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Liability of maritime pilots might be reduced

JACKSON — Mississippi lawmakers are considering whether to reduce the liability of maritime vessel pilots to $5,000.

House Bill 489 passed the House Tuesday. A similar measure, Senate Bill 2781, passed the Senate.

The two chambers will exchange bills and must agree on a single one before anything could go to the governor.

Vessel pilots guide ships weighing more than 250 tons into port. The pilots navigate through areas that can be treacherous.

The bills would limit the pilots’ liability in cases of error, omission, fault or neglect. Exceptions include cases in which the damage arises from the pilot’s willful misconduct or reckless disregard for safety.

Mississippi has 11 such pilots who would be affected by the proposed change, according to Republican Rep. Charles Busby of Pascagoula.

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