French court rejects Estonia ferry disaster damages claim

Courtroom in Nanterre prior to the announcement of the ruling on Friday. July 19, 2019.
Courtroom in Nanterre prior to the announcement of the ruling on Friday. July 19, 2019. Source: Epp Ehand/ERR

A court in a suburb of Paris on Friday rejected a claim by survivors and relatives of victims seeking damages from a French certification agency and German shipbuilder over the 1994 sinking of the ferry Estonia in the Baltic Sea.

More than 1,000 plaintiffs had asked the court in Nanterre for €40 million in damages from French certification agency Bureau Veritas and German shipbuilder Meyer Werft in connection with the disaster which killed 852 people.

According to a court statement, however, the plaintiffs were unable to prove "the existence of a gross or intentional fault attributable to the firm Bureau Veritas and/or Meyer Werft."

In accordance with Friday's ruling, the plaintiffs, or the survivors and relatives of the victims, will have to pay more than €100,000 in legal fees to the two companies.

The lawyers representing the plaintiffs have yet to comment on the ruling. It is likewise yet unclear whether and how the decision may be appealed.

On Sept. 28, 1994, the ferry Estonia sank while en route from Tallinn to Stockholm, claiming 852 lives. There were only 137 survivors.

The 1,116 survivors and relatives of the deceased had battled for two decades to have their case heard in court; the court finally moved forward with the trial in April.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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