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Judge sets damage claim deadline in sunken cargo ship case

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Life ring recovered from the missing El Faro cargo ship. Ring recovered on Saturday.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A federal judge has set a deadline for damage claims filed by relatives of crewmembers who were lost aboard a cargo ship that sank last month in Hurricane Joaquin.

U.S. District Court Judge Harvey Schlesinger on Wednesday set Dec. 21 as the deadline after the vessel’s owner requested limited liability in the case.

Tote Maritime, the ship’s owner, is also seeking to cap damages at about $15 million.

The vessel El Faro sank Oct. 1 after losing engine power and getting caught in Hurricane Joaquin while sailing from Jacksonville to San Juan, Puerto Rico.

At least six lawsuits have been filed by crewmembers’ families seeking millions in damages.

Kurt Arnold, an attorney representing two of the crewmembers’ families, said they will challenge Tote’s limited liability claims.