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Dali ship owners deny all responsibility for deadly Baltimore bridge collapse and call for $43.6m payout cap

Owners of the Dali are seeking to cap any liability payments by citing an 1851 piece of legislation

Amelia Neath
Tuesday 02 April 2024 13:57 BST
NTSB releases new video on board Dali ship after Baltimore bridge collapse

The owners of the Dali container ship involved in the deadly collapse of a Baltimore bridge last week, after it crashed into the structure, have denied responsibility and are seeking to limit their legal liability.

Grace Ocean Private Limited, the ship’s owner, and the manager Synergy Marine Pte said in a federal court filing on Monday that they denied any fault or neglect of the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge that claimed the lives of six construction workers.

The companies are asking for exoneration from liability, but if they are held responsible in lawsuits, the companies are asking for a cap on any payout.

The joint filing, submitted in a Maryland District Court, seeks to cap the companies’ liability at roughly $43.6m.

“The [bridge collapse] was not due to any fault, neglect, or want of care on the part of [ship owner & operator], the Vessel, or any persons or entities for whose acts [ship owner & operator] may be responsible,” the filing stated.

The owners of the Dali have submitted a filing under theLimitation of Liability Act of 1851 to try and cap any payouts (AP)

“Alternatively, if any such faults caused or contributed to the [bridge collapse], or to any loss or damage arising out of the [bridge collapse], which is denied, such faults were occasioned and occurred without [ship owner & operator] privity or knowledge.”

The owner and operator of the Dali vessel submitted the filing under the Limitation of Liability Act of 1851, a piece of legislation that enables ship owners to limit their liability for certain claims to the value of the vessel and its cargo at the end of its journey.

The filing estimates that the vessel itself is valued at up to $90m and was owed over $1.1m in income from the freight. They also estimate that repair costs will be at least $28m and at least $19.5m in salvaging the ship.

Wreckage from the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge rests on the cargo ship Dali (Getty Images)

A sum of $60m in emergency aid has already been approved by President Joe Biden’s administration last week, to begin the process of removing debris from the water.

In a news release, the US Department of Transportation referred to the funds as a “downpayment toward initial costs”.

The 300-metre-long vessel had a cargo of 4,679 containers when it lost power and collided with the bridge in the early hours of the morning on 26 March.

Construction workers were on the 1.6-mile-long bridge at the time of the collapse, with the structure falling into the Patapsco river below.

Two people were rescued shortly after, but six people, all construction workers, remained missing in the days after until two bodies were recovered from the disaster area submerged in the water.

Four people remain missing but have been presumed dead by authorities.

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