John Cota Suing Coast Guard Over License

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February 12, 2013

Damage to the Cosco Busan after the allision with San Francisco’s Bay Bridge. 53,000 gallons of oil spilled into the Bay as a result of the November 2007 accident.

John Cota, the infamous San Francisco bar pilot who crashed the Cosco Busan into the Bay Bridge in 2007, is suing the U.S. Coast Guard to get his license back.

In the lawsuit, which is cited in a report by the San Francisco Chronicle, John Cota and his legal team claim that in 2008 the Coast Guard tricked him into surrendering his credentials in a “sham” voluntary agreement, then found bogus reasons not to renew them.

The NTSB final report on the 2007 allision found that John Cota had “degraded cognitive performance from his use of impairing prescription medications”, among other contributing causes, but also mentioned a the U.S. Coast Guard’s failure to “provide adequate medical oversight of the pilot in view of the medical and medication information that the pilot had reported to the Coast Guard” as a contributing factor. Cota was eventually sentenced to 10 months in prison after pleading guilty to two misdemeanor charges of illegally discharging oil in the bay and killing thousands of birds.

In February 2012, the U.S. Coast Guard denied Cota’s appeal to regain his credentials, citing that Cota “did not meet the medical standards and the professional qualifications requirements for renewal” and another kernel of information; his criminal record from his conviction in the Cosco Busan spill.

Cota and his team of lawyers, on the other hand, thought differently and in May 2012 were quietly working through the Coast Guard appeals process and considering ‘all options’ that would allow him to sail commercially again, including a lawsuit.

The lawsuit was filed in Oakland on Friday, according to the SF Chronicle report.

San Francisco Chronicle Report: Cosco Busan pilot sues to return to bay

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