Should White Star Be Liable for Titanic Sinking


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Kayla Richards

Guest
I personaly am stuck. I was a lawyer in my mock-trial class and I won my case that white star shouldnt be liable and I agree with that answer too a point. * It said on the back of the Titanic ticket that WS would not be liable for any occurance onboard* But then who would be liable? IMM? WSL? JBruce? Captian Smith? So what do you think?
 
Dec 2, 2000
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All I can suggest is that you research the laws in existance at the time. It may very well be that nobody could be held liable...at least not in the sense that we understand it.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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In real life a British court found that the tickets did not comply with Board of Trade regulations, so the 'not liable' clause was void. The courts went on to find White Star (IMM) liable by reason of negligent navigation.

The law varied a lot between the US and Britain so the first thing is to decide whose law you are going to use. In the US it was virtually impossible to get anything like full compensation. Read something called the Harter Act and you'll see why. It's on the net.

From the little I've seen of mock trials they seem to end up arguing over how we'd like the law to have been, not what it was in 1912.
 
Apr 14, 2001
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i think that the white star line shouldnt be held responsible for the titanic tragedy because they had no idea that the sinking was going to happen and we shouldnt hold harland and wolff responsible for this either but i do believe that if there is someone to blame on this the one person thats responsible for it is bruce ismay he was the person who cared more about luxuary than saftey because as the person who designed and thought of the titanic in the first place he should have had it where there is luxuary and saftey at the same time because if he had more life boats on board more lives could have been saved jennifer mueller
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Whoa!!!!! No nuetral stance here, eh Jennifer?
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Seriously, the "luxury" really had nothing to do with it. Compared with other ships either in existance and under construction, the Olympics were a study in restrained good taste by comparison. (Which see the German Imperator and some of her near sisters. Talk about going overboard with style!)

There was no small amount of complacency at the time either. There hadn't been a serious loss of life on the transatlantic liners in nearly forty years by that time, although there had been some losses. The RMS Republic for example. The kicker there was that there was plenty of time to evacuate everybody safely from the ship befor she went down. Nobody conceived it would work any other way until the Titanic tried to play tag with an iceberg and lost!

Bruce Ismay's responsibility; Hmmmmmmmmm....there is evidence that he egged Smith on, and I wouldn't be surprised if he had some influance that was a factor. Any mariner will all too ruefully attest that owners are best left on the beach for that reason. They're notorious for sticking their noses where they don't belong!

Barring that, I suspect that had he not been aboard, the outcome might very well have been the same. The Titanic was working herself up a little faster every day which was pretty routine for the time and running with the pedal to the metal in nearly all conditions was an all pervasive practice of the time. One that ultimately had tragic consequences.

Regarding the boats; that's a big maybe. Had there been enough and everybody properly trained, I think (Very subjective opinion here) they would have fully loaded the lot. The problem was that of the twenty boats the Titanic did have, they only managed to launch 18 of them befor the ship foundered. The last two...those collapsible which were unwisely stored on the roof....ultimately ended up being floated off.

All this goes to show that while lifeboats are nice, they aren't the cure all solution we might wish they were, and in the end, the killer was bad navigation practice.

Hope this clearifies some things.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Dave Gittins

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The question is not what we'd like the law to be but what it was. Ismay could not be held liable and that's all there is to it.

For a good exposition of US law at the time, read Senator Rayner's speech to the Senate. He followed Senator Smith's speech after his report was delivered. He laments the immunity of company directors from liability for such accidents on land and sea. An interesting point is that US courts had ruled that the insurance money on a sunken ship could be retained by the owners and was not included in the salvage value of the ship when assessing the amount available to claimants under the Harter Act. As the old song says, 'It's the rich who gets the pleasure and the poor what gets the blame.'
 
Apr 14, 2001
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michael as far as blaming mr ismay for the sinking this is my own personal opinion but as far as not enough life boats on the ship there is one person who thought that there wernt enough life boats on board the titanic and his name was alexander carlisle and he was the chairman of harland and wolff and at the inquires after the sinking of the titanic and he testified that he wanted more life boats for the ship but mr ismay said no and i hope this might help straighten things up jennifer mueller
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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In fact, if you read the testimony, Carlisle said he thought there should be more boats but he didn't tell Ismay. The same man signed a report for the Board of Trade that would have allowed Titanic to carry fewer boats than she did, had it been adopted. Carlisle comes across as a rather odd character, who thought things but never expressed them.
 
