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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Sep. 1, 202005:10 PM EST

Lawsuit filed in June car carrier ship fire at Blount Island

The Law Firm of Pajcic & Pajcic represents 10 firefighters injured in an explosion aboard the vessel.
by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

The Law Firm of Pajcic & Pajcic filed a lawsuit Sept. 1 on behalf of 10 Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department firefighters injured in an explosion aboard the car carrier ship Höegh Xiamen while it was docked in the St. Johns River at Blount Island.

On June 4, a fire started aboard the 15-floor cargo ship. About 2,400 junked cars had been loaded for transport to West Africa. 

The ship, loaded with fuel and cars, was ready to get underway. The lawsuit alleges the ship’s crew turned off the vessel’s fire alarm system, allowing a fire to spread unabated in the cargo decks.

“It was a recipe for disaster,” law firm partner Curry Pajcic said in a news release.

According to the lawsuit filed with the 4th Circuit Court, Höegh Autoliners Shipping; Höegh Autoliners Management; Horizon Terminal Services LLC; Grimaldi Deepsea S.P.A.; and SSA Marine Inc. were negligent in failing to maintain and outfit the ship in a reasonably safe condition, as well as other failures that endangered the lives of the rescue team.

Heögh Autoliners Shipping, based in Norway, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Höegh Xiamen burned for eight days. The JFRD continuously sprayed water on the outside of the ship to maintain its integrity and prevent environmental contamination and damage to facilities at Blount Island.

Pajcic describes his clients as heroes.

“They ran into the storm, a storm created by an irresponsible company, an ill-equipped crew and dangerous cargo. The JFRD averted a major disaster to the St. Johns River and Blount Island, but the 10 firemen will forever live with the physical and emotional scars caused by the defendants’ negligence,” he said in the release.

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