Baltimore suing owner and operator of cargo ship involved in Key Bridge collapse

The City of Baltimore has decided to take legal action against the owner and operator of the cargo ship that caused the Key Bridge collapse, according to Mayor Brandon Scott.

The city “is taking legal steps to proactively and aggressively address the catastrophic impact the Key Bridge collapse has had on the City of Baltimore and its residents, including the families of the victims, business owners, longshoremen and other port workers”, said a statement released by his office on Monday.

The Port of Baltimore supports more than 15,000 jobs. The port has been closed since the collapse but officials estimate that they’ll be able to fully reopen the passageway by the end of May.

The mayor’s office did not release information about the monetary amount being sought in any potential legal claims, but experts in the insurance industry suggest that the figure to clear the current bridge and build a new one could reach into the billions.

Any potential claims are likely to be filed against Synergy Marine Group, the Dali ship’s manager, Grace Ocean Private Limited, the owner, Maersk, the charterer and Hyundai, the manufacturer. The city also said that it intends to sue any other potentially liable third parties.

The Independent reached out to the organisations involved for comment. A representative for Maersk said the company is “closely following the situation and are cooperating with the authorities, the ship owner and the ship manager/operator on all aspects of the incident, including the investigation and information regarding the cargo that was on board the Dali...

“As the investigation remains ongoing, we have no additional comment”.

In a written statement, Baltimore Solicitor Ebony M Thompson said, “It is time to hold the M/V Dali’s owner, charterer, manager/operator, manufacturer and others accountable for the city’s substantial and ongoing economic losses arising from this tragedy, as well as for the unimaginable distress they have caused to the city’s residents, businesses, workers and their families”.

Earlier this month, Synergy Marine Group and Grace Ocean Private Limited filed an action in the US District Court of Maryland to limit their legal liability to $43.1m.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has launched a probe into the incident, The Washington Post reported, and attorneys for the victims’ families are seeking to challenge the liability limit.

When the ship crashed into the Key Bridge in March, eight construction workers were on top of it filling potholes. At least seven of them were sent into the Patapsco River after the collision.

One person was rescued from the water, while six others died. Another victim was rescued from the scene but it’s unclear if they fell into the water. Four of the bodies of the victims have been recovered while two remain missing.

The city has retained attorneys with the law firms DiCello Levitt and Saltz Mongeluzzi Bendesky, which is based in Philadelphia. An attorney for Saltz Mongeluzzi Bendesky served as co-lead counsel for the victims of the Surfside condo collapse in 2021.

Sara Gross, the city’s law department chief of affirmative litigation, will also be representing the city in ongoing claims.