Seven years after the tour boat Ethan Allen overturned in the Adirondacks, drowning 20 passengers, New York’s top court is considering whether state inspectors are immune from liability for annually recertifying its 48-passenger capacity. Federal investigators said afterward it should have been limited to 14.
The 40-foot boat tipped in clear, sunny weather, sending 47 tourists and its captain into Lake George.
The passenger limit remained fixed at 48 since 1979, based on a prior Coast Guard inspection, though its canvas canopy was replaced with wood in 1989.
The National Transportation Safety Board said “insufficient stability” was the probable accident cause, partly from the passenger load.
Lower courts have refused to dismiss the suit and grant the state defense of sovereign immunity.
The Court of Appeals will hear the case today.
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