The owners of the Santa Barbara dive boat that burned during the Labor Day weekend by the Chanel Islands, killing 34 people on board, including 33 passengers and one crew member, are attempting to not only limit their liability but actually are attempting to use an old Maritime law so they do not have to pay any compensation at all to the families of those killed or any money to anyone else who may have been injured.
Since this horrific incident occurred on a boat at sea it is governed by United States maritime law, which is different than the law most of us are used to. Under U.S. maritime law, the owners of a ship may be responsible or liable for personal injuries and deaths, as well as other losses and damages. But also under maritime law this legal responsibility or liability may be limited to the value of the ship and its freight at the end of the voyage if the owner of the ship can show the acts of negligence or unseaworthiness that caused the injury or loss were not known and should not have been known by the owners of the ship.
And, of course, the owners of the Conception, or perhaps their insurers, are trying to take advantage of this antiquated, unconscionable and unfair law to limit their liability because the value post voyage is probably nothing or zero dollars (except for some possible salvage value of the destroyed boat which may be exceeded by the salvage costs).