The owners of the dive boat where 34 people perished in a fire off Southern California filed a lawsuit Thursday to head off potentially costly litigation, a move condemned by some observers as disrespectful to the families of the dead.LitigationLiabilityExcess & Surplus Lines
Truth Aquatics Inc., which owned the Conception, filed the action in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles under a pre-Civil War provision of maritime law that allows it to limit its liability.
Investigators are still searching for what caused the blaze that wrecked the boat, which remains upside down at the bottom of the sea near the Channel Islands.
The time-tested legal maneuver has been successfully employed by owners of the Titanic and countless other crafts some as small as Jet Skis and was widely anticipated by maritime law experts.
Still, the fact it was filed just three days after the deadly inferno Monday came as a surprise to legal observers.