Color painting of the R.M.S. Titanic at sea.
Can't Collect
Aftermath and Inquiry

"owners not liable" article


Los Angeles Times, April 17, 1912

Can't Collect For Lives Lost

Titanic Owners Not Liable For Deaths on Sea.

If Precedent is Followed Company Will Probably Settle for Property Loss Without Dispute, but Admiralty Lawyer Says It Cannot Be Held Further

Chicago, APRIL 16-[Exclusive Dispatch.] Relatives of the 1232 passengers who lost their lives in the wreck of the Titanic will be unable to collect a single dollar in damages according to Charles E. Greenfield of Kremer and Greenfield, admiralty attorneys, with offices in the Fort Dearborn building.

If the White Star line follows precedent it will settle without legal dispute for the loss of property, but as this was insured the company will lose nothing on that score.

"There is no law which fixes liability for loss of life on the high seas," said Attorney Greenfield today. "About ten years ago several suits were filed in the Federal court here, but they were dismissed because of the lack of any statute fixing liability.

"Suits for loss of property very seldom follow disasters of this kind. The steamship companies are usually covered by insurance, and in the past nil have generally settled without going to court."

Mr. Greenfield added that some States and nations have laws fixing liability for loss of life in wrecks, but they are not applicable to the high seas. The Titanic was on the "high seas" at the time it foundered.

It is estimated that the passengers on the Titanic carried in money, bonds, jewelry, and other securities approximately $6,000,000.