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Daniel Odysseus

Guest
I know this is a little late, but...

I think that no one is responsible for the Titanic disaster. In a manner of speaking, it is the same scenario as this: you're driving your car along the road in heavy winds. You're car is old, and it doesn't have an airbag. But you're driving along, and a tree falls a 100 yards in front of you. You try to swerve, but you hit it anyway. Is that your fault? Is it the dealer's fault? Is it the designer or the manufacturer's fault? No. It's just a coincidence... Titanic's the same thing, only on a larger scale. It was just misfortune that there weren't enough lifeboats (or in my scenario, an airbag) and that the iceberg was too close to turn.

-D.O.
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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In fact, the British courts found White Star negligent in respect of speed. Other things, such as claims of inadequate lookouts, were rejected.

In the US, the matter was much complicated by the Harter Act, which severely limited damages unless the owners could be shown to have known of the crew's negligence and connived at it. It was argued loud and long and finally was settled for a compromise figure without an admission of liability.
 
Dec 7, 2000
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Daniel O,

With your case, add to it warnings, and given that and your weather, you should have been driving slowly. It's as if you were driving and listening to the radio where reports of the weather and danger were transmitted. If you still drove too fast and could not stop for a tree, or if you didn't stop somewhere due to the weather, it does become your fault that you crashed into the tree.

Daniel.
 

laura higgins

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Mar 19, 2009
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why do people still argue over things that happened nearly 100 years ago!!! If you find the answer I doubt it will change what a disater the Titanic really was, or compell lawyers to go after the grandchildren of the people who were responsible and fine them for what their great grand parents did?



let the dead rest in peace with their dignity intact
 
Dec 5, 2008
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Hello, Laura.

First off, am I correct in assuming that you are referring to ET as a whole, as there are many debates such as this throughout the website and this is your first post? I hope I am not incorrect!
happy.gif


Secondly, perhaps it is just me, but I simply do not see how ET is disrespecting the dead; if anything, I feel their memories are honoured by the vast majority of members. Even those who think that Ismay was at fault for the situation, or that the Captain did not do all he could have to prevent the loss of life are hardly saying 'I hope the b#stards are rolling in their graves!'.

And while finding an answer may not change what happened, it will help explain why, and maybe even with some good fortune help prevent the same occurrence. Certainly we're not the only ones who feel that answers for this disaster are needed - just look at the enquiries. All that work and effort would not have brought back the 1500 lives that were lost in the Atlantic, but it would help them understand the loss, and maybe even prevent it in the future. Just because time has passed does not make it any less important. In fact, I feel it is the opposite. The biggest insult to those people would be to have their memories forgotten. They died in a horrible, tragic way, many spending their last moments as absolute heroes, and they deserve to be honoured as such. Simply because one does not feel appropriate actions were taken before, during or in the aftermath of the sinking does not mean we are taking away their dignity.

William Murdoch was on the bridge when the Titanic struck. That we know. We also know that *possibly* it could have been prevented if the scenario had been different. Does saying that steal his dignity? Of course not! It is a fact, just as it is a fact that he was a brave man who did his utmost to save lives as the Titanic sank beneath his feet.

Just because you do not think fondly of something does not mean you are stealing the dead's ability to rest in peace, or leaving their dignity out of tact. I truly am sorry if you disagree and feel we here on ET are wrong, but I'm sure all the members will agree, what we say and what we do here is done with the best of intentions. We would never do anything to insult the memories of the tragic dead.

With the kindest regards,

Kat
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>why do people still argue over things that happened nearly 100 years ago!!! <<

It's all about understanding the history of the events. The loss of the Titanic is probably one of the most overdocumented shipwrecks of all time but likely as not, also one of the most seriously misunderstood. Discussing, debating, and researching goes a long way towards dropping the "Mis-" off of the "Understood."

>>If you find the answer I doubt it will change what a disater the Titanic really was, or compell lawyers to go after the grandchildren of the people who were responsible and fine them for what their great grand parents did?<<

Why would any of us want to do that? A study of history isn't the same thing as some sort of misplaced legal activism. It's about sorting out the fiction and myth from the reality, and knowing the difference.

>>let the dead rest in peace with their dignity intact<<

The dead are long past caring, but a study of the events goes a long way towards making sure the same mistakes aren't repeated.
 

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