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El Faro Tragedy Sparks $100 Million Lawsuit Against TOTE Maritime 

El Faro Tragedy Sparks $100 Million Lawsuit Against TOTE Maritime 

Posted by on Oct 24, 2015 in Law, Whistleblower Law |

Audiences around the world followed the search for the El Faro cargo ship and her crew. The ship, which was carrying cars and other vehicles from Jacksonville, Florida, was believed to have been damaged in Hurricane Joaquin and subsequently sank. There were 33 crew members on board, and though some debris, and the wreckage of a lifeboat and an empty survival suit were found, all of the crew of the El Faro are presumed to have perished at sea. 

$100 Million Lawsuit

Funding-for-Lawsuits-GavelThe family of one of the people who was working on board the El Faro have come together to file a $100 million lawsuit against the companies who owned and ran the El Faro. Joanna Johnson, who is the executor of crew member Lonnie Jordan’s estate, has hired notable attorney Willie E. Gary to file the lawsuit on her behalf. Gary, who works for leading Florida law firm Gary, Williams, Parenti, Watson & Gary, P.L.L.C., bases his case on the fact that the El Faro should not have been sent into the storm, claiming that the company in charge of shipping the cargo was putting profit before the lives and safety of its employees. 

The lawsuit also claims that the ship was too old, and not structurally sound enough to withstand the stormy seas she was headed into. Some reports since the tragedy have included former employees who had worked on the El Faro saying that this was indeed the case, though the ship had passed all recent required safety inspections, though recommendations had been made for the boilers on the ship to be serviced – this was scheduled to be carried out in November. 

The Company Behind El Faro

How-to-Protect-Your-Property-From-LawsuitThe El Faro is owned by TOTE Services and TOTE Maritime, Puerto Rico. As yet, spokespeople for this company have not commented specifically on the Willi E. Gary lawsuit, stating that it is their policy not to talk about any individual lawsuit filed against them. However, Michael Hanson, one of the spokesmen for TOTE Services, did say that “The company remains fully focused on supporting the families and their loved ones”.

As with any high profile tragedy, new information and speculation is coming to light all the time about the El Faro disaster. The latest reports say that the captain of the El Faro did in fact report a breach before the ship lost communications. With so much interest in this case and public sympathy for the crew and their families this lawsuit adds more drama to an already huge story.

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It will be interesting to see how the lawsuit from Joanna Johnson and Willie E. Gary plays out and what the wider implications are for shipping companies and the protocols for ensuring ships are sea worthy and that people are not required to send them into conditions they may not be able to weather. The media is certain to be keeping a very close watch on further developments in the El Faro story.

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Whistleblowers and Protection

Whistleblowers and Protection

Posted by on Oct 23, 2015 in Protection, The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Whistleblower Law |

People who see a wrongdoing at work have a moral obligation to make this a known to the public and bring this to justice.  However, many people choose to remain silent.  Why is this so?  Well, usually, people don’t have enough faith in whistleblower law and are afraid of potential retaliation on their employer. 

If you are in a situation where you are wondering whether or not you should report some violations you have a witness at work, perhaps this article will persuade you to pursue justice instead of being afraid whether or not you should react in the first place.

whistleblowerMany people are afraid of retaliation, which come in all sorts of forms.  For some, and this may mean that they will lose their job.  For others, it goes beyond that, and means that they won’t be able to carry on with their careers.  Whereas sometimes, the whistleblowers are kept in the same company, in the same position, even, and still, they experience different treatment than other employees in the company.

In fear often not jeopardizing their position and their job, a lot of people are afraid to do the right thing.  However, they should not be afraid because many laws (ball to state and Federal) support you in every possible way in order to bring wrongdoings and wrongdoers to the justice.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have literally a number of regulations which are designed especially to protect whistleblowers. OSHA even has a Whistleblower Protection Program which enforces the statutory and regulatory provisions are more than twenty different statutes designs to protect employees who had reported violations of the law. The Whistleblower Protection Program protects the whistleblowers from a variety of retaliations, and are not just those which indirectly affect the safety and well-being of the person who reports violations.

Legal Questions : About the Whistleblower Protection Act

The Whistleblower Protection Program protects those who report matters of concern regarding airlines, close your products, environmental violations, commercial motor carriers, financial violations, food safety issues, Health Insurance frauds, motor vehicle safety, nuclear safety, utility pipelines, public transportation, railroads, ships, securities violations, as well as many others which are protected by this program.

Also, one of the primary sources of the whistleblower protection in recent years has come from the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. This Act protects whistleblowers far beyond the legal remedies for wrongdoings.

istock_000009688562xsmall-resized-600Therefore, with all the laws which are protecting whistleblowers you should not be afraid to blow the whistle once you see a wrongdoing.  If you suspect that you have been fired for whistleblowing, contact your attorney.  Eggs in your best interest that you fly rule the appropriate paperwork and get your claim started in order to report illegal retaliation.  Hopefully, you will reach justice.

Disclaimer: Even though this article aims to give proper information, it is still not a substitution for legal advice given by a professional.  Please consult a lawyer or an attorney for experts’ advice.

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