Boat manufacturer settles lawsuits filed after fatal 2009 accident

It was a scene worthy of a nightmare: a boat containing 14 people crashed into a tugboat on Easter two years ago. Several people were thrown from the boat. Five of them died and nine others were injured.

Now, the manufacturer of the 22-foot Crownline 225BR has settled lawsuits filed by three of the surviving victims and representatives of two of the deceased in federal court shortly following the boat accident.

The incident occurred in the Intracoastal Waterway north of a bridge in Palm Valley. The driver of the boat was later found to be sober but was considered inexperienced in the operation of boats. She apparently crashed into the moored tugboat after her view was obstructed by several of the passengers, who were on the boat’s bow. Several of the victims were thrown into the tugboat upon being ejected.

According to sources, one of the plaintiffs argued the boat manufacturer advertised it as being safe to transport 12 people. In order to do that, however, five passengers would have to be riding in front. That means they would be directly in front of the driver, on the opposite side of the wind screen. That’s considered unsafe in the maritime world. The lawsuits stated the design of the boat was inherently unsafe.

The settlements were reached last week after the plaintiffs’ attorneys met with a mediator. They had an additional ten days after that to file settlement agreements with the court. Terms of the settlements were reportedly kept confidential, and none of the parties’ attorneys commented on the agreements.

Source: www.jacksonville.com, “Lawsuits settle in fatal Palm Valley boat crash; terms confidential,” Paul Pinkham, 2 May 2011