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TOTE Seeks Exoneration or Limitation of Liability in El Faro Sinking

November 2, 2015

American Shipper
By Chris Dupin

The owners of the TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico container and roll-on/roll-off cargo ship El Faro, which sank in Hurricane Joaquin on Oct. 1, filed a request for exoneration or limitation of liability in U.S. District Court in Florida on Friday.

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“The key in any limitation action is whether the owner of the vessel had privity or knowledge of the cause of the failure of the vessel prior to the commencement of the voyage,” explained Vince DeOrchis, an attorney at Montgomery McCracken Walker Rhoads.

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The El Faro trial is likely to be a battle of expert witnesses, says DeOrchis. With no survivors and limited physical evidence, “the problem for the judge is where do you draw reality from conjecture.”

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