$440,000 – Pleasure Boat Accident

Award Amount: $440,000

Location: New York, New York

Court/case #: Bronx County Supreme Court

Tried before judge or jury (or mediation) Settled after mediation

Name of judge: Mediator – Michael Marks Cohen, Esq.

Special damages: Medical bills – $107,917.38, lost earnings – approximately $166,000 present value

Amount(specify award or settlement): $440,000 settlement

Date (of verdict or settlement): June 13, 2008

Demand (required if defense verdict) N/A

Highest offer: $440,000

Most helpful expert (name, title and city): None

Insurance carrier: St. Paul/Travelers

Attorney for plaintiff(s) and city of office: David J. Berg, Esq., Latti & Anderson LLP, Boston, MA

Attorney for defendant(s) and city of office: withheld

TRIAL REPORT FORMS

Type of action: Pleasure boat accident

Injuries alleged: Fractured L3 and L5 vertebrae

Name of case: Plaintiff v. Visentin

Summary of case

This case involved a pleasure boat accident in Shinnecock Inlet on Long Island in New York in July, 2005. The parties were friends who had decided to go out for an afternoon of fishing on the defendant’s speed boat on a nice summer day after work. They had been fishing for a short while when they went through the inlet. The defendant hit a standing swell too fast and threw the plaintiff up in the air. This is a type of standing wave that customarily runs from one side of the inlet to the other. As a result of the vessel hitting the swell so hard, the plaintiff came down on his back and fractured his L3 vertebra. He was required to have surgery where a plate and screws were put into his back. One of the screws was put into his L5 vertebra, which subsequently became fractured as well. the plaintiff was a boat mechanic who has not been able to return to work since this accident.

While the defendant did not seriously contest the plaintiff’s damages, given the severity of his injuries, liability was vigorously contested. There were a number of significant defenses to the case. At the time, there was a web cam at Shinnecock Inlet that took pictures of the accident scene every 15 minutes all afternoon and evening. None of the photographs showed particularly high waves in the area of the swell, and the swell was not even seen in a few of the pictures, so the photographic evidence would have contradicted the plaintiff’s testimony at least in part. Further, because the defendant was not going particularly fast even by the plaintiff’s testimony, only about 20 MPH, the defendant took the position that the defendant’s operation of the boat simply was not negligent.

Settlement was difficult because there were a number of liens on the file. The parties had an all day mediation with an experienced mediator that got the parties close, but months of follow up negotiations were required to settle the case.