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Old    Kat Laird (wakekat15)      Join Date: Jul 2005       06-08-2011, 7:04 AM Reply   
So, a guy puts more people in a boat than it's rated for....asks over half of them to pile up front so the boat would plane out to get his wakeboarder up to speed & the carnage that resulted is 80% Mastercraft's fault. I don't get it....kind of explains why boats cost so much!

CHICO — A Butte County Superior Court jury has found that a boat maker is primarily at fault for a 2006 accident on Lake Oroville that seriously injured two women.

After nearly two and a half days of deliberation, the jury ruled that Niki Bell should be awarded $30.9 million in damages for the accident that caused multiple skull fractures, brain damage and loss of her left eye. The jury found that co-plaintiff Bethany Mercer, formerly Wallenburg, should be awarded $530,688 for injuries on her arm, leg and back.

The panel voted 11-1 that MasterCraft Boat Co. was 80 percent at fault for the July 9, 2006 incident while Jerry Montz, the driver of the MasterCraft X-45 wakeboarding boat, was responsible for 20 percent.

The verdict was stayed for 60 days, allowing attorneys to file additional motions in the case.

Bell's attorney, Roger Dreyer, hailed the verdict after the 49-day trial. He said the Bell family had pursued the case over five years because they didn't want what happened to Niki Bell to happen to anyone else.

"Twelve people in Butte County just told a major manufacturer to do their job," Dreyer said.

Throughout the case, Dreyer argued the 24-foot-long boat was defective in ways that couldn't have been foreseen by Montz. Deficiencies include ladder holes in the hull that may have let water in the boat's shell and a hull design that may have made it easier to swamp.

Dreyer had also argued MasterCraft had not performed adequate testing or design of the craft prior to the accident.

The accident occurred after a wakeboarding run where many passengers had moved to the forward bow portion of the boat to create better wakeboarding conditions. Montz had reportedly slowed the boat and then turned around to recover the wakeboarder when the craft began taking on water in the bow. Bell and Mercer, who were sitting in the bow, were swept off the boat and struck by the in-board propeller.

The jury ultimately agreed with Dreyer's arguments. The panel voted 10-2 that MasterCraft should have reasonably foreseen how the X-45 was going to be used. The jury also ruled 11-1 that the X-45's design was a substantial factor in the accident and that the boat's design defects outweighed benefits.

For Montz, the jury was unanimous ruling that the driver was negligent and that his actions were a substantial factor in the accident. In civil cases, at least nine members of the 12-person jury must agree for a verdict.

After the verdict was read, the plaintiffs and their families gathered outside of the Chico courthouse. Bell's father, Robert, said the whole process had been to help provide care for his daughter.

"A lot of people poured their heart into this case," Bob Bell said.

Mother Cindy Bell said they felt blessed, thanks to the legal team and the support from the community, who had previously put on three fundraisers for Niki's care.

Mercer said that the verdict was a relief. Mercer's attorney, Robert Bale, said the verdict showed that people here want manufacturers to think about more than profits.

"It's not just about building a party boat, it's about building a safe boat," Bale said.

Montz's attorney, Jerry Duncan, said his client was thankful for everybody's efforts in the case. "Jerry Montz is satisfied with the allocation of fault made by the jury," Duncan said.

Duncan noted all of the passengers on the boat claimed Montz did not do anything wrong leading up to the accident. He also echoed Dreyer's assertion the driver was unaware of the X-45's issues.

Thomas Nielsen, representing MasterCraft, said he was disappointed in the outcome. He said he still strongly felt the boat's design had nothing to do with the accident.

During his closing argument, Nielsen said that MasterCraft couldn't have foreseen how Montz used the X-45 and claimed that the driver should bear much of the responsibility.

He said there was a chain of events by the boat's participants that led to the accident.

Actions included overloading the boat with 20 passengers and shifting passengers to the forward bow portion to shift the boat's balance.

Nielsen did note it was a difficult case because of the nature of the injuries.

