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Bill would change maritime liability rules after Conception boat fire off California coast – Press Telegram

STEFANIE DAZIO

Los Angeles — Congressmen introduced a law on Wednesday that would change the rules of maritime liability in the 19th century. Boat fires off Southern California in 2019 It killed 34 people.

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 Inferno’s scuba diving boat, Conception, which trapped 33 passengers and one crew member in the bankroom below 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 immediately 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.

A disaster investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board did not identify the cause of the fire, but the shipowner accused him of inadequate surveillance and said the flames spread rapidly because he did not post the night watchman.

Conception captain Jerry Boylan pleaded not guilty to a rare federal manslaughter in February. 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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The Associated Press writer Brian Mary contributed to the story.

Bill would change maritime liability rules after Conception boat fire off California coast – Press Telegram Source link Bill would change maritime liability rules after Conception boat fire off California coast – Press Telegram

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