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$200 Million Verdict To Family Of Boy Who Died In Boating Accident


Boating accidents are common in Florida. They happen all the time. What is rare is that a boat manufacturer would be sued for wrongful death involving a passenger. The vast majority of boating accidents are filed against negligent or drunk boat operators. However, these lawsuits do not result in $200 million verdicts. In this article, we’ll discuss the suit against the boat manufacturer and the allegations involved in the $200 million verdict.

The lawsuit 

The family was on a 2000 Malibu Response LX when the bow of the vessel filled with water and swept the 7-year-old child off the vessel. He was then struck by the boat’s propeller and suffered fatal injuries. According to the lawsuit, the boat was tested by Malibu employees who also experienced similar swamping of the vessel. However, the company never warned customers about a potentially threatening defect or made any effort to fix the defect. Instead, they sold the boat and inevitably, someone was killed.

$200 million verdicts are not awarded regularly even in wrongful death lawsuits involving children. These verdicts are reserved for companies that either broke the law in failing to recall a defective product or companies that knew about the defect beforehand and failed to report it. In this case, they never even warned customers about a potentially dangerous issue with the boat that could lead to serious injury.

Contributory and comparative negligence 

In this case, the boat’s driver was held 75% liable for the boy’s death. Malibu was only held 25% liable. However, because $120 million was punitive damages levied against the company for breaking the law, failing to warn customers, and failing to report a dangerous flaw in the boat’s design, the 75% deduction from damages only applies to compensatory damages, not punitive damages. That means the family will get 25% of their compensatory damages, but Malibu is still on the hook for 100% of the punitive damages.

The defense 

In a situation like this, the options for the civil defense team are limited. Your attorney represents your interests and their attorney represents the interests of the party being sued. Their job is to limit damages to the extent possible. Obviously, that didn’t work here, but they had very little to work with. Malibu, in this case, defended their boat’s design claiming that the plaintiffs failed to prove that their design was responsible for the swamping. However, the plaintiffs were able to provide witness testimony from employees of the company that they suffered similar problems when testing the boat.

While it may seem like a waste of time to defend this case, it isn’t when the plaintiff is seeking punitive damages. You never know what might happen in front of a jury, so when the plaintiff asks for a massive number, the civil defense team will just deny, defend, and delay.

Talk to a Port St. Lucie Personal Injury Attorney Today 

Eighmie Law Firm represents the interests of injured plaintiffs in boating accidents. Call our Port St. Lucie personal injury lawyers today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.



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