New York City Ferry Operator Ordered to Release Pilot Document

The operator of a ferry that crashed into a lower Manhattan pier must release a separation agreement it reached with the boat’s captain, a federal judge ruled this week.

The decision issued Monday by U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Falk comes in the ongoing legal action against Seastreak LLC. More than 80 people were injured, one seriously, in the Jan. 9 accident.

Attorneys for dozens of plaintiffs claim the separation agreement is relevant because captain Jason Reimer was barred by the company from piloting any ships after the accident. He then left the company shortly after a federal report on the accident was issued in April.

Attorneys for Seastreak had argued that the plaintiffs hadn’t met the legal standard for demonstrating that the document was relevant.

Under Falk’s order, the agreement will be stamped as confidential and for attorneys’ viewing only. But he stopped short of ordering the document sealed.

The National Transportation Safety Board report blamed Reimer for leaving the vessel running on a rarely used backup system that left him unable to control it as it approached the pier. The report also faulted Seastreak for “ineffective oversight” and said Reimer was hampered by a lack of training and a lack of use and familiarity with the backup system.

An attorney for Seastreak did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment Wednesday. The company has already paid out more than $1 million in settlements to dozens of people who suffered injuries in the accident.