Attorney Says NTSB Report Strengthens $5 Million Lawsuit Over Tugboat Deaths

Local News

A family feels their $5 million wrongful lawsuit against a marine company is bolstered after the NTSB released a report following the tugboat’s capsizing in the Mississippi River.

The report partly blames the company, Wepfer Marine, for lack of oversight.

A family attorney now tells Local 24 News the findings will strengthen their $5 million civil suit against the company.

“There’s nothing good about this, but what’s telling for us, is Wepfer Marine has always pointed the finger at Anquavious Jamison,” said Murray Wells, Jamison’s acting attorney.

The 19-year-old, a deckhand, was on the Ricky Robinson tugboat with its pilot, Keith Pigram. Pigram is also the teen’s step-father. Jamison’s body was found on board nine days after the tugboat went down. 

“The hatches were open because they had to be open to punch out the water,” Murray said. “This report really points the finger at two different places. One is the pilot, who is basically Mr. Jamison’s step-father.”

The report found the company and crew knew about a flooding problem for a number of months.

It also points the finger at the marine company, in part stating: 

Contributing to the sinking was the company’s inadequate oversight to ensure that crews kept hatches closed while the vessel was under way.”

Last year, the company capped its liability for the deaths at $10,000.

The NTSB estimates the damage to the boat at $1.5 million.

Search crews discovered Jamison’s body in the bathroom with a lifejacket on, the findings detail. His stepfather has still yet to be found.

“It’s chilling when you think about somebody going down the Mississippi River like that,” said the family attorney. “The idea that rather than take the boat out of the water and fix it, but instead have deckhands have the hatches open when they know it’s unsafe.”

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