Sommers Schwartz attorneys Arvin Pearlman and Ben Wilensky secured a $345,000 settlement for a man who suffered leg and spine injuries as a passenger on a boat owned and operated by the defendants.
According to the allegations, the plaintiff, then 79-years-old, was a guest on the defendants’ 24.5-foot boat to participate in a fishing tournament. As the day progressed, the weather deteriorated to where the defendant captain considered it too hazardous and decided to return to shore.
As they neared the port, they received a radio call from another vessel whose passengers (also participating in the tournament) reported that their boat’s engines had stopped working, and they needed assistance. The defendants, although unclear as to the location of the other vessel, believed an unwritten rule required fishing club members to assist one another in such situations. The defendants learned that the boat was six to seven miles away, near where they had been fishing.
Although neither defendant had experience rescuing another boat and that a nearby Coast Guard station was capable of the rescue, they answered the radio call. Eventually, they reached the other vessel. The plaintiff and the defendant captain were at the rear of the boat and made several attempts to receive a rope from the other boat’s passengers. On one attempt, the defendant captain was not braced, and at that point, a wave hit the ship. The captain lost his balance and crashed into the plaintiff’s leg.
Back on shore later that evening, the plaintiff was diagnosed with a left tibial plateau fracture. He underwent open reduction and internal fixation surgery to repair the fracture, followed by six months of physical therapy, but later required a right hip replacement and spinal fusion surgery.
The lawsuit claimed that the defendants were negligent in failing to check the weather before leaving port, failed to return to shore when the waters became too hazardous to navigate, attempting the rescue of another boat without any experience, and failing to exercise necessary care during the attempted rescue.