New York's top court on Thursday rejected damages claims against state inspectors who continually recertified a tour boat for 48-passenger capacity before it overturned on an Adirondack lake in 2005, drowning 20 people on a fall foliage tour.
The Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that the state generally isn't liable for "the negligent performance" of government functions unless it has some "special duty" to those hurt.
Federal investigators afterward said the 40-foot Ethan Allen should have been limited to 14 passengers. The boat tipped over in clear, sunny weather, sending 47 tourists and the captain into Lake George. The National Transportation Safety Board concluded that "insufficient stability," partly from the passenger load, was the probable cause of the accident.