San Francisco’s Dungeness crabbers won final approval for a $6.2 million legal settlement over gear they lost when a massive four-alarm fire swept a shed on Pier 45 in 2020.

The settlement was reached in late 2022 between about 30 fishermen, the city and county of San Francisco, Allied Universal Security, and Treeline Security. San Francisco officials signed off on the deal May 19, said the fishermen’s lawyer attorney Stuart Gross of Gross Klein PC.

Port officials leased space in Shed C to the fishermen, but failed to maintain fire protections and an aging electrical system inside the 85,000-square-foot facility, the fishermen's lawsuit alleged.

Port officials and their security contractors also failed to keep homeless people out of the structure where they sometimes using fires for cooking, the fishermen complained. Flammable materials including “volatile fuels and piles of wooden pallets and garbage that the Port failed to clear” contributed to the danger, according to Gross.

 “It’s great to finally get this approved and get money in guys’ pockets. Fishermen have had a very rough year,” John Barnett, one of the plaintiffs and president of the San Francisco Crab Boat Owners Association, said in a prepared statement. “The crab season was shortened on both ends, and we were paid some of the lowest prices in recent memory. And then the salmon season was canceled.

 “Many guys still haven’t recovered from the losses they suffered in the fire. This settlement is really needed.”

“Many of us lost thousands of dollars’ worth of gear in the fire, and we don’t have a pot of savings that can be dipped into when something like this happens,” said crabber John Mellor. “This settlement, for a lot of us, is the difference between making it and not making it.”

The concrete pier is home to maritime businesses along with tourist attractions, including the Jeremiah O’Brien, a restored World War II Liberty ship, that was saved by San Francisco firefighters and their fire boat.


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