He also praised Niki Bell as a remarkable woman and noted her tremendous recovery.
Old    David (Luker)      Join Date: Feb 2010       06-08-2011, 8:15 AM Reply   
Wow... thats crazy. Totally the drivers fault IMO. I doubt the victims family really thought MC was responsible but they knew the drivers pockets weren't nearly as deep as MCs. This is the world we live in I guess... sux for the victims, sux for MC, and the driver was an idiot.
Old    John (stoked_32)      Join Date: Aug 2007       06-08-2011, 8:17 AM Reply   
Thanks for sharing, very interesting. I guess the only way I think this could happen was that the driver slowed down quickly, swamped the boat, didn't realize two people fell in the water and powerturned back? I dunno, just speculation. I doubt it was any one person's fault, we all lose in this situation. Some more than others.
Old    Mase (superair502)      Join Date: Mar 2010       06-08-2011, 11:05 AM Reply   
Guess that's why boat costs go up 5% every year. Ladder holes? Really? The ladder sits above the rub rail. If you get the water above the rub rail I believe the "ladder holes" would be the least of their worries. I wonder if the jury had any idea how far the nose actually sits out of the water when weighted within regs
Old    John Anderson (fly135)      Join Date: Jun 2004       06-08-2011, 11:26 AM Reply   
When your jury is a panel of idiots you can get them to agree to anything. 20 people in the boat means everyone who is an adult is partly responsible. So I'd say the fault is 50% owner and 50/19% for each other person. The boat manufacturer has nothing to do with it.
Old     (UNvisible)      Join Date: May 2010       06-08-2011, 11:30 AM Reply   
i liken this to suing a car manufacturer for every auto wreck.... It comes down to user error in nearly every case.
Old    Andy Nintzel (andy_nintzel)      Join Date: Sep 2004       06-08-2011, 11:30 AM Reply   
NICE! What a great legal system we have! Protecting the dumb! I love it. what is wrong with this country. So if I put 7 people in my 5 passenger car, Crash and two people get seriously hurt should that be Acura's Fault? WTF!
Old    John James (johnboyy7)      Join Date: Apr 2011       06-08-2011, 11:53 AM Reply   
can we really expect the driver to take responsibility????? when was the last time you heard anyone in a visable position take responsiblitly for their actions. we are showed daily that you dont have to, just blame someone else.
Old    Shawndoggy (shawndoggy)      Join Date: Nov 2009       06-08-2011, 12:03 PM Reply   
Quote:
Originally Posted by andy_nintzel View Post
NICE! What a great legal system we have! Protecting the dumb! I love it. what is wrong with this country. So if I put 7 people in my 5 passenger car, Crash and two people get seriously hurt should that be Acura's Fault? WTF!
well... what if it's because the brakes fail as the result of a design defect? Does you having 7 people in the car now clear Acura from any liability whatsoever, even if it turns out the brakes were improperly designed?
Old    C.I.E. J-Rod (jarrod)      Join Date: May 2003       06-08-2011, 12:54 PM Reply   
So if I put 7 people in my 5 passenger car, Crash and two people get seriously hurt should that be Acura's Fault? WTF![/QUOTE]

You drive an Acura? Nice!

I agree with most of the posts here. The driver was in over his head.

1. His boat was overloaded
2. His boat was unsafely weighted front heavy
3. He didn't see the passengers fall out

With that said, I think most of us overweight our boats and run them right on the edge of sinking. The difference is experience I guess.

I thought the alcohol thing was a cheap shot. .04 is probably one beer.
Old    Andy Nintzel (andy_nintzel)      Join Date: Sep 2004       06-08-2011, 1:14 PM Reply   
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnboyy7 View Post
can we really expect the driver to take responsibility????? when was the last time you heard anyone in a visable position take responsiblitly for their actions. we are showed daily that you dont have to, just blame someone else.
true.


I was more than anything just venting about how stupid this lawsuit was.

