1. News

Company wants to limit damages in casino boat fire to $27,300 — total

When a shuttle carrying patrons to a casino ship caught fire off the coast of Pasco County on Jan. 14, about 50 people had to jump overboard. [Courtesy of Pasco County Sheriff's Office]
When a shuttle carrying patrons to a casino ship caught fire off the coast of Pasco County on Jan. 14, about 50 people had to jump overboard. [Courtesy of Pasco County Sheriff's Office]
Published Feb. 2, 2018

The legal maneuvering in last month's boat fire has begun: Tropical Breeze Casino Cruz, which owns the boat that caught fire and forced 50 people to abandon ship off the coast of Pasco County on Jan. 14, asked a federal court to limit its liability for "personal injury and death claims" to a total of $27,300.

That's not $27,300 per person. That's a total of $27,300 for all 50 people who jumped off the burning vessel — including the family of the woman who died hours afterward.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Mother of two, 42, identified as casualty after Port Richey boat fire

A U.S. district judge granted the petition on Jan. 31. Federal maritime rules allow the company to make such an attempt, but that doesn't necessarily mean any future payout will be limited to $27,300.

However, it does affect future litigation in two ways:

First, it pauses any civil lawsuits filed in state court — for now. That includes the suit filed by Holiday resident Deborah Jero, 65, alleging that Tropical Breeze's negligence resulted in serious injuries and mental trauma.

Second, it starts the clock running for anyone who wants to sue, collect damages or receive a settlement. They now have until March 23 to file their claims.

Tropical Breeze's latest filing, like everything else in this incident, will be the subject of future litigation. But Pinellas Park attorney Frank Butler, who is representing Jero, said Tropical Breeze didn't have to go this route.

"We don't question their right to do this," he said, "but if you care about your customers, your passengers, why are they doing this?"


Casino shuttle boat destroyed by fire as 50 passengers abandon ship in frigid Gulf

Mother of two, 42, identified as casualty after Port Richey boat fire

Casino boat operator in fatal fire had maintenance, safety issues before earlier blaze

Here's the backstory of the Pasco casino boat operator whose ship caught on fire

He still has nightmares: Deckhand recalls prior casino boat fire


  1. Sydney Holton, left, and her friend Jordan Lewis yell for beads along the Gasparilla parade route on Saturday. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    A week and a half after the boulevard’s latest high-profile traffic death, pedestrians got the whole road to themselves.
  2. The crash happened near St. Pete–Clearwater International Airport around 5:30 a.m. Saturday.
  3. Search is on for suspect, as police continue crash investigation and seek information.
  4. Check for the latest breaking news and updates. [Times]
    Eleven birds were seized from the property, all with injuries and other signs of fighting.
  5. FILE - In this Dec. 20, 2019 file photo, Defense Secretary Mark Esper speaks during a news conference at the Pentagon in Washington. After the Pensacola shooting, Defense Secretary Mark Esper ordered a review of the Pentagon's handling of foreign military trainees. The results, announced Friday, put foreign trainees under new limitations, including their travel away from their assigned base; their possession and use of firearms and their access to bases and other U.S. facilities.  (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) [SUSAN WALSH  |  AP]
    International trainees will no longer be allowed to have privately owned firearms on base, among other changes.
  6. Ralph Wald and his wife, Johnna Flores, leave the Orient Road Jail on May 30, 2013, after Wald was acquitted in the fatal shooting of her lover. [[TIMES (2013)]  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Ralph Wald shot and killed his wife’s lover in their home in 2013, but a jury found him not guilty. Now he’s charged with manslaughter in the September death of a woman in his home.
  7. Check for the latest breaking news and updates. [Times]
    Crash took place just before 1 a.m., troopers said. Deceased hasn’t yet been identified.
  8. A photo of the 2016 Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade in Clearwater. Members of St. John M.B. Church march south on N. Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue moments after the conclusion of the city's 32nd Annual Leadership Breakfast Program at the North Greenwood Aquatic Center. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    The annual march will not end at Coachman Park this year. Here’s the new route.
  9. From left, Don Haddad, Peter Licata and Addison Davis, all finalists for the job of Hillsborough County school superintendent, met Thursday with community members at Rampello K-8 School. The School Board will choose among the three on Tuesday. [MARLENE SOKOL  |  Times]
    Addison Davis, Don Haddad and Peter Licata outline their plans for the first 90 days.
  10. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is seeking for information about a man accused of killing a duck at a Town 'N Country apartment complex in Tampa. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922. [Bay News 9]
    He used bread to lure the bird in before killing it. A complaint was filed with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.