TOTE Maritime settles with 10 El Faro families

TOTE Maritime has settled with the families of 10 of the 33 mariners who were lost at sea when the 790’x95’ ro/ro container ship El Faro sank in Hurricane Joaquin on Oct. 1.

Though the settlement documents were not released, court documents show that the families of crew members Keith Griffin, Piotr Krause, Roan Lightfoot, Marcin Nita, Jan Podgorski, Richard Pusatere, Howard P. Schoenly, Andrej Truszkowski, Rafal Zdobych and Capt. Michael Davidson will accept $500,000 each for pre-death pain and suffering of their family members, along with an unspecified amount for economic losses.

“Since the loss of the El Faro, we have focused every effort on supporting the families of those on board. An important part of this support has entailed reaching fair and swift legal settlements for those who may choose them,” TOTE said in a statement released Monday. “We can confirm that we have settled financially with 10 families through a respectful and equitable mediation process. We stress that our support of all the families will continue.”

Claims involving the families of other crew members remain pending.

“I have to admit, I am a bit surprised that people have settled so early,” Rod Sullivan, an attorney representing the family of a crew member who did not settle with TOTE, told News4Jax. “Really, there’s no discovery that’s been done yet, no hearings, no motions and therefore, it surprised me that it settled so quickly.”

Part of the wreck of the El Faro was discovered Oct. 31 in about 15,000 feet of water in the vicinity of the ship’s last known position near Crooked Island, Bahamas. The El Faro‘s bridge deck, sheared off when the ship sank, was located on Nov. 12 approximately one mile from the rest of the wreck. The National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the sinking, has not been able to locate the ship’s voyage data recorder and suspended the search for it in mid-November. In a recent media report, the agency raised the possibility of reopening that search.

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Ashley Herriman

Ashley Herriman is WorkBoat's online editor.

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