Owners of small cruise ships may be held liable for marine accidents under the bill.
The bill updates the 1851 Limitation of Liability Act, under which boat owners can limit liability to the value of ship wreckage. In the case of the conception, a scuba diving boat where Inferno trapped 33 passengers and one crew member in the bankroom under the deck. The boat was totally lost.
If the bill is passed, the bill will be applied retroactively to the families of conception victims, officials said. This tragedy was one of the most deadly maritime disasters in recent US history.
The bill, sponsored by Democrats of California, Rep. Salud Carbahal and Senator Diane Finestein, means that owners of small passenger ships may be held liable for maritime accidents. Owners are obliged to indemnify victims and their families, regardless of the value of the boat after the incident.
The 1851 law is a proven legal operation that has been successfully adopted by owners of the Titanic and countless other crafts, some as small as jet skis. Originating in England in the 18th century, it was intended to promote the shipping industry.
Carbajal, who represents the area where the conception disaster struck, said the 2019 fire has helped lawmakers figure out how they can help victims’ families.
“There is nothing to make up for the loss, but at least they will get the fair and just compensation they owe,” he told The Associated Press. “The aftermath of this tragedy revealed this.”
In a statement, Feinstein said the law “does not take into account modern tourism, such as commercial diving boats.”
The Passenger Vessel Association, an industry group, did not respond to requests for comment.
Under current law, the company Truth Aquatics and its owners Glen and Dana Fritzler must show that they were not negligent in the Conception disaster. Even if the captain or crew is officially criticized, Fritzlar and its insurers can avoid paying dimes under the law.
Fritzlar’s proceedings to limit their liability remain pending in federal court. The couple’s lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.
Family lawyer Jeffrey Goodman said the “long postponed” law may not actually affect the conception case, as Fritzlar does not have many assets to indemnify the family. I told AP.
However, Goodman said the bill is more important in a broader sense to hold boat owners and operators accountable.
“Removing the financial protection provided to them will promote advancing maritime security,” he said.
National Transportation Safety Board Disaster investigation The cause of the fire was not identified, but the shipowner accused him of inadequate surveillance and said the flame had spread rapidly because he did not post the night watchman.
Conception captain Jerry Boylan pleaded not guilty In February, he was guilty of a rare federal manslaughter. Prosecutors were unable to train crew members, conduct evacuation drills, and place night guards on boats when the fire broke out before Boylan broke out on September 2, 2019, so safety rules He states that he did not obey. His case is pending.
After the captain made a panicked Mayday call, Boylan and the other four crew members were all sleeping on the deck, but escaped from the fiery boat.
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