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New Lawsuit Filed Over Deadly Excursion Boat Fire In Channel Islands

(Ventura County Fire Department photo)
The remains of the Santa Barbara-based excursion boat "Conception" off of Santa Cruz Island on Labor Day of 2019. 34 people died in the fire.

Attorneys representing the families of four of the victims of last year’s deadly excursion boat fire in the Channel Islands which killed 34 people have announced a lawsuit against the boat’s owner. The suit claims the Conception failed to have a roving watch as required by law. It also asserts the craft had inadequate means of escape from the sleeping quarters, and that it didn’t have enough fire suppression gear.

Federal investigators say it appears there was no roving watch underway as required when the early morning fire started. But, they have said the boat was in compliance with safety regulations. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

The boat’s owner, Truth Aquatics, had filed a preemptive lawsuit in federal court. It’s an effort to invoke a maritime law from the 1850’s which would limit the liability of the craft’s owners. Attorneys for the families contend the law would not apply in this case.

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