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

After filing their second complaint with the U.S. District Court in Portland last March, Maine Maritime Museum in Bath was denied protection from future lawsuits stemming from the capsize of the schooner Mary E, the court ruled this week.

The 73-foot vessel, built in 1906, capsized with 15 charter guests and three staff members on board last July 30 near Doubling Point Lighthouse in Arrowsic.

All passengers were rescued by Bath Iron Works security, boat towing service Sea Tow and Bath police.

Court documents released Monday stated Maine Maritime Museum claimed they had used “due diligence to make the subject vessel seaworthy” and said the vessel was “safe and properly equipped and supplied,” for the services it was engaged in.

Despite the museum’s claims of the vessel being ready to sail, Judge Nancy Torresen said in a court document that the museum never described how the “knock-down” occurred, how the vessel was staffed, or if there were unexpected weather conditions to be considered.

After the museum’s first complaint to the court, setting a Nov. 15 deadline for passengers seeking damages to file a lawsuit, three schooner patrons followed suit.

Karen Baldwin, Allison Poirier and Thomas Poirier all filed claims against the museum, which were settled and dismissed last November.


Allison Poirier claimed to have suffered a fracture in her left foot and psychological injuries from the capsize.

The court document did not reveal how much the museum paid in damages to each individual.

Torresen said the museum’s argument lacked supportive evidence for their claim.

“Without more information, I am unable to conclude that Maine Maritime Museum is completely without fault. I cannot conclude that the plaintiff is entitled to exoneration,” Torresen wrote in her ruling.

The judge also noted in the court document that Maine Maritime Museum settling with three claimants in November suggests “there may indeed have been some degree of fault that would make an order of exoneration inappropriate.”

Maine Maritime Museum Marketing Communications Manager Amanda Pleau said they are hopeful for a better resolution in the future and that the Mary E won’t sail again until it is deemed safe.

“We are disappointed to hear that the legal proceedings have been delayed in this way, but we look forward to the possibility of a final resolution soon,” said Pleau. “Mary E is currently dockside at the museum this summer while we await the results of the Coast Guard’s investigation. It’s of utmost importance that for the safety of our guests, staff and volunteers, that we go above and beyond to make the vessel as safe as possible. And during this time, we will not be welcoming guests aboard or interpreting the vessel beyond dockside signage.”

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