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-   -   Jury awards $30M suit against Mastercraft (http://www.wakeworld.com/forum/showthread.php?t=788080)

fouroheight68 06-08-2011 2:13 PM

Jury awards $30M suit against Mastercraft
 
This is ridiculous

http://www.sacbee.com/2011/06/08/368...-to-chico.html

In short, a tragic accident in Northern California led to a $30M suit against Mastercraft because of the design of the X45 bow (which has 12 people in it!). I remember hearing about this accident a few years ago from someone who was in the boat.

clubjoe 06-08-2011 2:43 PM

Once again an in-animate object is blamed for the stupidity of people..........

06-08-2011 3:25 PM

Everyone should read the article.

Plaintiffs' lawyers charged the MasterCraft X45 has a design flaw that caused the front end of the boat to submerge partially during a low-speed turn and dump Bell and another woman into the water.

"They made the bow huge it was a Frankenstein's monster," said Bell's Sacramento attorney, Roger A. Dreyer. "They took two existing boats and combined them, but never engineered it. They made it very large so a lot of people could be in it. If it dips, the water pours in, and that's what happened."

Along with the 80 percent of responsibility the jury assigned to MasterCraft, it also found boat operator Jerry Montz, now 33, liable for 20 percent of the damages suffered by Bell and Wallenburg.

According to evidence at the trial, Montz had been drinking at the time of the accident and registered a blood-alcohol level of 0.04 percent. He was arrested after the July 9, 2006, accident and later pleaded no contest to negligent operation of a watercraft, according to his lawyer.

I wonder how this verdict will affect other boat manufacturers with the "pickle-fork" front.

The real point that I think everyone should really think hard about though is that the boat operator was found to be 20% liable! No liability was found for the victims of the accident. They reportedly had 12 people in the bow.

Laker1234 06-08-2011 4:41 PM

Remember, California is largely liberal so what did you expect. I mean come on personal responsibliity. It's always someone else's fault. I hate to see people get hurt, but I had a friend get sued by a supposedly friend for a boating accident, but money will make people do strange things.

ottog1979 06-08-2011 4:48 PM

Quote:

The real point that I think everyone should really think hard about though is that the boat operator was found to be 20% liable! No liability was found for the victims of the accident. They reportedly had 12 people in the bow.
This is why everyone should be thinking hard: The skipper is in charge of the boat. Period. If things weren't as he wanted them, he needs to stop operation and get it right. This is the same in a car, but especially so in a boat.

nauty 06-08-2011 4:57 PM

Agreed, the skipper is in charge. My supra fits 3 comfortably, 4 max. When more than two are up there I have a tough time seeing when I'm driving. I have no problem telling people to come back in the cabin when it impairs me from driving the boat. 12 people in the bow is nuts even if it is an X45!

diamonddad 06-09-2011 1:51 AM

Our litigation loto system sucks.

timmyb 06-09-2011 2:25 AM

ragboy found these other articles:
http://www.chicoer.com/news/ci_17937562
and
http://www.chicoer.com/news/ci_17739305?source=pkg

cadunkle 06-09-2011 6:05 AM

X45... Room for you and 19 of your closest friends.

This is nuts that MC is blamed at all for this. The boat was over capacity and the driver allowed what is clearly too many people in the bow. I've never been on a picklefork boat, but I can't imagine that driver could see anything through the mob in the bow, and anyone driving a weighted inboard should know what will happen with all that weight on the bow when slowing down. My boat has a large bow, but anything more than a couple people, depending on age and size, is too much from a standpoint of me being able to see I won't hesitate to tell people to move or stay low so I can see while driving. It's my boat and if you're on my boat you follow my instructions because I don't want anyone getting hurt. Heaven forbid a bad accident happened on my boat and lawyers got involved, I think it would be pretty easy to show that I try to take reasonable precautions, like not having 12 people in the bow of my sacked out wake boat that also has 8 other people hiding somewhere.

If the blame is gonna be an 80/20 split, it should be 80% on the driver and 20% on the people in the bow. It's a travesty and a perfect demonstration of the corrupt courts and legal system we have that MC is being held liable for any of this.

trace 06-09-2011 7:36 AM

My favorite part is when Lon said in court that he can finally now understand why this all happened. Clearly it's MC's fault for designing such a large bow area.

poser007 06-09-2011 5:06 PM

12 people in the bow? Thats ridiculous and just asking for trouble. as a driver of a boat I constantly am aware of the dangers that a boat can propagate. Anyone who knows anything about operating a wakeboard boat knows about weight displacement. Have never been in an X45 but even if it has room for 12 you don't put all 12 in the bow HELLO!!!!

