Wall Street Ferry Crash Prompts 45 Claims by Commuters

The owner of SeaStreak Wall Street, a commuter ferry that crashed in Manhattan’s financial district on Jan. 9, faces at least 45 passenger claims for damages, according to a court filing.

The claims are pending in federal court in Newark, New Jersey, where SeaStreak sued under admiralty law on Jan. 16 and asked a judge to limit the company’s liability to $7.6 million. U.S. District Judge William Martini gave the passengers until yesterday to make claims.

“There are presently more than 45 claims filed in the case, with a total claimed amount in excess of $75 million,” SeaStreak LLC’s lawyers wrote in a letter filed yesterday. “SeaStreak has settled more than 35 personal injury and property loss/damage claims that were submitted directly to SeaStreak.”

The ferry had 326 people aboard when it left Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey, at 8 a.m. on Jan. 9 and slammed into a docking barge at 8:43 a.m., authorities said at the time. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash.

SeaStreak has reached settlements ranging from free monthly tickets to $265,000, according to the filing yesterday. The company also has begun repairing the docking barge, which is estimated to cost $350,000.

SeaStreak attorney Jeremy J.O. Harwood of Blank Rome LLP didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.

One attorney for claimants, Edward Petkevis, said they will argue that Martini should defeat SeaStreak’s attempt to limit liability in the case.

‘Devastating Effect’

“If SeaStreak is successful in their limitation complaint, it would have a devastating effect upon the claims of the injured passengers,” Petkevis said. “I am as confident as I can be that limitation will be defeated and the claimants will be able to pursue the full value of their claims.”

SeaStreak operates five vessels between central New Jersey and Manhattan, and two between New Bedford and Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, according to the company’s website.

SeaStreak is a sister company of Moran Towing Co., the Interlake Steamship Co. and Mormac Marine Group Inc., according to the website. SeaStreak and its sister companies are owned by the Barker and Tregurtha families. James R. Barker acts as chairman of SeaStreak and Paul R. Tregurtha is chairman and chief executive officer of Moran Towing, according to the website.

The case is In re SeaStreak LLC, 13-cv-00315, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey (Newark).

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