BC Ferries Sued Over Ferry Sinking

Friday, March 31, 2006
A couple who were aboard the ill-fated Queen of the North last week has launched the first lawsuit against British Columbia Ferry Services Inc. Meanwhile, the man in charge of health and safety at BC Ferries has resigned, the Globe and Mail reported. In Vancouver, lawyer David Varty filed a statement of claim on March 28 with the B.C. Supreme Court on behalf of Maria and Alexander Kotais. The couple were aboard the Queen of the North and in the process of moving to Nanaimo, B.C., from Kitimat, on the north coast. The Kotais had moved their basic items already in a moving van, but were carrying their more precious valuables, like jewellery, family heirlooms, clothing and important documents, in their vehicle and the vehicle of a friend who was also on the Queen of the North. The suit is a class action suit and could be expanded include all the paying passengers on the doomed ferry. The Kotois' suit claims negligence on behalf of B.C. Ferries and its employees, arguing the crew were inadequately trained and monitored. It also alleges the crew failed to keep a proper lookout and that B.C. Ferries continued to operate the Queen of the North when it knew or ought to have known that the design of the ship made it vulnerable to taking on water in multiple compartments, making it more likely to sink if the hull were breached. The Queen of the North sunk in the early hours of the morning on March 22. Of the 101 passengers and crew onboard, 99 were rescued. However, common-law couple Gerald Foisy and Shirley Rosette of 108 Mile House have been missing since the ferry went down are presumed to be dead. Underwater images obtained from a submersible equipped with video cameras show the vessel is under 426 meters of water on the ocean floor resting upright in silt. (Source: The Globe and Mail)
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