Last year’s fire on International Expeditions’ La Estrella Amazonica is garnering attention in the consumer media as a lawsuit ignites controversy over a law limiting cruise ship liability.
According to ABC News, the daughters of the elderly couple that was killed onboard the ship as a result of the fire are pursuing legal action against International Expeditions after an investigation by the Peruvian navy found that the ship’s fire alarms did not operate, and that it took 20 minutes and 47 seconds after smoke filled the hallway for the ship’s crew to enter the couple’s cabin.
Through the case the daughters learned of the Death on the High Seas Act, ABC News reports, which is a federal statute passed in the 1920s that prevents surviving family members from obtaining judgments for non-pecuniary damages (including pain and suffering) when a cruise passenger dies in international waters. While the daughters contend that the Act does not apply to their case due to language in their parents’ ticket contract specifying that Delaware state law, not general maritime law, would apply to disputes arising from the cruise, they are joining with other families of victims of accidents at sea to lobby Congress this week for stronger protections for cruise passengers.
As Travel Agent reported last year, the fire broke out in a cabin on La Estrella Amazonica on April 10, 2016, when the ship was about four hours from Iquitos, Peru, on the Amazon River. The vessel had been chartered by International Expeditions.
Two guests died as a result of the fire, and no further injuries were reported. The vessel was later cleared to resume normal operations following government and independent safety inspections, International Expeditions reported at the time.