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El Faro's parent company sued for $100 million

Lawyer for family of El Faro crew member aboard TOTE Services

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(CNN, Facebook, USCG, family photos, MarineTraffic.com)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The family of Lonnie Jordan, a crew member aboard the cargo ship El Faro that sank in the Bahamas during Hurricane Joaquin, filed a wrongful death lawsuit Wednesday against TOTE Services, the company that owns El Faro, along with the ship's captain, Michael Davidson.

Jordan's estate claims the company and captain should be held accountable for sending the 41-year-old ship into the path of strengthening tropical weather.

The lawsuit claims negligence and is asking for $100 million in damages. Willie Gary, with the firm of Gary, Williams, Parenti, Watson and Gary, is representing Jordan's family.

"You didn't have to do what you did. You could've waited. The ship was not seaworthy and you all should've known that. But you had to deliver that cargo to get the green," Gray said in announcing the suit Wednesday morning.  "This case is about the oldest sin known to man: greed. TOTE Maritime are greedy people."

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Gray said the El Faro was not seaworthy.

Tote did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

El Faro, with a crew of 33, disappeared two days after it left Jacksonville for San Juan, Puerto Rico. Jordan was one of 15 crew members who lived in the Jacksonville area.

The Coast Guard believes the ship sank not long after its captain radioed that the ship had lost power northeast of Crooked Island, Bahamas, just as Hurricane Joaquin was growing into a Category 4 storm in the area.

The Coast Guard, Navy and ships hired by TOTE searched for five days, finding debris, a damaged lifeboat and one person deceased in a survival suit in the area before calling off the search.

Gary said he's in the process of talking with other families with loved ones on El Faro. He said right now he isn't naming who those people are.

He also said he would like to see changes to the industry but for now he wants to see this go to trial, which could take up to a year.

Gray said the overall message he wants to send to big business is that safety needs to come first above everything else.