Case Studies – Boating
Marc S. Albert is pleased to announce the $2.9 million settlement of a wrongful death action brought on behalf of the family of a 41 year old technologist who was tragically killed in a boating accident in Greenport, long Island. The settlement is the culmination of nearly three years of litigation in which multiple obstacles were encountered and ultimately overcome, the most notable of which was the insurance carriers’ disclaimers for what they deemed to be a criminal and/or intentional act on the part of their insured in causing the subject accident.
The incident occurred when, after a night of socializing with friends in Eastern long Island, our client was invited by one of those friends onto a 30 foot Grady White vessel which he owned. Three other individuals were also invited onto the boat. Unfortunately, the owner and operator of the boat was highly intoxicated and operating the boat in an erratic manner when, without warning, the boat struck the Greenport Jetty, a 1000 foot long and 25 foot wide structure constructed of large boulders. Our client, who was seated on the bow of the boat, was propelled into the water and onto the Jetty upon impact suffering blunt force trauma to his head and other serious injuries from which he ultimately drowned. His body was not recovered from the water until three days after the accident at which time an autopsy confirmed the cause of death to be blunt force trauma and drowning. One of the other passengers of the boat was trapped under the boat after the boat capsized and also drowned.
WHILE THE TRAGIC LOSS FELT BY THIS WONDERFUL FAMILY WILL ALWAYS BE FELT, OUR CLIENTS EXPRESSED A FEELING OF VINDICATION DUE TO THE SUCCESSFUL RESULT AND CLOSURE OF THIS CASE.
Marc Albert commenced an action on behalf of our client’s family—his spouse and two minor children— against the owner and operator of the boat in the United States District Court, Eastern District of New York. The defendant’s insurance carriers immediately disclaimed coverage for the loss citing exclusions in their respective policies for criminal or intentional acts. Their insured, who had been arrested at the scene and found to have a blood alcohol content of .15, nearly double the legal limit in the State of New York, subsequently pled guilty in a criminal proceeding for criminally negligent manslaughter. As the case proceeded towards trial, the insurance carriers commenced a Declaratory Judgment action seeking to enforce their disclaimer.
After the completion of discovery and as the parties awaited a trial date, both sides agreed to participate in a non-binding mediation proceeding in an attempt to resolve the case amicably. With the Declaratory Judgment action and a decision as to whether coverage existed for this loss still pending, Mr. Albert procured a $2.9 million settlement offer on behalf of our clients following extensive negotiations at the mediation proceeding.