Jarrod, I sorta fibbed, I do drive a Acura but its a 7 passenger 2011 MDX Tech, rolling on 22"s its hot! I will post up a pic, the only problem is I cant tow my boat with it so I had to keep the 2002 F-150.
Old    WakeViolater (wakeviolater)      Join Date: Sep 2004       06-08-2011, 1:17 PM Reply   
if it is legal to drink and drive a boat (as long as your under 0.08), it should not be brought to light unless the limit is exceeded.
Old    Andy Nintzel (andy_nintzel)      Join Date: Sep 2004       06-08-2011, 1:22 PM Reply   
wakeviolater, great point.
Old    C.I.E. J-Rod (jarrod)      Join Date: May 2003       06-08-2011, 1:25 PM Reply   
Sure about that Al? I thought the driver couldn't legally drink while driving.
Old    Andy Nintzel (andy_nintzel)      Join Date: Sep 2004       06-08-2011, 1:30 PM Reply   
J-Rod,

In minnesota its like a Car, you cannot leagally have an open beverage while driving (the dive that is). You can however drive the boat up to a .08. Really sketchy law, i have a buddy who got a BUI and didn't have a cocktail in hand, the counted the number of open beers (still having brew in them) in the boat and the number of people. Gave him th test he blew a .08 and got nabbed for a BUI.
Old    C.I.E..... Evan (guido)      Join Date: Jul 2002       06-08-2011, 1:37 PM Reply   
As far as I'm concerned, when you load more people or weight into your boat than the coast guard sticker recomends, then the boat manufacture is instantly off the hook. If there were 15 people in the boat and the weight limit wasn't exceeded, then it's a different story.

Master Craft should counter sue for overloading their boat and potential libel as a result of this case.

Litigous people kill me. I hate the sue happy nature. Nobody takes responsibility for their own actions.

FWIW... I would put money on the line that there was a power turn involved. Probably swamped the boat going back through their own rollers.

I hate government over regulation, but there should be a drivers license test for everyone driving a boat. Like it or not.... A boat is equal or more dangerous than driving a car on the road. At the minimum a reduction in insurance premiums would be a cool return for those that had taken a boaters safety course. It may actually encourage people. I'd also love to see that course include info about towing and watersports.
Old    Justin Harrelson (skiboarder)      Join Date: Oct 2006       06-08-2011, 1:40 PM Reply   
....

Last edited by skiboarder; 06-08-2011 at 1:45 PM. Reason: I decided to hold my opinion to myself.
Old    Dwight Kinley (beretta5spd)      Join Date: Jan 2010       06-08-2011, 2:17 PM Reply   
mastercraft obviously has a plan for beating this but I'm just trying to figure out how their lawyers even let it get this far.
Old    Seahawks #1 Fan Robert T (cwb4me)      Join Date: Apr 2010       06-08-2011, 2:32 PM Reply   
If it was a car full of people and a accident occured,would the auto manufacturer be at fault.In a lawyers eyes yes,because they have the money.Lawyers always go after the money.Right or wrong they go after the money.
Old    Kat Laird (wakekat15)      Join Date: Jul 2005       06-08-2011, 3:03 PM Reply   
Quote:
Originally Posted by jarrod View Post
I thought the alcohol thing was a cheap shot. .04 is probably one beer.
What alcohol thing? I didn't see that in the article. I promise I read it 3 times before asking!

NEVERMIND...saw it in another article that had more details:

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

Last edited by wakekat15; 06-08-2011 at 3:11 PM.
Old    C.I.E. J-Rod (jarrod)      Join Date: May 2003       06-08-2011, 3:14 PM Reply   
The end of the story sums it up. The one victim will probably be unable to provide for herself once her parents are gone. This was a financial security move for their daughter, and the insurance company probably couldn't deliver enough dough to cover the long term care costs for their injured daughter,

I do agree with Evan, and I'm wondering how Mastercraft lost on the fact that the boat was clearly being operated over capacity!!!! The driver ignored the warning. If I wreck a 5 passenger car with 8 people in it and the three extra people die, that's not the car makers fault.

