In the world we live in today a significant number of people rely on the convenience, reliability, and safety of public transportation or also known as Common Carriers. Public transportation is necessary in cities like San Francisco, because the use of common carrier transportation is the most efficient and conservative way of transportation. We’ve all entrusted a common carrier one way or another, whether it be taking the Greyhound to visit a friend in Los Angeles or taking a ferry to see remote places such as Alcatraz. Common carriers can be an entity or person in the business of transporting people or property for hire. Because common carriers withhold the control of the safety of passengers and property through hire, under California law, common carriers are held to a higher standard of care than other transportation services. Civil Code §2100 states that common carriers "must use the utmost care and diligence for [passengers'] safe carriage, must provide everything necessary for that purpose, and must exercise to that end a reasonable degree of skill." (CC §2100 1) With that said, common carriers contain an utmost duty of care, and if that duty of care is breached, the common carrier or persons responsible may be liable for the damages caused by the breach. In the following analysis of the Sewol Ferry Disaster, the legalities of American Law will be applied to determine who is liable for the injuries and death of many in this unfortunate disaster.
The MV Sewol, originally the Ferry, was built by a Japanese company called Hayashikane Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. Ltd. The Sewol was 479 feet in length and 72 feet in width, and could carry 921 passengers maximum capacity, including the crew, of 956. The Sewol also had been documented to have a capacity for 180 or 220 cars and could carry 152 twenty-foot shipping containers. The Sewol operated in Japan from 1994 to 2012, until October 2012, when the ship was bought, refurbished, and renamed to Sewol by Cheonghaejin Marine Company based in Incheon. The refurbishment included adding extra passenger cabins on the third, fourth and fifth decks, raising the passenger capacity by 181, and also increasing the weight of the ship by 239 tons. Operations of the Incheon to Jeju route of the Sewol began on March 15, 2013, with the approval of safety checks administered by the government of South Korea and the Korean Register of Shipping. The Sewol sailed this route two to three roundtrips every week from Incheon to Jeju. It is declared that the Sewol passed the vessel safety inspection by the South Korean Coast Guard on Feburary 19, 2014, which is a requirement of Korean Register of Shipping.
On April 16th, 2014, the Sewol Ferry, en route on the usual path from Jeju from Incheon, carrying approximately 459 passengers, mostly high school students from Danwon high School, capsized on clear weather. The frequent route from Incheon to Jeju took approximately 13.5 hours. After a two and...