Even though the official investigations into the sinking of the HMS Bounty last October have not yet produced reports, the tragic death of one of the crew, Claudene Christian, is already the subject of a law suit against the current owner of the Bounty, businessman Robert Hansen, and the Bounty Organisation itself.
Law suit for $90million claims the crew were not competent and under-experienced
Claudene Christian's mother, also called Claudene, is suing for $90million for the 'wrongful death' of her daughter.
Claiming that Hansen knew of the rotted frames, the general disrepair of Bounty, the relative inexperience of the crew he employed , his decision to allow Bounty to sail from New London at all along with Walbridge’s actions during the voyage was at fault. The complaint calls the trip, aiming directly into the position where they knew Hurricane Sandy to be, was '…the greatest mismatch between a vessel and a peril of the sea that would ever occur or could ever be imagined.'
The complaint alleges twenty-nine separate acts of 'negligence, gross negligence, willful, callous and reckless conduct' by Hansen and the HMS Bounty Organization that directly led to Claudene Christian’s death. These allegations range from the mismanagement of repairs and alterations to the reckless actions by the Captain that occurred during Bounty’s last days.
HMS Bounty in her death throes
There were the obvious ignored warnings about the approaching storm.
There were warnings from shipyard personnel about the condition of the ship. There were even warnings from members of the crew that were ignored. After leaving New London, Bounty suffered numerous mechanical and structural failures and actually began flooding on Saturday, yet Walbridge made no mention of any trouble to anyone until late Sunday night.
When he finally did, he included the phrase, 'We are not in danger tonight.' This statement allegedly led to confusion and delayed Coast Guard response.
Included in the complaint are several passages from emails sent from Walbridge to Hansen and Tracy Simonin. Mellusi uses them to make the point that Walbridge – despite his years of experience aboard Bounty – 'lacked a level of professional knowledge and experience which would even allow him to appreciate the imminent danger awaiting BOUNTY and her crew.'
Here is one:
October 26th, 12:54 PM: '..Sandy looks like a mean one. Right now we are on a converging course. I am actually headed to the dangerous side of it. Hoping like a deer if I aim at it, it won’t be there when I get there.'
His hope was not to be fulfilled, and he and Claudene Christian were to lose their lives as a result.