The Mary E, a schooner built in Bath in 1906, lies on its side as crews work to stabilize the vessel and get all the passengers off safely. Photo courtesy of Paul Kalkstein

Two more passengers who were aboard the Mary E when it capsized in July have filed lawsuits against the Maine Maritime Museum, claiming the museum is liable for injuries they sustained in the incident.

Allison and Thomas Poirier allege the Mary E was “unfit for its intended voyage, in ill repair, unsafe and unseaworthy, in poor maintenance, and was at a foreseeable risk of capsizing and sinking,” according to separate court documents filed in U.S. District Court in Portland on Nov. 12.

The action comes after another passenger filed suit against the museum in October.

The Poiriers state the vessel was not seaworthy and the schooner’s captain and crew were “unfit, incompetent, ill experienced, ill trained, undermanned, thereby rendering the vessel unsafe and unseaworthy, and thereby creating a reasonably foreseeable risk of the vessel capsizing and sinking.” As a result, the Poiriers state, their injuries were caused “solely through the negligence, carelessness, recklessness, dereliction, fault, neglect or want of care” of the museum and its employees.

On July 30, the Mary E capsized while on a cruise with 15 passengers and three crew members on board. The 73-foot schooner capsized in the Kennebec River around 5:30 p.m. near Doubling Point Lighthouse in Arrowsic, according to Bath Chief of Police Andrew Booth.

All passengers were rescued by Bath Iron Works security, Sea Tow and Bath Police. Two people were taken to Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick, Coast Guard Lt. James McDonough said.

Allison Poirier claims to have “sustained severe injuries including, but not limited to a left foot fracture and psychological injuries,” during the capsize.

Both Allison and Thomas Poirier allegedly experienced “pain, anxiety, shock, and physical, mental and emotional suffering, and continues to do so to date” because of the incident, their court documents read.

According to the court documents, both passengers are seeking damages for “conscious pain and suffering,” emotional and psychological stress, medical bills and “other pecuniary [financial] losses as discovery may reveal.”

The Poiriers are represented by Attorneys Stephen Koerting of Kelly, Remmel and Zimmerman and Timothy Schweitzer of Hofmann and Schweitzer. Neither Koerting nor Schweitzer immediately returned requests for comment Monday regarding what the Poiriers are seeking in compensation.

Maine Maritime Museum Spokesperson Katie Spiridakis declined to comment on the Poiriers’ suits but stated: “The safety of the passengers on the Mary E, as well as all of our museum guests, is of utmost importance.”

Allison and Thomas Poiriers’ claims come less than a month after another Mary E passenger, Karen Baldwin, filed a similar lawsuit against the museum in October. In her suit, Baldwin alleges the museum is liable for her injuries because the Mary E was unseaworthy and the vessel’s crew were ill-trained, among other allegations.

Baldwin’s suit was the first filed against the museum following the capsize. The museum denied allegations last week that it is at fault for the schooner’s capsizing and injuries Baldwin claimed to have suffered in the incident.

The three suits also reject a complaint the museum previously filed in U.S. District Court in Portland in an effort to avoid any potential liability related to the incident.

According to court documents filed Aug. 20, the Bath museum claimed it is not responsible for any “loss, damage, injury and destruction” sustained during the capsize because it “used due diligence to make the subject vessel seaworthy and safe” before and during the July 30 cruise.

Allison and Thomas Poirier argue the Mary E’s capsize happened because of the museum’s “negligent, willful, callous, and reckless conduct in allowing the vessel Mary E to get underway in an unseaworthy and unsafe condition, with an unseaworthy crew, unfit for duty and for the intended purpose,” according to their court documents.

In the museum’s court filing, the organization states the historic schooner “sustained a knock-down,” meaning the boat tipped sideways to the point where its masts were at or below the water. Spiridakis said the museum is still waiting on the results of the Coast Guard’s investigation of what caused the capsize.

The Coast Guard didn’t return requests for comment on whether that investigation has been completed.

The museum also claimed the Mary E has a $150,000 post-incident value, according to the museum’s complaint.

Allison and Thomas Poirier, however, claimed the “proposed valuation of the vessel understates its value and the court should order (the Maine Maritime Museum) to have a fair and adequate and prompt appraisal of the value of the vessel at the time of the accident,” according to court filings.

The Mary E was built by Thomas Hagan in 1906 at a Houghton shipyard, where Bath Iron Works now stands. For 38 years the two-masted schooner operated as a fishing and trade vessel before it was sold in 1944 to become a dragger.

The ship was abandoned in 1960 and sank three years later in Lynn Harbor, Massachusetts, after a hurricane.

In 1965, William Donnell of Bath bought the schooner for $200 after seeing an advertisement in a commercial fishing magazine. Donnell brought the vessel home for restoration where it was used as a passenger schooner in the Maine Windjammer Fleet before being sold to the Maine Maritime Museum in 2017 for $140,000.

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