LM&W Discusses El Faro Maritime Accident and Lawsuit on CBS


Our maritime lawyers, Jason Margulies and Michael Winkleman, were recently featured on CBS discussing the tragic sinking of the El Faro cargo ship and the lawsuit our firm has filed on behalf of five crew member families.

The El Faro vessel was an aging 40-year-old commercial vessel that sank after sailing into the eye of Hurricane Joaquin (then a Category 4 storm) on October 1, 2015. The ship, which had 33 crew members on board at the time, was sailing from Jacksonville, Florida to San Juan, Puerto Rico when it began experiencing propulsion issues. The crew sent an SOS, explaining the vessel was disabled and flooding before losing all communication with the ship owner, Tote Maritime Puerto Rico, and maritime authorities.

An extensive search of the area was immediately initiated by the Coast Guard, but after a week, the rescue mission was called off on October 7. Only minor ship debris and one body were found. Several days later, on October 31, the National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) located the ship’s wreckage. Yet, the search continues for the Voyage Data Recorder.

While it was a devastating tragedy, the worst part remains the fact that the El Faro maritime accident was preventable. In the interview, our maritime attorneys explained that as a shipping company, Tote should have taken greater precautions to protect the El Faro crew from harm, especially since the company was aware that Joaquin was projected to strike the area where the ship would be headed.

For example, the company could have suggested an alternate route that did would not have involved the El Faro sailing straight into the hurricane’s forecasted path, or better yet, could have cancelled the sailing completely. Also, the ship’s captain, Michael Davidson, decided to keep sailing despite receiving news that the hurricane’s forces were expected to rapidly intensify.

Because of the negligent actions of both Tote and Davidson, our maritime accident lawyers have filed a lawsuit on behalf of five El Faro crew member families.

“The ship owners and operators were in intimate contact with Capt. Davidson throughout this voyage,” said attorney Margulies.  “They had many opportunities to tell him to pull back, or change route to a safer route.”

Attorney Winkleman also explained in the interview that “It defies logic to think that a 40-year-old ship would be able to withstand the kind of force that hurricane Joaquin had.”

A case such as this involves complex maritime statutes, which is why it’s important for surviving loved ones of the El Faro crew and other crew member accident victims to seek help with an attorney who specializes in admiralty and maritime law.

Click here to watch the CBS interview. You can also watch two other interviews featuring our attorneys by following the links below:

Click here to watch attorney Margulies’ interview.

Click here to watch attorney Winkleman’s interview