Most of the vacationers returning to New York City from their Havana holiday aboard the ship were sleeping peacefully in their cabins in the small hours of the morning on September 8, 1934. Later, nobody knew for sure just how the fire started in the locker located in the ship’s First-Class Writing Room on Deck B. Once it had started however, it quickly burned through the main electrical cables, cutting off all of the ship’s lights. Next, it cut the hydraulic lines, and the ship’s rudder became useless.
The fire moved on, ravenously feeding on the flammable varnishes and ornate carved wooden furnishings and fine carpets. Within an hour, flame had engulfed the darkened ship; in the ensuing chaos, visibility was almost nil between the darkness of night and the billowing smoke. Only half of the ship’s lifeboats were launched, and only 85 of the 549 people traveling on the ship – mostly crewmembers – were aboard them.
135 people died as a result of the tragic fire aboard the S.S. Morro Castle that day. What happened in response, however, turned out to create an even greater tragedy.
Preventing Fires at Sea
It is also possible to sue the vessel; under maritime law, a ship is considered a “legal entity,” much like a corporation or an estate. However, damages are limited to the value of the ship at the time the suit is filed.
Only a knowledgeable mesothelioma lawyer with experience in asbestos litigation can determine the most effective course of action in pursuing a particular asbestos suit. However, this will probably consist of action against the asbestos manufacturer, or more likely, its successors; even companies that have become bankrupt are usually bought up by larger corporations. When this happens, the corporation that purchases another company incurs its liabilities as well.