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Ship owner sues pharmacists in 2007 San Francisco Bay spill

SAN FRANCISCO — The owners and operators of a container ship that slammed into the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge in 2007 and spilled thousands of gallons of oil into San Francisco Bay have sued the Northern California pharmacists they claim negligently dispensed prescription drugs to the pilot of the Cosco Busan.

The ship's owner, Regal Stone Ltd., and operator Fleet Management Ltd. Alleged in court papers filed in San Francisco Superior Court Friday that the pills "recklessly" provided by pharmacists at a Longs drug store in Petaluma had so clouded pilot John Cota's judgment and dulled his reflexes that they led to the crash.

The container ship spilled more than 50,000 gallons of oil into the bay after it collided with a bridge tower. The fuel traveled to beaches north and south of San Francisco, and biologists have blamed the spill for the deaths of more than 2,400 birds.

Michael DeAngelis, a spokesman for Rhode Island-based CVS Caremark, which owns Longs, said Wednesday that the company thinks Longs has no liability in the accident and plans to fight the lawsuit.

Last year, Regal Stone and Fleet Management agreed to pay $4.4 million in damages to federal, state and local agencies and another $3.6 million to 120 members of the Bay Area fishing community, the San Francisco Chronicle (http://bit.ly/Jpwxp3 ) reported. Fleet Management also was fined $10 million after the company pleaded guilty to polluting and filing false documents.


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