Baltimore Sues Owner of Ship That Crashed Into Key Bridge, Alleging Negligence

The city of Baltimore sues the owner and manager of the container ship Dali for negligence, alleging they put an unseaworthy vessel into the water, causing a bridge collapse that killed 6 and crippled the port's economy.

Rizwan Shah
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Baltimore Sues Owner of Ship That Crashed Into Key Bridge, Alleging Negligence

Baltimore Sues Owner of Ship That Crashed Into Key Bridge, Alleging Negligence

The city of Baltimore has filed a lawsuit against the owner and manager of the container ship Dali, which crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge on April 23, 2024, causing the bridge to collapse and killing six construction workers. The city alleges that Grace Ocean Private Limited and Synergy Marine PTE LTD were negligent in allowing the ship to leave the Port of Baltimore despite known power supply issues and an ill-prepared crew.

According to the lawsuit, the Dali experienced electrical problems before departing the port around 12:45 a.m. on March 26. However, the companies still put the "clearly unseaworthy vessel into the water," the city claims. The ship crashed into the bridge around 1:30 a.m., shortly after leaving the port.

The city accuses the ship's crew of lacking proper skill and training to navigate the vessel. The lawsuit also alleges that alarms indicating power supply issues were ignored before the ship left the port, and that the crew failed to maintain or use several pieces of equipment, including the ship's engine and propulsion system.

Why this matters: The collapse of the Francis Scott Key bridge has had a significant impact on the Port of Baltimore, a vital source of jobs and revenue for the city. The incident has brought the region's primary economic engine to a halt, with the bridge expected to be out of service for at least several months.

The ship's owner and manager have filed a petition seeking to limit their liability to $43.6 million, the estimated value of the ship and its cargo. However, the city is seeking to prevent any such limitation, arguing that the evidence of fault should preclude it. Baltimore is demanding a jury trial and full liability from the owners for the bridge collapse.

Investigations into the cause of the accident are ongoing, with the FBI launching a criminal probe focusing on whether the crew knew about the ship's serious systems problems when it left the port. The National Transportation Safety Board and U.S. Coast Guard are also conducting separate investigations.

Baltimore City Solicitor Hilary Ruley stated, "The Dali's owner and manager were grossly and potentially criminally negligent in putting a clearly unseaworthy vessel into the water, and must be held accountable." The city is seeking damages to cover the replacement of the bridge, cleanup costs, and increased public service expenses resulting from the collapse.

Key Takeaways

  • Baltimore sues Dali ship owners for negligence causing bridge collapse, killing 6.
  • Dali had electrical issues before departure but was still put to sea, lawsuit claims.
  • Crew lacked skills and training to navigate vessel, ignored power supply alarms.
  • Bridge collapse halts Port of Baltimore, a vital economic engine for the city.
  • Investigations ongoing, owners seek to limit liability, city demands full accountability.