I smell yet another idiot warning sticker. "Don't not operate with more than 4 people in bow"
Old    SamIngram            06-08-2011, 3:33 PM Reply   
I can't believe that everyone is calling out the driver and saying that he is responsible, but only one person John Anderson (fly135) thinks that the people injured were at least partly to blame.

You are responsible for your own actions. If you do something stupid and get hurt it is your fault!

It was their decision to ride in the front of the boat, I seriously doubt the driver said, "Hey, everyone get in front!"

Everyone should seriously consider at minimum a blanket general liability insurance policy.
Old    Chad (chadcis62)      Join Date: Feb 2011       06-08-2011, 3:39 PM Reply   
A jury is made up of 12 people who where not smart enough to get out of jury duty or who had nothing more important to do they could burn off a week or longer of work.

The bow of an X-45 is not so large that you could fit 20 people sitting. At absolute best if you could put 7-8 very petite adult girls there before you have to start doing lap sitting or people standing in the bow walkway. This bow probably had the largest people(guys) sitting with the smaller people(girls) sitting on laps and those that were sitting on laps were the ones that get ejected from the boat. I bet the driver pulled off the gas after the boarder fell, which brought the boat off plane instantly, the boat not only dropped it from 20 mph to 5 mph it also had the bow dip, since it was overloaded it dived under the water. Since the passengers were still traveling forward 20 mph they flew forward off the boat, but the boat was still moving 5 mph and ran them over just seconds later.

check this out:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=68AOl..._safety_mode=1
Old    J D (jeff_mn)      Join Date: Jul 2009       06-08-2011, 3:40 PM Reply   
Quote:
Originally Posted by SamIngram View Post
I can't believe that everyone is calling out the driver and saying that he is responsible, but only one person John Anderson (fly135) thinks that the people injured were at least partly to blame.

You are responsible for your own actions. If you do something stupid and get hurt it is your fault!

It was their decision to ride in the front of the boat, I seriously doubt the driver said, "Hey, everyone get in front!"

Everyone should seriously consider at minimum a blanket general liability insurance policy.
lol @ riding in the bow of a boat being stupid.

you are such a ****ing idiot it's incredible. Keep posting - it's humorous.
Old    SamIngram            06-08-2011, 3:49 PM Reply   
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeff_mn View Post
lol @ riding in the bow of a boat being stupid.

you are such a ****ing idiot it's incredible. Keep posting - it's humorous.
So you are saying that a person is not responsible for their own actions? You don't think that someone might consider riding in the front of a grossly over-weighted front of a moving boat dangerous? Really? and you call me an idiot?
Old    C.I.E. J-Rod (jarrod)      Join Date: May 2003       06-08-2011, 3:55 PM Reply   
I disagree Sam. I think that most people hopping in a boat are assuming that the owner / operator knows what he is doing. I know the first time I got in a boat to hang out with friends, the last thing I was worried about was whether or not the driver would kill us. It's his boat, I'm assuming he knows what he is doing.

As wakeboarders, we're obviously not this Naive , but the average inexperienced boater would probably not question the safety and experience of a driver.

When you invite people on your boat, you're taking their lives in your hands. Anything that happens in your fault.

And I do believe he put the people up there to get the boat on plane.
Old    C.I.E. J-Rod (jarrod)      Join Date: May 2003       06-08-2011, 3:56 PM Reply   
That's the thing though. Who would know the nose is grossly over loaded beside the experienced boater / rider.
Old    SamIngram            06-08-2011, 3:57 PM Reply   
So you are saying that while I am on your boat I have ZERO responsibility for my own safety and my own actions?