All it would take are a few rollers and the driver not paying attention for the bow to get swamped. Not sure how someone falls out even though water comes in but weird stuff has happened. It is really nearly impossible to put the blame on the manufacturer, as far as I know this is the first time anything like this has happened correct? My gut tells me if the driver would have been more aware or alert to the weight in the boat this could have easily been diverted.

On the flip side making a bow that seats 12 people may not be the best idea ever, especially if a newby to the sport was driving and didn't know better.

wakeboardingdad 06-19-2011 12:27 PM

This is the kind of thing that really upsets me and is why things cost so much today. Cessna used to be "affordable" to the average Joe, but not any more. They have to insure themselves against idiots who fail to follow instructions or use common sense.

People are simply greedy. Here is an example: I work for a public utility. One of our trucks outside mirrors caught a mirror on a city bus. The bus mirror was broken, the utility truck was not. The bus stopped, the utility truck stopped and the police were called due to the accident. In the meantime, the bus filled up with "patrons". My utility was at fault and paid each "patron" $3,000 without so much as one visit to the courthouse or from an attorney. I do not know what is worse. The fact that we paid with so much of a complaint or the fact that some greedy SOB's were street savvy enough to know what was going to happen and board the bus after the accident. As you can imagine, no one was injured.

Next thing you know, somebody will sue over coffee being too hot...... :rolleyes:

cadunkle 06-19-2011 2:38 PM

The problem is the courts allow this. First they will not allow the defendant to present all relevant information in court. If you do tell the whole truth in its entirety they will start the trial again with a new jury, or hold you in contempt and lock you up or fine you heavily. Beyond that, the judge's role here should have been to dismiss this case as it's a clear cut case of individual responsibility. Perhaps there is a case against the driver for allowing the boat to be overloaded, the weight improperly distributed, people to "sit" (12 in the bow, couldn't all be sitting) in an unsafe manner, tucking the bow, and not immediately going to neutral or shut down when someone went overboard off the front. Either way, there is certainly no legitimate case against the manufacturer.

imx 06-20-2011 2:18 AM

Been thinking about this a bit more, and I would have to disagree that the manufacturer is not at all responsible. If you design a boat that has a space large enough to hold a certain amount of people regardless of whether they are sitting or not, or weight (in this case the bow) that would otherwise be within the crafts normal limit, notwithstanding the fact that they shouldn't all be there, and this subsequently places the craft and its' occupants in a hazardous situation, then in my view that is a design flaw.
Remedy: reduce the size of the area so that it can only carry an amount that will not overload the bow.

deltahoosier 06-20-2011 2:57 AM

I call BS. If MC would have put in a 3 inch sticker up front saying you should not have that many people up there they would have probably be exempt from anything in this suit. Obviously I could not be for sure in my argument, I most likely am right. With that said, why would a sticker absolve you of liability? We see it all over the place. I guess the point is, why would a sticker make it OK and why would people not even have a clue that sitting up front like that could be dangerous. Common sense tells you that if you fall out of a moving boat up front, you are going to get ran over. What ever happened to common sense in life?

jarrod 06-20-2011 2:05 PM

Cory hit it. No way were 12 people in seats up front. The bow will not seat 12 people. No matter what the size of the bow was, they were piling people up there.

chadcis62 06-20-2011 2:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by deltahoosier (Post 1687384)
I call BS. If MC would have put in a 3 inch sticker up front saying you should not have that many people up there they would have probably be exempt from anything in this suit. Obviously I could not be for sure in my argument, I most likely am right. With that said, why would a sticker absolve you of liability? We see it all over the place. I guess the point is, why would a sticker make it OK and why would people not even have a clue that sitting up front like that could be dangerous. Common sense tells you that if you fall out of a moving boat up front, you are going to get ran over. What ever happened to common sense in life?


This is correct when we discussing a stationary object like a building, bridge or balcony. When building any of those, yes if you can fit 20 people on a balcony then the balcony should be built to hold 20 people plus 3 feet of snow.

