Lawyers for the families of the two young Hungarian tourists who died after the collision between the duck-boat and a garbage barge have filed suit in PA state court, against both the tour operator and the tugboat company.
Attorneys claim that the deaths were senseless and preventable. Punitive damages are being sought.
I would guess that punitive damages may apply in this case, given the many safety measures that appear to have been violated by both vessels:
• a non-working airhorn on the duck boat;
• attorneys charge that the dead were trapped in the boat by the canopy of the duck boat; an NTSB report on a 1999 duck boat accident said that canopies on the amphibious vessels were a safety threat and should be removed;
• no look-out posted on the barge (violation of statute);
• attorneys received an anonymous tip, that at the time of the collision, the tug's helmsman had turned the volume of the vessel's marine radio down so he could talk on his cell phone; the duck boat's distress message went unheard.
Perhaps criminal charges will be considered by authorities concerning the helmsmans' lack of concern for safety on the river.