Baltimore Business Files First Class Action Lawsuit Over Economic Disruption from Bridge Collapse

key bridge collapse class action lawsuit

Baltimore Businesses in Dire Straits After Bridge Collapse, First Class Action Lawsuit Filed

The already-rough waters for Baltimore businesses got a whole lot stormier after the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed in March. Now, a local couple is leading the charge to get some answers – and compensation – for the economic devastation left in the wake of the disaster.

Karen and Charles Austin, the husband-and-wife team behind American Publishing, just filed the first class action lawsuit against the shipping companies they believe are to blame: Grace Ocean Private, the owner of the cargo ship Dali, and Synergy Marine Group, who operated the vessel.

A family business on the brink

The Austins aren't some corporate giants – they're a family business built on Karen's unique background. A former counter-terrorism equipment specialist and daughter of a decorated Navy vet, Karen used her expertise to launch the United States Cybersecurity Magazine back in 2013. They also publish the Armed Forces Directory, a vital resource for military personnel stationed near the bridge.

Before the bridge collapse, business was booming. They were expanding distribution and raking in advertising revenue from local companies. But since the disaster, it's been a different story. Their income has plummeted by a staggering 84%.

A city feeling the pinch

The Austins aren't alone. The proposed class action lawsuit paints a grim picture of Baltimore's economic outlook. With the bridge out of commission, transporting goods and reaching customers has become a logistical nightmare. Many businesses, like the Austins, have seen a dramatic drop in revenue, and the city's overall economic recovery is expected to take years.

The business interruption lawsuit accuses the shipping companies of "gross negligence" for letting the Dali leave port with known power supply issues. The Austins believe these problems directly led to the bridge collapse and the economic chaos that followed. They're also challenging the companies' attempt to limit potential damages to a measly $43.6 million, arguing the "unseaworthy" condition of the Dali warrants a much steeper price tag.

The Austins are seeking to represent a class of business owners, individuals, and other entities who have sustained a loss as a result of destruction of the Key Bridge.

This lawsuit is just the first ripple in what could become a wave of legal action from Baltimore businesses struggling to stay afloat. The outcome of this case could set a precedent and determine whether these companies will be held accountable for the economic devastation they allegedly caused.

One thing's for sure – the fight for Baltimore's economic recovery is just beginning.

The Key Bridge collapse economic disruption class action lawsuit is Austin v. Grace Ocean Private Limited et al, Case No. 1:24-cv-00941-JKB in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Northern Division.



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