The lawsuit on behalf of the family of Lonnie Jordan, one of the 33 crew members on the El Faro that disappeared near the Bahamas during Hurricane Joaquin, is seeking damages for negligence and wrongful death.
The lawsuit filed at Duval County Court in Gainesville, Florida, claims that TOTE and the missing captain Michael Davison were negligent in opting to sail the ship in spite of warnings on hurricane winds and a tropical storm.
Attorney Willie E. Gary, who is representing the bereaved family, said that the company was at fault by sending a 41-year-old cargo ship into the sea under dangerous weather conditions.
“As I talk to the families who are still struggling to understand why this happened, they are wracked with grief.
“This company placed more emphasis on profits than the safety of those on board this ship and as a result, lives have been lost.” Gary said.
The attorney was quoted by Reuters as saying that he had heard that the ship was undergoing mechanical repairs the day it departed as well as having other problems within weeks of the doomed trip.
He said he would be seeking ship maintenance records.
Gary has also hinted at similar suits by several other victims.
Both the El Faro and its sister ship were set to be replaced by two new ships following the scheduled retirement, reported the PressHerald.
The ship enroute from Jacksonville, Florida to San Juan, Puerto Rico, disappeared with its entire crew and captain during the hurricane.
After a search operation covering over 172,000nm², the US Coast Guard concluded that the ship sank near the Bahamas, and suspended the search for survivors.
The week long search operation by the Coast Guard yielded no progress except discovering an unidentifiable body.
Consequently, the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) launched an investigation into the incident and is in trying to recover the missing vessel’s data recorders.