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El Faro Crew Members' Families Settle With Shipper For $500K

crew members' photos

The company that owns the Jacksonville-based cargo ship that went down near Puerto Rico during Hurricane Joaquin Oct. 1 has agreed to a settlement with the families of 10 of the 33 mariners who were lost at sea.

"Since the loss of the El Faro, we have focused every effort on supporting the families of those on board. An important part of this support has entailed reaching fair and swift legal settlements for those who may choose them," TOTE Maritime officials said in a statement released Monday. "We can confirm that we have settled financially with 10 families through a respectful and equitable mediation process. We stress that our support of all the families will continue."

While TOTE officials said they would not release details of the settlement "out of respect for the legal process and the privacy of the families," court documents show each family will receive $500,000 for pain and suffering plus compensation for lost wages and other losses.

The families included in the settlement include the captain’s, the five Polish crew members’ and four others’, including Jacksonville resident Roan Lightfoot’s. Claims for the remaining 23 crew members, many of whom were from Jacksonville, are still pending.

TOTE had asked a federal judge to limit or release its liability, and company officials have claimed that the El Faro was maintained properly and in good condition. 

After weeks of searching for the sunken ship, a special Navy deep-sea exploration ship found the wreckage. The National Transportation Safety Board released video last month showing the remains of the El Faro.