In Re Truth Aquatics, Inc., Glen Richard Fritzler and Dana Jeanne Fritzler, et al.
On or about September 2, 2019 (over Labor Day Weekend), the motor vessel Conception—which was operating as a dive boat at the time—suffered a catastrophic fire which resulted in the deaths of 34 individuals. In an effort to reduce their potential exposure, the owners of the vessel quickly filed on September 5, 2019, a complaint for exoneration from or limitation of liability pursuant to the Shipowner’s Limitation of Liability Act, 46 U.S.C. Sec. 30501, et seq. The Limitation of Liability Act was initially instituted in 1851 and was designed to protect this country’s maritime industry by allowing vessel interests to of course contest liability, but even if the vessel was found to be at fault, vessel interests would able to limit their liability to the value of the vessel post-casualty, plus any outstanding freight owed for the voyage in question, provided they lack “privity or knowledge” of the cause of loss or injury. The Limitation of Liability Act has been invoked in many well-known maritime disasters such as the Titanic and Deepwater Horizon.