According to a Carnival news release, when the Triumph broke free last week four bollards broke apart at the BAE dock. That adds a new wrinkle to what will be a complicated case.
"This whole Triumph deal is an admiralty lawyer's dream they're going to be fighting that out for 2 to 3 years probably," says Port Authority Director James Lyons. I spoke with a local admiralty lawyer. Ed Massey isn't involved with the triumph case but he says, most of the time, a shipyard like BAE is responsible for securing a ship when it comes in for repairs. However, there's a chance carnival was in charge.
"If they give directions to either their crew members to secure the vessel or did they order, direct or instruct BAE employees on how to moor the vessel," says Massey. If Carnival secured the ship they could be liable. The Army Corps of Engineers may be involved in future litigation--whoever made or installed the bollards could be dragged into court along with the family of Buster Johnson.
Currently OSHA and the Coast Guard are conducting their own investigation. If they determine negligence-- fines could be levied against BAE, Carnival or others. The Triumph accident is reminiscent of a 2005 case where a Mexican oil rig in mobile for repairs was lifted by Katrina storm surge and slammed a bridge. The case involved several plaintiffs and took years to resolve.