Family of sunken El Faro crew member files $100 million lawsuit

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Family of El Faro Crew Member Files $100 Million Lawsuit

The family of a crew member missing from the El Faro cargo ship is seeking $100 million in a negligence and wrongful death lawsuit against the owners and captain of the ship that sank off the Bahamas in a hurricane two weeks ago.

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The lawsuit on behalf of the estate of Lonnie Jordan, one of the 33 crew members presumed dead, was filed on Wednesday in Jacksonville, against Tote Services Inc and Tote Maritime Puerto Rico, as well as the El Faro captain, according to court documents.

"Tote Services, negligently permitted the El Faro to sail out to sea despite being in an unseaworthy condition to handle the conditions of a violent storm," the lawsuit states.

See images related to the El Faro disaster:

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El Faro cargo ship sinks (Bahamas Missing Ship)
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Family of sunken El Faro crew member files $100 million lawsuit
El Faro, provided by TOTE Maritime Services
ROCKLAND, ME - OCTOBER 5: John Gerry, a cousin of Dylan Meklin, is overcome with emotion after a candlelight vigil in honor of Meklin at the Fishermen's Memorial in Rockland Harbor Monday, October 5, 2015. Meklin, along with three other Mainers and 29 other souls, were aboard El Faro, a cargo ship which is believe to have sunk in the path of Hurricane Joaquin. 'I played football with him and everything,' said Gerry. (Photo by Gabe Souza/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
ROCKLAND, ME - OCTOBER 5: A candlelight vigil was held at the Fishermen's Memorial in Rockland Harbor for Dylan Meklin, 23, of Rockland, and Danielle Randolph, 34, also of Rockland, Monday, October 5, 2015. The pair are among four Mainers and 29 other souls who were aboard El Faro, a cargo ship which is believe to have sunk in the path of Hurricane Joaquin. (Photo by Gabe Souza/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
CASTINE, ME - OCTOBER 6: Travis Emerson, right, comforts Alexi Galley after a vigil for the crew members of the cargo ship El Faro, which is believed to have sunk off the Bahamas during Hurricane Joaquin. Four of the ship's crew, Capt. Michael Davidson of Windham, Michael Holland of Wilton, Danielle Randolph of Rockland and Dylan Meklin, both of Rockland, are all graduates of Maine Maritime Academy. (Photo by Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
U.S.C.G. Cpt. Mark Fedor, right, and Lt. Cmd. Gabe Somma brief the media on the search for survivors of the cargo ship El Faro that sank during Hurricane Joaquin at the Coast Guard Station at the Opa Locka Airport on Monday, Oct. 5, 2015. (Walter Michot/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)
OPA LOCKA, FL - OCTOBER 05: U.S. Coast Guard Captain Mark Fedor (L) and Lt. Commander Gabe Somma walk away after speaking to the media, at U.S. Coast Guard Station Miami, about the sinking of the 790-foot container ship El Faro on October 5, 2015 in Opa Locka, Florida. The Coast Guard has concluded that the ship most likely sank after encountering Hurricane Joaquin last Thursday, but Coast Guard cutters and aircraft and a U.S. Navy plane continued searching for the 33 missing crew members. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
#BreakingNews @USCGSoutheast C-130 just lands, reports 225 SqMi debris field of styrofoam, wood, cargo, other items. http://t.co/4us2EP4L4C
#BreakingNews: @USCGSoutheast MH-60 refueling at sea as search crews cover 70K+ sqNM in the search for 790' #ElFaro http://t.co/6ICMmxraO2
#BreakingNews @USCGSoutheast Video Release: Recovery of #ElFaro life ring. http://t.co/X0RfPsheTM
#BreakingNews: @USCGSoutheast search for #ElFaro has covered more than 30K sqNM. http://t.co/hBlBWAl0GK http://t.co/9H4PVf4wyM
#BreakingNews @USCGSoutheast aircrew searching IVO #hurricane #Joaquin for container ship w/ crew of 33. http://t.co/cpEfzRi5G1
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Attorney Willie E. Gary, flanked by relatives of other crew members, told reporters outside the Duval County courthouse, "the ship should have never left dock."

More lawsuits would follow on behalf of the other relatives, warned Gary, a flamboyant Florida-based personal injury lawyer who has taken on major corporations such as Walt Disney and Anheuser-Busch.

"We're at war now," Gary said.

Tote Maritime declined to discuss the lawsuit and a spokesman said the company was "fully focused on supporting the families and their loved ones."

Tote executives have previously said the captain sailed with a sound plan and blamed the sinking on engine failure.

Jordan, 33, of Jacksonville, worked on the ship for 13 years as a cook and at other jobs, his family told the Jacksonville Times-Union.

See U.S. Coast Guard search and rescue statistics:

The 790-foot container ship left Jacksonville on a weekly cargo run to Puerto Rico on the evening of Sept. 29. It was last heard from on the morning of Oct. 1 when the captain communicated that the ship had taken on water, was listing at 15 degrees and had lost propulsion.

Its last known position was close to the eye of Hurricane Joaquin, battling 50 foot waves and winds over 100 miles per hour (161 km per hour).

The U.S. Coast Guard called off a search and rescue mission last week after finding only one body amid debris from the ship.

A National Transportation Safety Board investigation is under way and is coordinating a salvage team to retrieve the ship's voyage data recorder.

(Reporting by David Adams in Miami and Barbara Liston in Orlando; Editing by Bernard Orr and David Gregorio)

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