Family of El Faro Sailor Suing Shipowner for Negligence

October 28, 2015

The family of a sailor aboard the El Faro cargo ship that was presumed to have gone down in Hurricane Joaquin has filed a lawsuit against the company that owned the ship as well as the still-missing ship captain. An attorney filed the suit on behalf of the family of Lonnie Jordan.

Jordan was just one of 33 crew members who were on board the El Faro when it sailed off towards Puerto Rico a few weeks ago. The U.S. Coast Guard estimate that the ship disappeared around the Bahamas.

The family is seeking $100 million in compensatory and punitive damages. The family’s attorney emphasized that the suit was not about money. “Money won’t bring him back, I know that. But we’re going to change things and that’s what big business understands is when you hit them in their pockets.”

The lawsuit claims that the El Faro was much too old and unsafe to have been sent out to sea. The plaintiff argues that the shipowner, Tote Services and Tote Maritime Puerto Rico, was acting greedily by sending the El Faro when they had another ship that they could have sent instead. The suit states that Tote should have sent the other ship and taken in slightly less profit in order to better protect the crew members.

Tote Services has declined to comment on the disappearance of the El Faro or the lawsuit against it, but did say that the ship’s captain had a good plan to avoid the brunt of the hurricane. A plan that only failed after the ship lost its main propulsion.

Hurricane Joaquin produced winds up to 150mph and waves upwards of 50 feet high. Authorities called off the search for the ship after discovering a body and some debris.

The plaintiff’s attorney has urged other family members of victims to join the case as soon as possible. The process of discovery begins now and he says “We’re going to move as expeditiously as possible. We’re not going to let our cases sit around and our families suffer.”

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