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$7M lawsuit targets weather company for sinking of El Faro

Mainers Dylan Meklin, Danielle Randolph, Capt. Michael Davidson, and Michael Holland were on board El Faro (WGME file photo)

FLORIDA (WGME) - Several insurance companies are suing a company that provides weather forecasting services, claiming one of the company's products is to blame for the sinking of the cargo ship El Faro.

El Faro sank in October 2015 with 33 crew members on board, including 4 Mainers.

The suit, filed in Florida federal court, alleges the Bon Voyage System version 7 (BVS 7), used by El Faro, "provided delayed, inaccurate, and misleading information the Vessel about the position of the storm and was a substantial factor in the Vessel sailing nearly directly into the eye of the hurricane."

The equipment is manufactured, distributed, and sold by StormGeo (d.b.a Applied Weather Technology), according to the lawsuit.

The suit claims TOTE bought the equipment for planning out routes for its vessels to avoid major storms and that El Faro Captain Michael Davidson relied almost solely on the information from the BVS 7 to make decisions on where to navigate.

"The late Captain was clearly unaware of the delayed and inaccurate Hurricane locations and projections being proffered by the BVS 7 Product, and thus erroneously relied upon them as current and accurate. Indeed, so strongly did the late Captain trust the accuracy of the BVS 7 Product, that when, on several occasions the Vessel's mates suggested a change of course, he rejected those suggestions," according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit is seeking $7 million for the value of lost goods and includes a list of items on board including frozen food, appliances, and juice.

StormGeo released the following statement:

"During the NTSB hearings regarding the El Faro, StormGeo Corp U.S. testified that weather routing bulletins were sent to the ship, but not routing guidance, which was not ordered as part of the service contract. The information provided by StormGeo Corp. U.S. was accurate as per the model predictions. StormGeo Corp. U.S. believes any further response is inappropriate while the NTSB investigation is ongoing."

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