An appellate court ruled the City of New York cannot limit its liability in the 2003 Staten Island Ferry crash that left 11 dead and injured over a hundred others. This ruling upholds last year's decision from a U.S District Judge; the city could appeal with the Supreme Court, but the Staten Island Advance says "that option doesn't seem likely."
The city had wanted to cap the amount of the awards to the value of the ferry itself, $14.4 million but appellate judges criticized the city for shirk away from the blame, writing, "The city did not act with reasonable care when it allowed a single pilot to operate the Staten Island Ferry without at least one other person in or near the pilothouse... ready to render or summon assistance in the event of an emergency."
So far, the city has settled 125 cases for $35.5 million. The highest settlement so far has been for $9 million, to a woman who lost both legs. There are still 59 cases pending, including 8 deaths. A lawyer representing some of the victims said, "They've been told at two federal court levels that they were wrong and should finally sit down and compensate these people."
The October 15, 2003 crash occurred when occurred when the ferry hit a pier at the St. George terminal. The pilot, Assistant Captain Richard J Smith, had been tired (he was also medicated) and eventually pleaded guilty to manslaughter, receiving a sentence 18 months in prison. Ferry supervisor Patrick Ryan was also sentenced to just over a year in prison for not following the two-pilot rule.