This however is a vessel that moves. When the boat is stationary if you can pile in 20 people and it sinks you might have something to charge MC with. When the boat is moving then all bets are off, the vessel must be evenly distributed and has weight and seating restrictions that must be followed. When push comes to shove if you pile the max number of people in just about any boat and put them in a single corner you can create a dangerous situations. That same goes for a small airplane or car because those have seatbelts it provides a means to balance people around the vehicle. Boats for obvious reasons do not have seatbelts, just seats that you can fill up anyway you want.

imx 06-21-2011 1:26 AM

Chad has hit the nail when he said 'if you pile the max number of people ............... and put them in a single corner..........' Then as a manufacturer you have an obligation to cover your own ar$e by making it VERY CLEAR that you will create a dangerous situation and recommend against doing so or face the consequences. A lot of people have mentioned common sense, responsibility etc which is all well and good but that seems to rarely count for ***t in a court. Have a read through your car/lawnmower etc etc owners manual and see how long before you come to a statement that has you thinking 'What idiot wrote this, that's bloody obvious'. I posted on another site about reading a new European commercial mower manual we took delivery of that said 'to traverse right, turn the steering wheel clockwise. To traverse left turn steering wheel anti clockwise. Every numbskull in the world knows this but it is in there for a reason.

sidekicknicholas 06-21-2011 6:50 AM

Remember the stupid lawsuit against McDonalds because someone was burned from their coffee because the cup didn't say "CAUTION HOT".

I would be great if most people were smart

fly135 06-21-2011 7:58 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by imx (Post 1687619)
A lot of people have mentioned common sense, responsibility etc which is all well and good but that seems to rarely count for ***t in a court.

That's the whole point of the thread. We're complaining about the judicial process that forces all of us to pay for stupidity when in nature stupid takes care of itself.

imx 06-21-2011 8:18 AM

I would have thought stupid would be more akin to not covering yourself against risk by making a simple warning , unless you didn't do enough product testing in the first place to even know, which would be even dumber.
We like to think we are a bit above nature, which is why we take care of the sick and elderly for example. It follows then that we help the 'stupid' along as well by stating the bleeding obvious to them when we take their money.

plhorn 06-21-2011 8:43 AM

Paul the problem with your idea that MC should put a "simple warning" to cover their risks, is that they will have to write a large book filled with simple warnings:
"Don't dance on the tower", "don't jump out at high speed", "don't tie a rope around your neck and the tower at the same time"...
There are too many ways that people can be stupid. If we keep not holding people responsible for their own actions it paralyzes the makers of products who will have to spend more time printing little warnings then designing and building their products.
I don't know about you but I think Boats are pretty damn expensive already. If they have to hire more lawyers to put little stickers and warning manuals all over the place do you think they will get any cheaper?

fly135 06-21-2011 8:56 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by imx (Post 1687657)
I would have thought stupid would be more akin to not covering yourself against risk by making a simple warning , unless you didn't do enough product testing in the first place to even know, which would be even dumber.

Have you ever examined human nature? No matter what the situation there are always people, in this case lawyers who can make a convincing argument that will get people to believe anything. There is no protection that a manufacturer can have in place that will prevent them from being victimized from this.

behindtheboat 06-21-2011 11:59 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by fly135 (Post 1687672)
Have you ever examined human nature? No matter what the situation there are always people, in this case lawyers who can make a convincing argument that will get people to believe anything. There is no protection that a manufacturer can have in place that will prevent them from being victimized from this.

Yes, there is. Testing and test results aren't a given protection, but they will certainly help. And I know, you're going to say they were over capacity, so it's irrelevant here, but when a court hears that no testing was performed, even to validate the capacity rating, they aren't going to listen to much more. Most if not any business in highly regulated environments over perform testing, to ensure quality as well as to cover their behind in case of it being needed.

