Two other passengers sue Bath museum over capsized schooner

The Mary E, a schooner built in Bath in 1906, rests on its side as the crews work to stabilize the ship and bring all passengers down to safety. Photo courtesy of Paul Kalkstein

Two other passengers who were aboard the Mary E when it capsized in July have filed lawsuits against the Maine Maritime Museum, saying the museum is responsible for the injuries they sustained in the incident.

Allison and Thomas Poirier allege the Mary E was “unfit for the intended voyage, in poor condition, unsafe and seaworthy, poorly maintained and at risk of capsizing and sinking,” according to separate court documents filed in district court the United States. in Portland on November 12.

The action comes after another passenger filed a complaint against the museum in October.

The Poiriers state that the vessel was not seaworthy and that the master and crew of the schooner were “unfit, incompetent, poorly experienced, poorly trained, understaffed, thus rendering the vessel unsafe and unfit for service. navigation, thereby creating a reasonably foreseeable risk of capsizing and sinking. “As a result,” say the Poiriers, “their injuries were caused” solely by the negligence, recklessness, recklessness, abandonment, fault, neglect or neglect “of the museum and its employees.

On July 30, the Mary E capsized while on a cruise with 15 passengers and three crew on board. The 73-foot schooner capsized in the Kennebec River around 5:30 p.m. near the Doubling Point Lighthouse in Arrowsic, according to Bath Police Chief Andrew Booth.

All passengers were rescued by Bath Iron Works security, Sea Tow and Bath Police. Two people were taken to Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick, Coast Guard Lt. James McDonough said.

Allison Poirier claims to have “sustained serious injuries including, but not limited to, a fractured left foot and psychological injuries” during the capsize.

Allison and Thomas Poirier both reportedly felt “pain, anxiety, shock and physical, mental and emotional suffering, and continue to do so to this day” as a result of the incident, according to their court documents.

According to court documents, the two passengers seek damages for “conscious pain and suffering”, emotional and psychological stress, medical bills and “other [financial] losses that discovery may reveal.

The Poiriers are represented by lawyers Stephen Koerting of Kelly, Remmel and Zimmerman and Timothy Schweitzer of Hofmann and Schweitzer. Neither Koerting nor Schweitzer immediately returned requests for comment on Monday regarding what the Poiriers are asking for in compensation.

Maine Maritime Museum spokeswoman Katie Spiridakis declined to comment on the Poiriers’ costumes, but said: “The safety of the passengers of the Mary E, as well as all museum guests, is of the utmost importance. . “

Allison and Thomas Poiriers’ claims come less than a month after another Mary E passenger, Karen Baldwin, filed a similar lawsuit against the museum in October. In his lawsuit, Baldwin alleges that the museum is responsible for his injuries because the Mary E was not seaworthy and the ship’s crew was poorly trained, among other allegations.

Baldwin’s lawsuit was the first brought against the museum after the capsizing. The museum denied allegations last week that it was responsible for the capsizing of the schooner and the injuries Baldwin sustained in the incident.

The three lawsuits also dismiss a lawsuit filed by the museum with the U.S. District Court in Portland in an attempt to avoid potential liability related to the incident.

According to court documents filed on August 20, the Bath Museum claimed it was not responsible for the “loss, damage, injury and destruction” suffered during the capsizing because it “exercised due diligence in returning the vessel in question “seaworthy and safe” before and during the cruise on July 30.

Allison and Thomas Poirier argue that the capsizing of the Mary E occurred as a result of the “careless, willful, callous and reckless conduct of the museum which allowed the vessel Mary E to go to sea in an unseaworthy and dangerous condition, with a crew unfit for navigation, unfit for service and intended purpose ”, according to their court documents.

In the museum’s court record, the organization says the historic schooner “suffered an overturn,” meaning the boat tipped onto its side to the point where its masts were level or underwater. Spiridakis said the museum is still awaiting the results of the Coast Guard’s investigation into the causes of the capsizing.

The Coast Guard did not return requests for comment on the completion of that investigation.

The museum also claimed that the Mary E was worth $ 150,000 after the incident, according to the museum’s complaint.

Allison and Thomas Poirier, however, asserted that “the proposed valuation of the vessel underestimates its value and that the court should order (the Maine Maritime Museum) to have a fair, adequate and prompt appraisal of the value of the vessel at time of the accident. “, According to court documents.

The Mary E was built by Thomas Hagan in 1906 at a Houghton shipyard, where the Bath Iron Works is now located. For 38 years, the two-masted schooner operated as a fishing and trading vessel before being sold in 1944 to become a trawler.

The ship was abandoned in 1960 and sank three years later in Lynn Harbor, Massachusetts, after a hurricane.

In 1965, William Donnell of Bath bought the schooner for $ 200 after seeing an advertisement in a commercial fishing magazine. Donnell brought the ship home for restoration where it was used as a passenger schooner in Maine’s Windjammer fleet before being sold to the Maine Maritime Museum in 2017 for $ 140,000.


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