French court rejects claim over 1994 ferry disaster

A Paris court is set to adjudicate on a compensation claim related to the 1994 sinking of an Estonian ferry, which remains one Europe's deadliest maritime disasters

PARIS -- A Paris court rejected a compensation claim Friday related to the 1994 sinking of an Estonian ferry, which remains one of Europe's deadliest maritime disasters.

The court ruled on the claim from more than 1,000 survivors and relatives of victims. They sought 40.8 million euros ($46 million) from the French agency Bureau Veritas that deemed the ship seaworthy and the German shipbuilder Meyer-Werft.

But the court in the western suburb of Nanterre said threw it out citing a lack of "intentional fault" attributable to either company.

An investigation that concluded in 1997 found that the locks on the ferry's front, the prow door, had not held up to the strain of the waves, causing water to flood the car deck.

The case has been making its way through French courts since 1996, and has been retried on appeal twice.

The Estonia car ferry, connecting Tallinn and Stockholm, sank Sept. 28, 1994 killing 852 people.

It is the second-deadliest peacetime sinking of a European ship after the Titanic.