January 25, 2013

Personal Injury and Damages Sustained During New York Seastreak Ferry Accident May Be Limited

Claims have been filed in federal court against the ferry operator.  One passenger injured when the high-speed, New York commuter ferry slammed into a Lower Manhattan dock on January 9th, 2013, has filed a claim in the lawsuit that is proceeding in U.S. District Court.  The plaintiff, Desmond Sullivan, reportedly injured his back and neck according to his attorney.  The claims filed in court state that Sullivan “was violently thrown about and generally injured and wounded, with bones, muscles, nerves, ligaments, tissues, tendons and vital organs of his body fractured, wrenched, bruised, sprained and otherwise injured, and he sustained internal injuries, as well as great mental anguish, suffering and terror.”


Another passenger has still not regained consciousness since the crash and is still at intensive care at Presbyterian Hospital.  The passenger was thrown when the ferry hit dock according to the court documents. The passenger is claiming $45,000,000.


These passengers, however, may receive a different result as the ferry corporation has filed petitions in the federal district to limit their liability to the value of the ferry---$7,600,000.  There is even a possibility that the court would rule that there is no liability and the passengers filing claims would not be able to seek a jury.  Passengers have until May 16th to file a claim in the federal case.


Despite the court proceedings, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) continues to search for the cause of the accident.   The captain of the ferry, Jason Reimer, told NTSB investigators that two sets of controls linked to the reverse thrust did not respond when he was approaching Pier 11. 


The manufacturer of the controllable pitch propeller manufacturer arrived on the scene, working with investigators to conduct testing of the propulsion system controls.  This testing is a result of the new engines and new controllable pitch propellers installed.


Shortly after the Pier 11 crash, DNAinfo reported that Seastreak LLC has had "at least 11 incidents involving its fleet over the past decade, ranging from ships running aground to an engine room catching fire to equipment failures."


The NTSB has released statements that “The engine manufacturer arrived on-scene last Friday and investigators were able to download alarm and parametric data stored on engine control modules in each of the two engine compartments. In addition, investigators retrieved video from several onboard cameras. All of this information is being analyzed.”  As has developed from January 9, 2013---the day of the accident---it is believed the engine manufacturer is a Michigan company.


We will continue to survey the situation and keep you abreast of new information.


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