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ARTICLE ID 31352

- PRODUCTS LIABILITY CLAIMSASSERTED AGAINST BOSTON WHALER AND YAMAHA FOLLOWING BOATING ACCIDENT RESULTING IN SEVERE INJURIES TO PLAINTIFF PASSENGER - NEGLIGENCE ALLEGED AGAINST CO-DEFENDANT OPERATOR EMPLOYER OF BOSTON WHALER - BOSTON WHALER AND OPERATOR SETTLE DURING JURY DELIBERATIONS FOR A TOTAL OF $________ - JURY EXONERATES YAMAHA DEFENDANTS.

Suffolk County, Mass.

This products liability/negligence action arose out of a boating accident involving a Boston Whaler fishing boat operated by a Boston Whaler employee. The Boston Whaler overturned after the operator lost control upon impact with a wave. The plaintiff, one of three passengers, suffered the traumatic amputation of both legs upon contacting the Yamaha engine propeller blades. The plaintiff brought suit against several parties: the defendant manufacturer of the boat, Boston Whaler; the operator of the boat, an employee of Boston Whaler; the defendant manufacturer of the engine and the throttle system, Yamaha; and the Yamaha distributor.

At the time of the subject accident, four men, including the defendant operator and the plaintiff passenger, were riding in the 18 foot Boston Whaler. The defendant operator lost control of the boat after the boat struck a wave at an angle and the boat overturned, throwing the four men into the water. As the plaintiff surfaced, the boat’s engine was situated directly above him. The plaintiff contacted the moving propeller blades, resulting in the traumatic amputation of both legs. The plaintiff subsequently underwent surgical repair of the legs, but the severed limbs could not be reattached.

As against the defendant Boston Whaler, the plaintiff’s naval architect/engineer testified that the subject boat was defectively designed and unseaworthy in that it was prone to overturn and, hence, unstable due to the fact that the sides of the boat were of insufficient height. As against the defendant Yamaha, the plaintiff’s expert testified that the Yamaha engine and control system were defectively designed in several respects: the engine failed to incorporate a propeller guard to prevent contact with the moving blade from the water; the throttle did not automatically return to neutral when the operator’s hand left the control; and the boat was not equipped with a speedometer.

The plaintiff’s expert engineer additionally maintained that Yamaha provided inadequate warning labels on the engine and the control system necessary to alert the operator and passengers of the dangers of contacting the moving propeller blades. As against the defendant operator, the plaintiff alleged excessive speed and lack of due care in the operation of the boat.

The defendants’ expert naval architect/engineer maintained that the design of the boat, the engine and the engine control system was adequate and conformed to the applicable safety standards.

The defendant Yamaha contended that the defendant operator was traveling at an excessive rate of speed and failed to exercise due care. The defense theorized that the boat was caused to overturn when it struck a wave at a particular angle while traveling at a high rate of speed.

The medical evidence indicated that the plaintiff underwent life- saving surgery following the accident, during which an attempt to reattach his legs was made. The plaintiff was eventually fitted with prostheses on both legs which will require periodic replacement. At the time of the accident, the plaintiff was a successful printing executive. The plaintiff claimed total disability as a result of the accident. The plaintiff’s economist calculated future special damages, including lost earning capacity and future medicals, in the amount of $________. The plaintiff incurred medical expenses to date of $________. During jury deliberations, the plaintiff settled with the defendant Boston Whaler and the defendant operator for a lump sum amount of $________. The jury was made aware that there was a settlement of the claims asserted against the operator and Boston Whaler, but was not told of the amount of the settlement. The jury exonerated the Yamaha defendants.

Plaintiff’s expert naval architect and engineer: Arthur Reed from Texas. Plaintiff’s engineering expert testifying on warnings: Igor Paul from Boston. Defendant’s expert naval architect and engineer: Donald Blount from Norfolk, Va. Robert E. McGrath vs.

Yamaha Motor Corp. Case no. 89/________; Judge White, 5-17-91.

Attorney for Yamaha defendants: John B. Connarton, Jr. of Boston.

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