans, two British citizens, a Brazilian and three Nicaraguans. Previous reports had said there were 32 people on board, including four Americans. All the dead were Costa Ricans.

Nicaragua's naval commander for the southern Caribbean region said the boat's captain was detained because the …

Maritime Law--Lawsuits Filed Over RCCL's "Storm Cruise"

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd ("RCCL") faces lawsuits by passengers accusing the company of negligently endangering their lives by letting Anthem of the Seas sail into a February 7, 2016 storm.  One class action lawsuit filed in federal court in Miami specifically states that RCCL should be required to pay punitive damages to passengers on its ship for "knowingly sailing directly into" a strong winter storm with 120-mph winds. It is also alleged that people aboard the ship were "subjected to hours of sheer terror as the gigantic cruise ship was battered by hurricane-force winds and more than 30-foot waves."

The vessel reportedly encountered 100 mph winds and 30-foot waves, and RCCL said the storm was more severe than expected. RCCL later turned the ship around, and it returned to New Jersey on February 10. Anthem of the Seas’ port azipod reportedly burnt through “all four clutches” during the storm. RCCL reported four minor injuries among more than 6,000 p…