I'm not saying they are 100% responsible, but they should at least be partially responsible.
Old    Ty (wakeandsnow27)      Join Date: Jun 2004       06-08-2011, 4:02 PM Reply   
the girl who got $500k is getting married this weekend. I bet it's an nice wedding.

http://registry.weddingchannel.com/c...WALLENBURG.htm


QUOTE- Mother Cindy Bell said they felt blessed, thanks to the legal team and the support from the community, who had previously put on three fundraisers for Niki's care.

..............and the 30million they just pocketed less taxes, attorney fees and medical bills.
If the reason really was to make sure it didnt happen to other people, than donate the money away and prove it.
Old    Andy Graham (ottog1979)      Join Date: Apr 2007       06-08-2011, 4:28 PM Reply   
Dude (Ty), She's brain damaged and lost an eye. Would you trade those things for $30MM?

That said, I'm not on the tort lawyers side on this. I think the laws and legal system is crazy stupid in this area. But don't you think your statement about her giving it away is a little harsh?
Old    SamIngram            06-08-2011, 4:35 PM Reply   
I just asked one of my employees about this case. I described the scenario to him (a 49 year old father of three with degrees in forestry and industrial engineering) and he said that since I go to the lake every weekend I readily recognize unsafe behavior and that it is entirely possible that the girls did not. I then asked him who was responsible or liable for the accident. His answer was the boat manufacturer! He said that the driver may not recognize that the action is unsafe either and followed up by saying that if the bow of the boat was large enough to accommodate all the people then the driver could very easily be led to believe that it was safe having them sit there. I then pleaded my case to him that the riders were at least partially responsible. He said no way, they may have no or limited experience with boats.

I thought this was very interesting... it seems as though liability is entirely based on your boating knowledge in this case.

(Note to Jeff Wadholm (jeff_mn), this is how you have a discussion... please take note)
Old    Kat Laird (wakekat15)      Join Date: Jul 2005       06-08-2011, 4:50 PM Reply   
Yeah, Sam...that was their whole case "that it was MasterCraft's responsibility to foresee and test for reasonable misuses including Montz's actions of having too many passengers or shifting the balance of the boat." According to reports, the captain of the boat did tell the passengers to get up front because he couldn't get the boat to plane out. I don't know if the two young women seriously injured were sitting on the gunwale, but it was reported due to TWELVE passengers being up front that people were sitting there.

It is tragic for the victims, but this case against Mastercraft is nauseating & will just keep pushing already over priced wakeboard boats even higher.

I wonder if this will just lead to a lot of warning stickers, or IF the verdict holds up on appeal, the demise of the pickelfork design.
Old    Andy Graham (ottog1979)      Join Date: Apr 2007       06-08-2011, 4:56 PM Reply   
Come on guys... I can't believe you people think the passengers should have some liability. The skipper, who I am assuming owns the boat, knows how many people it's rated for. So he puts 20 people in it and someone else, including the manufacturer and passengers are supposed to be partially liable. Please.. The passengers may be dumb asses, naive or never on a boat before, but liable? .

When you kill or hurt people when driving your car, even if they don't have their seat belt on, you are liable.
Old    DEFIANT Wake (DEFIANTwake)      Join Date: Jan 2011       06-08-2011, 4:57 PM Reply   
http://wakeworld.com/news/feature/fr...powerturn.html
Old    sperbet            06-08-2011, 4:58 PM Reply   
MC likely also got sued as they have the deepest pockets. What was the victim going to gain from suing the boat driver? Defintely not $30M...

Your typical "boater" is completely clueless. This is just another reason why you should need to take a class and get a license to drive a boat.
Old    A-dub (behindtheboat)      Join Date: Aug 2006       06-08-2011, 5:06 PM Reply   
Can you really fit 12 people in that bow, all sitting?

Dealer should hold as much if not more responsibility for selling to an uneducated/not educating the buyer, if the case is they didn't know they couldn't do that.
Old    Andy Graham (ottog1979)      Join Date: Apr 2007       06-08-2011, 5:07 PM Reply   
A-dub, you might have a second career as a lawyer!
Old    A-dub (behindtheboat)      Join Date: Aug 2006       06-08-2011, 5:18 PM Reply   
i'm not saying it's right, just that in this situation, if MC is found liable, they never interacted with the customer, but the dealer did.

