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January 2023    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 49, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Conception Deaths Spark New Owner Liability Law

from the January, 2023 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Federal lawmakers have changed a 19th-century maritime liability rule for accident victims and their families. It was in response to the 2019 boat fire off the coast of Santa Barbara, California, that killed 34 people but left the victims' families with no compensation.

The Small Passenger Vessel Liability Fairness Act updates the Limitation of Liability Act of 1851, which held that vessel owners could limit their financial accountability for any losses incurred, including loss of life, to the value of the vessel's remains. In the case of the liveaboard Conception, where an inferno trapped 33 passengers and one crew member in the bunkroom below deck three years ago, the boat was a total loss. Although the craft was clearly unsafe, nothing was left for the victims' families....

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