Lawsuit alleges ‘unseaworthy conditions’ aboard sunken fishing boat

The Misty Blue, taken in October. Photo courtesy of Tammy Roberts.

FAIRHAVEN, Mass. (WPRI) — A lawsuit filed less than a month ago alleges the now-sunken fishing vessel “Misty Blue” was not seaworthy.

The U.S. Coast Guard on Tuesday night suspended the search for the boat and two of its crew members, who have been missing since the vessel went down off the coast of Nantucket Monday night.

The Coast Guard said it covered about 1,600 square miles before calling off the search for 49-year-old Michael Roberts and 32-year-old Jonathan Saraiva.

Roberts’ wife Tammy said she doesn’t know what to do now.

“It’s a possibility he’s on the vessel,” she told Eyewitness News on Wednesday.

Tammy was going off what the Coast Guard and the Misty Blue’s captain have said.

“They took a violent wave,” she said. “The boat violently rolled, and he said the galley filled.”

Captain Eric Arabian said he last saw Roberts putting on life-saving gear. Arabian, 44, and crewman Colby McMullen, 22, were rescued by a good Samaritan and returned to shore.

According to court documents, a $1.5-million civil lawsuit was brought by a Fairhaven fisherman who claims that he was seriously injured in September due to the captain and crew’s negligence and unseaworthy conditions aboard the Misty Blue.

“A defect can be something as simple as a patch of oil on the deck that somebody slips on, that was put there by someone other than the person who slipped on it. That’s an unseaworthy condition,” said the fisherman’s attorney Joe Abromovitz.

Abromovitz said the condition alleged in the lawsuit does not go to the boat’s overall seaworthiness and why it went down this week.

The suit is against both the Misty Blue and its New Jersey-based owner, Sea Harvest, Inc. It was brought on Nov. 8 in U.S. District Court in South Boston.

Court records indicate that a judge has been assigned to the case and summons have been issued.

Tammy Roberts said previous trips on the Misty Blue involving her husband had issues.

“This was the fifth trip they were trying,” she said. “The last four times they’ve gone out they had to come straight back [because of] pump issues and issues with a door. It’s been about a month…the boat keeps breaking down so they’ve been in and out.”

Chad Brayton, the vessel manager for Atlantic Capes Fisheries, denied any prior issues with the Misty Blue when asked directly.

Massachusetts State Police, using sonar, located a large object believed to be the Misty Blue. Officials say they expect divers to return to the site on Thursday when weather conditions are more favorable.

In the meantime, Tammy Roberts says even the easiest of daily tasks are excruciating.

“I’m lost,” she said. “I keep waiting for him to walk through the door. I keep waiting for a call. It’s surreal.”