HOUSTON, Oct. 29, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, Arnold & Itkin LLP filed against the companies that owned and operated the El Faro: SEA STAR LINE, LLC d/b/a TOTE MARITIME and TOTE MARITIME PUERTO RICO, TOTE, INC., TOTE SERVICES INC., INTEC MARITIME OFFSHORE SERVICES CORP., and SHIP OR LAND OPERATIONS AGENCY, INC. Arnold & Itkin LLP is representing the family of Anthony Shawn Thomas, who served upon the cargo vessel El Faro—one of 33 souls lost when the ship tragically sank. Mr. Thomas was known to friends and family by his middle name, Shawn. He proudly served his country for 10 years in the Navy, and he had served as a merchant mariner for 17 years before he was lost at sea.
"On behalf of Shawn's family, we will be demanding answers about what happened to the El Faro," said Attorney Kurt Arnold. "Why was the vessel sent into the path of a hurricane? Why did the propulsion system fail? What became of the crew before they perished? And we'll be demanding justice. We want the companies involved to take responsibility for their role in the tragedy, and we want other shipping companies to learn from these mistakes—to make sure this type of disaster does not befall other families."
Arnold & Itkin LLP 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.
Mr. Thomas' family, and the families of all those lost on the El Faro, face an uphill battle in their pursuit of justice. The defendants may attempt to escape responsibility for their wrongdoing by trying to grasp onto a ludicrously outdated nineteenth-century law that limits the liability that a shipping company faces after a maritime disaster—to either the value of the vessel and cargo after the disaster, or to a value based on the tonnage of the vessel. Because they expect to find the El Faro 15,000 feet below the ocean surface, the ship and cargo are fundamentally worthless.
If the defendants successfully seek protection under the Limited Liability Act of 1851, Arnold & Itkin LLP expects their liability will be less than $1 million. That would be less than $30,000 for the families of each mariner who served aboard the El Faro. If the antiquated law is invoked, the insurance company that provides coverage for the El Faro will be protected and will not have to compensate the families of the crew.
"We will be asking the defendants to do the right thing for the men and women who served them," said Attorney Arnold. "We hope they will not seek protection under this ridiculous law—to do would be a disservice to the memory of the brave people who served aboard the El Faro."
If they do seek to shirk their responsibilities, however, Arnold & Itkin LLP will fight to ensure the families are properly compensated. They will show that the defendants are not entitled to limit their liability under this antiquated law from a bygone era, and they will also expose the Limited Liability Act of 1851 as the unjust and outdated law that it is.
Arnold & Itkin is a Houston-based law firm that has built a reputation for tough litigation. They have won verdicts and settlements totaling more than $1 billion over the last five years. They held BP accountable for the Deepwater Horizon disaster by representing the families of more of the workers injured or killed than any other firm. They have tried cases and won verdicts all over the country, and they have a proven record of holding shipping companies accountable for their actions when there are preventable tragedies at sea. To learn more about the firm, do not hesitate to visit them online today at www.offshoreinjuryfirm.com.
SOURCE Arnold & Itkin LLP