Avataq families launch lawsuit
The families of three Avataq crew members who died when the boat sank on Aug. 26, 2000, are suing the Northern Transportation Company Ltd., the government of Nunavut, the estate of Louis Pilakapsi and 12 other parties for lost wages, pain and suffering, funeral costs and other damages.
The 12-metre lobster boat Avataq, which Pilakapsi owned and operated, sank 10 nautical miles south of Arviat after being badly overloaded with steel construction materials ordered by a contractor for use in the construction of social housing units.
In a report issued last July, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada found that the Avataq had been improperly loaded, that it had never been inspected as a cargo boat, and that Pilakapsi was not qualified to operate as a master of a cargo vessel.
The complainants say Avataq Enterprises Ltd. allowed the boat to transport some 15,283 kilograms of cargo out of Churchill, Manitoba, even though the Avataq was a fishing vessel, and not licenced for cargo.
Their statement of claim, filed with the Nunavut Court of Justice on Aug. 29, alleges that the boat was not seaworthy, lacked proper safety equipment and was operated by inadequately trained people.
The statement of claim also alleges that Nunavut emergency services didn’t respond quickly enough and that “negligence” caused the deaths of the three men.
Also named in the suit are the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the Hudson Bay Port Company, the Attorney General of Canada, and two unidentified Kivalliq contracting businesses.
Statements of claim often contain unproven allegations. Statements of defence had yet to be filed as of Nunatsiaq News’ press time this week.