bftskir 06-21-2011 4:20 PM

Exactly, had Mastercraft done tests and documented the 18 person capacity...then they could say he was overloaded but even though they had a capacity rating on the boat they had no tests or documentation to show how they rated it at 18. The lawyers must have jumped up and down in joy when they found no tests no documentation to support the rating on the boat. Makes it look like it was an arbitrary number just so Mastercraft could claim "Thanks to the roomy twin-tip bow, the MasterCraft feels bigger and offers more seating area than any other 24-footer"

imx 06-22-2011 12:37 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by plhorn (Post 1687667)
Paul the problem with your idea that MC should put a "simple warning" to cover their risks, is that they will have to write a large book filled with simple warnings:
"Don't dance on the tower", "don't jump out at high speed", "don't tie a rope around your neck and the tower at the same time"...
There are too many ways that people can be stupid. If we keep not holding people responsible for their own actions it paralyzes the makers of products who will have to spend more time printing little warnings then designing and building their products.
I don't know about you but I think Boats are pretty damn expensive already. If they have to hire more lawyers to put little stickers and warning manuals all over the place do you think they will get any cheaper?

The warning should be along the lines of " while the boat capacity is 18, it is strongly advised that you do not exceed x people in the bow area to ensure safe operation of the craft' The difference between your examples and this, is that if you state that a boat can hold x number of people with the full knowledge that people in a boat move around, then there is a reasonable expectation, I would have thought, upon the manufacturer to know what effect any movement within the boat might have for any number up to the limit. Moving around in a boat is quite a normal occurence I would assume, unlike tying ropes from towers to your neck and that is the crux of the issue.

WakeUKY 06-22-2011 12:48 PM

What are the possibilities of Mastercraft introducing state law into the mix to fight this? I know in Kentucky state law says that occupants of boats under x feet have to all be seated below the gunnel while the boat is under operation. The X-45 falls under x number of feet by a good amount. In this scenario there would be no possible way to accommodate 12 adults in the bow without violating a state law. I am far from the likes of any court guru but how could the case move forward if such a STATE LAW was found to be strictly violated.

wakeboardingdad 06-22-2011 1:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by imx (Post 1687889)
" while the boat capacity is 18, it is strongly advised that you do not exceed x people in the bow area to ensure safe operation of the craft'

Then again, hind sight is always 20/20. We are dealing with this at work. You can never, ever come up with directions or disclaimers for every scenario. What about while driving blind folded, no hands, with feet, while "busy" :)? You mean you really have to put the trailer down into the water to load the boat? Not picking on you imx. It is simply impossible to think of every single way that people can be a dumbazz. The only reason why Mastercraft is being targeted here, like all companies, is because they have deep pockets and people are greedy. Where is the personal responsibility? I'd have to bet that the driver wasn't the only one under the influence on that boat.

fly135 06-22-2011 1:09 PM

I can easily submerge the bow of my Ski Nautique Open Bow with nobody even in the bow.

imx 06-23-2011 12:37 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by wakeboardingdad (Post 1688013)
Then again, hind sight is always 20/20. We are dealing with this at work. You can never, ever come up with directions or disclaimers for every scenario. What about while driving blind folded, no hands, with feet, while "busy" :)? You mean you really have to put the trailer down into the water to load the boat? Not picking on you imx. It is simply impossible to think of every single way that people can be a dumbazz. The only reason why Mastercraft is being targeted here, like all companies, is because they have deep pockets and people are greedy. Where is the personal responsibility? I'd have to bet that the driver wasn't the only one under the influence on that boat.

Don't worry about picking on me, I'm a big boy. Enjoying the discussion on this and while I agree that nowadays we too easily look to blame someone else I am trying to look at it from both sides. My point about warnings is when you build something with the concept of it carrying human cargo and it floats (or is supposed to- sorry couldn't resist), two things should spring to mind 1. People will move around in it 2. What will be the effect of this.
You will never legislate against Fwits just look at drink driving infringements, but it would seem to me that there may need to be a bit more work done with regard to PF bows and possibly bowriders with regard to making the driver more aware of the potential for an accident than a closed bow.

stephan 06-23-2011 5:55 PM

In college I studied commercial tourism and we had a class that discussed the legal aspects of recreation, tours etc etc.

One of the things that was repeatedly drilled into our heads was that no matter how strong your liability release form, and no matter who signs and acknowledges receiving it, you are still going to be sued when an accident happens. We studied one previous case where the provider was found liable based on the argument that the liability release admitted to providing a dangerous activity that should not be offered to the public (I think it was a cave tour or something), never mind that the person accepted the risk and signed to acknowledge exactly that!!

Moral of the story is protect ya neck (somehow). And please, for the love of god, don't be stupid!


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