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California dive boat owners file lawsuit to avoid liability after deadly fire



The owners of a California dive boat where 34 people died in a fire over the weekend have filed a lawsuit to avoid liability in the case, as investigators say the crew of the ship made several attempts to save victims who were trapped by the blaze.

Truth Aquatics Inc. filed suit Thursday in Los Angeles federal court under a pre-Civil War provision of maritime law that allows it to limit its liability.

The suit said company and owners Glen and Dana Fritzler “used reasonable care to make the Conception seaworthy, and she was, at all relevant times, tight, staunch, and strong, fully and properly manned, equipped and supplied and in all respects seaworthy and fit for the service in which she was engaged. ”

Anyone who could make a claim against the company would be served with the notice that the firm was asserting it was not liable for damages and victims would have a limited time to challenge that claim.

Such laws have their origins in 1

8th century England and were designed to encourage the shipping business. The U.S. law dates to 1851.

The time-tested legal maneuver has been successfully employed by the owners of the Titanic and countless other crafts, and many maritime law experts have said they'd anticipated it. Still, the speed at which it was filed, just three days after the deadly inferno Monday in which all passengers on the boat and one crew member died, struck some observers as being in poor taste.

No cause for the fire has been

STATE-OF-THE-ART MILITARY TECH – 'RAPID DNA' – IS USED TO ID VICTIMS OF CALIFORNIA DIVE BOAT FIRE

Charles Naylor, who has represented victims in maritime law cases, said action forced family members in their grief to respond to a lawsuit.

Aboard were respected scientists, engineers, free spirits and parents with their teenage and adult children – all brought together over a passion for scuba diving. Two Divers Celebrating Their Birthdays

All those killed in Labor Day tragedy were sleeping below deck when the fire broke out around 3 a.m. Jennifer Homendy of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), who was investigating the cause, said all five had been interviewed and described the terrifying situation.

One crew member reported being awakened by a noise and seeing flames pouring from the galley area. The fire spread quickly, and one crew member broke a leg jumping to the deck but still tried to get to the 33 passengers and one crew member in the bunk room below. The crew member was driven back by flames.

They also said they tried to get through windows to help those trapped but couldn't and then abandoned ship.

“At that point, due to heat, flames and smoke, the crew had to jump from the boat, "Homendy said.

The crew soon returned to the skiff but couldn't find any survivors.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP [19659003] Investigators said they were examining the potential ignition sources of a deadly fire on the scuba diving boat, including electronics aboard the vessel.

“We are not ruling anything out at this point,” Homendy said.

in full compliance with Coast Guard regulations, officials said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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