We had a dealer when I was growing up that would take you on their lake, in your boat, and go over everything that you do, and don't do. I would foresee this being protocol after something like this, almost with a credentialing process.

"I need you to initial here that you understand it is unsafe to put more than 4 people in the bow"

Again, I don't think this is right, just commenting.
Old    Chad (chadcis62)      Join Date: Feb 2011       06-08-2011, 5:19 PM Reply   
Quote:
Originally Posted by behindtheboat View Post
Can you really fit 12 people in that bow, all sitting?

Dealer should hold as much if not more responsibility for selling to an uneducated/not educating the buyer, if the case is they didn't know they couldn't do that.
The name of the game is sue the guy with the most money, not the most guilty. If anything besides larger boat prices this ruling will result the buyer having to sign another legal document with a list of 200 things you should not do with the boat like ride on the gunwale, or it on the sun pad or a million other things that when they do happen again the laywer will say my plantiff had so many papers to sign he could not possibly be expected to have read them all.
Old    SamIngram            06-08-2011, 5:31 PM Reply   
Will this affect the pickle fork design? Will other manufacturers take notice of this regarding that design. I see that Malibu even has a pickle-fork now.
Old    Ben Ax (hawkeye7708)      Join Date: Feb 2007       06-08-2011, 6:02 PM Reply   
You never want to see anybody get hurt, nor do you want to sound like you have no sympathy for them, HOWEVER, if you surpass the "limits" on your craft knowingly, you are clearly not using your craft as it was intended. Bottom line.
Old    Randy Scagliotti (wakedad33)      Join Date: Oct 2005       06-08-2011, 8:00 PM Reply   
I work in the litigation field (construction defect) and I'm sure MC will appel this vertic to the appellate court, the boat was clearly overloaded per the manufactures spec. I feel the higher court will see this outcome differntly as to MC being 80% at fault. I hope so. Sounds like operator error to me. Paryer's out to the injured involved.
Old    Brad Walker (humboldt9)      Join Date: Jun 2004       06-08-2011, 10:39 PM Reply   
Driver: WTF the boats not getting on plane!
Driver: Hey, you 12 get up in the bow!

Rider down, power turn, tragedy!!!

It will be interesting to see what this lawsuit is going to do to future prices. Even if they (Mastercraft) win on appeal the legal fees are going to be huge. Mastercraft should look into the attorneys representing Yamaha with their Rhino product liability cases. In most cases almost all have been operator error/negligence and they've won almost every case. On the other hand, put yourself in that girls and her families shoes... I'll take all my faculties over $30mm...
Old    Will (razorjaw)      Join Date: Jan 2003       06-08-2011, 11:57 PM Reply   
Driver at fault for sure. Most people in a boat situation are relying on the driver having the skills and expertise to make safe judgments. I have been in many boats where most passengers don't know a thing about boating safety and listen to what the driver says without question, With that said, what an awful situation. Absolutely devastating for all involved I'm sure.
Old    Alex Yermolenko (alexair)      Join Date: Oct 2008       06-09-2011, 12:11 AM Reply   
I agree with ALWake.com about small driver pockets and really driver was idiot. MC have no good chance to win, because human helth is priority.
Old    paul. (imx)      Join Date: Jul 2009       06-09-2011, 1:27 AM Reply   
It could be argued that the manufacturer has designed the boat for a certain capacity of people, but the boat will become dangerously unstable if the passengers are too far forward or elsewhere. It may follow then that the manufacturer should only have rated the craft for the number of passengers that could be moved in such a circumstance and not place the boat in a precarious position, ie: only 8 passengers can be accomodated in the bow area and still operate the boat in a safe manner, so that becomes the boats' capacity regardless of how many will fit comfortably in the entire boat.
Old    Timmy! (timmyb)      Join Date: Apr 2007       06-09-2011, 2:26 AM Reply   
ragboy found these other articles:
http://www.chicoer.com/news/ci_17937562
and
http://www.chicoer.com/news/ci_17739305?source=pkg
Old    C.I.E. J-Rod (jarrod)      Join Date: May 2003       06-09-2011, 8:33 AM Reply   
"So you are saying that while I am on your boat I have ZERO responsibility for my own safety and my own actions? "

