Water Taxi Lawsuit Planned

Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Two insurance firms representing the company whose water taxi overturned in Baltimore's Inner Harbor in 2004, killing five people, plan to sue the U.S. Coast Guard, alleging that the maritime service certified the vessel for too many passengers. The companies, which paid confidential settlements to the victims on board the Lady D after it capsized in a sudden storm between Fort McHenry and Fells Point, said the vessel was not properly tested for stability by the Coast Guard before it was put to use. And, the lawsuit is expected to say, it never should have been permitted to carry 25 people. If successful, the suit could shift at least some attention for the accident away from the captain, Francis Deppner, who cast off from the dock at the fort despite heavy winds, dark clouds and, according to passenger recollections of the day, lightning. The Baltimore Sun reported that the lawsuit would be filed in U.S. District Court. The Coast Guard is required to inspect, certify and regulate boats constructed in the United States, and that includes conducting stability tests to determine how many passengers a vessel can safely carry. (Source: Baltimore Sun)
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