By MarEx 2015-10-14 14:40:19
A lawyer representing the family of a missing crewmember who was aboard the lost M/V El Faro cargo ship has filed a $100 million lawsuit against TOTE Service Inc. and TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico. The vessel sank off the Bahamas on October 1 and search and rescue efforts continued over the following eight days. U.S. Coast Guard officials recovered the body of one the vessel’s 33 crewmembers on October 5.
The lawsuit was filed Wednesday on behalf of the estate of Lonnie Jordan, one of the 33 crewmembers who are now presumed dead, by attorney Willie E. Gary.
Gary has accused the company of negligence and putting profit ahead of the lives of its employees.
“We hope to get to the bottom of this,” Gary said. “We are at war now.”
Jordan worked on the ship for 13 years as a cook.
The 790-foot El Faro issued a distress call about 36 hours into its journey, saying it had lost propulsion and was taking on water as it sailed into the path of Hurricane Joaquin.
Tote told reporters in Jacksonville the vessel was undergoing engine room work before it sank. But company officials have said they do not believe the work was related to a propulsion problem reported by the captain before the El Faro sank.
“The contractors were on board doing some work in the engine room space, they were not performing any work on the engines,” said Philip Greene, who heads the ship management subsidiary Tote Services.
“They were doing preparatory work in order for the ship to be converted for service in the Alaska trade,” Greene said.
Last week, Tote Maritime stated that it would create a relief fund to support the families of the lost crew. There were 28 Americans and five Polish nationals aboard the vessel.
A National Transportation Safety Board investigation is under way and is coordinating a salvage team to retrieve the ship’s voyage data recorder.