LEWISTON (AP) — Local law firm Berman & Simmons is representing the families of two Maine sailors lost on a freighter that sank during a hurricane this year. The families are challenging the vessel owner’s attempt to limit financial responsibility.

The legal challenge was filed Tuesday in Jacksonville, Fla., by the families of 34-year-old Danielle Randolph and 23-year-old Dylan Meklin, both of Rockland. 

Both crew members were on the El Faro cargo ship Oct. 1 that sank after losing engine power and getting caught in Hurricane Joaquin, a category four storm.

After multiple lawsuits filed by families of other crew members, representatives of shipowner Tote Marine have asked a judge to limit the company’s liability.

The two Maine plaintiffs’ attorney, Benjamin Gideon of Berman & Simmons, said Tote’s liability should not be limited because it is responsible for allowing the ship to navigate too close to the storm, while in a condition that wasn’t seaworthy and was overloaded with cargo.

The El Faro lost propulsion, took on water and capsized in the storm, resulting in the deaths of all 33 crew members.

“This tragedy has been felt in Maine, Florida and throughout the maritime community,” Gideon said. “We do not think it is appropriate for any court to impose limitations on the shipowner’s liability or financial responsibility. Our role is to protect the rights of the Randolph and Meklin families.”

Tote spokesman Michael Hanson said the company is not commenting on individual lawsuits.

Sun Journal staff contributed to this report

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