A British Columbia judge says the families of two people killed when a ferry sank in northern B.C. can't sue for punitive damages.

Gerald Foisy and Shirley Rosette were declared dead following the sinking of the Queen of the North in 2006.

Their families have since launched a wrongful death lawsuit against B.C. Ferries and some of the staff on board the ship that night.

As part of the suit, the families are asking for general, punitive and aggravated damages.

But the B.C. Supreme Court judge hearing the matter says that under the marine law governing the case, only general damages are allowed.

The trial is set to begin in February 2009.