Appeals Court orders acquittals in 2005 barge explosion case

Written by Nick Blenkey
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DECEMBER 15, 2016 — The United States Court of Appeals sitting in Chicago on December 12 exonerated Egan Marine Corp. for a January 2005 explosion on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.

The Court ruled that Egan Marine Corp.’s previous judgment of no liability precluded any finding of criminal liability and ordered that the trial court immediately enter judgments of acquittal for both Egan Marine Corp. and the tug boat captain, Dennis Michael Egan, who was present at the time of the explosion.

“We are overjoyed ith the result from the Court of Appeals,” commented Dan Egan, principal of Egan Marine Corp. “My only sadness is that my father, Dennis Harry Egan, did not live to see this day when his company and his nephew would be exonerated from any allegation of wrongdoing.”

Dennis Harry Egan, who founded Egan Marine Corp. in 1981, died on September 30, 2016.

“But nothing can diminish our gratitude to the Court of Appeals for correcting this huge problem,” continued Dan Egan. “Justice has been served and the entire Egan Company, its friends and family and employees, are thrilled that the Court has determined that Egan Marine Corp. and Captain Dennis Michael Egan should be acquitted.”

In the opinion issued December 12 the Court of Appeals reasoned that the trial court’s 2011 determination of no fault the part of Egan Marine Corp. prevented any subsequent criminal finding. That ruling, which enforces the rule of collateral estoppel, led the Court of Appeals to reverse the 2015 convictions and instead order the entry of acquittals for both the company and the tug boat captain.

“This is great day for Egan Marine Corp. and Captain Egan,” concluded Dan Egan. “I have no doubt that my father, Dennis Harry Egan is smiling in heaven today. He was a true patriot. He always believed in justice. To day his dream came true.”

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