not saying that at all.
Old    Chad (chadcis62)      Join Date: Feb 2011       06-09-2011, 9:50 AM Reply   
The jury made an emotional verdict not a logical verdict. When they consider the “Ladder Holes” a defect that could allow water into the boat they are showing their stupidity. The MC bow ladder is on the gunwale for heaven sake, if bow is so close to the water line that water is getting in those holes you are about 1” short of getting swamped. The bow should never get that close to the waterline ever, unless your goal is to sink your boat.

This argument is illogical:
only 8 passengers can be accommodated in the bow area and still operate the boat in a safe manner, so that becomes the boats' capacity regardless of how many will fit comfortably in the entire boat.
Under that logic since the swim platform can only accommodate 4 people safely then the seating capacity of say an X-80 should be just 4 people. Give me a break. Stuff like this results in those stupid yellow warning stickers all over the boat; you will probably have a warning sticker on the bow that says “Only seats 6 adults”, one on the swim platform that says “Should not exceed 4 people”, one on the windshield that says “Do not stand on this”. Most of us will look those ugly stickers and say “No $h#t” who was the idiot that made those warning necessary?
Old    Joe (ilikebeaverandboats)      Join Date: Jul 2007       06-09-2011, 9:50 AM Reply   
Quote:
Originally Posted by jarrod View Post
I disagree Sam. I think that most people hopping in a boat are assuming that the owner / operator knows what he is doing. I know the first time I got in a boat to hang out with friends, the last thing I was worried about was whether or not the driver would kill us. It's his boat, I'm assuming he knows what he is doing.

As wakeboarders, we're obviously not this Naive , but the average inexperienced boater would probably not question the safety and experience of a driver.

When you invite people on your boat, you're taking their lives in your hands. Anything that happens in your fault.

And I do believe he put the people up there to get the boat on plane.
I agree with you 100% here.
We, as boat owners/operators, are supposed to be the experienced ones and need to be looking out for our passengers.


You cant expect the average person to know much of anything. especially about things they arent familiar with. In many cases, most people out on the water (especially the passengers) have not spent much time around boats.
Old    SamIngram            06-09-2011, 10:06 AM Reply   
OK, I understand the arguments that the passenger who knows nothing about boating may not understand that having an unbalanced load may not be safe, but what about this:

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.

Do you all still think the passengers are not at partial fault? They chose to ride in a boat with a driver who was impaired! Don't they show bad judgement for placing their lives in his hands?
Old    Joe (ilikebeaverandboats)      Join Date: Jul 2007       06-09-2011, 10:35 AM Reply   
Quote:
Originally Posted by SamIngram View Post
OK, I understand the arguments that the passenger who knows nothing about boating may not understand that having an unbalanced load may not be safe, but what about this:

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.

Do you all still think the passengers are not at partial fault? They chose to ride in a boat with a driver who was impaired! Don't they show bad judgement for placing their lives in his hands?
i see what your saying, but the lack of experience is still a factor. They would have nothing to compare the poor operator too, to know that he was a poor operator. see what I mean? I have a few friends that come to the lake with me every now and then, I do my best to explain everything so we can be safe. There is another guy i know, who takes a few of these same people out with him. He has an I/O and he "wakesurfs", which is insanely stupid and unsafe. He tells them its safe, they trust him, and they have no reason not to believe it wasnt safe. They assumed he knew what he was doing and they "surf" all the time. He is risking some serious injury on their part, but they have absolutely no idea.
Old    John Anderson (fly135)      Join Date: Jun 2004       06-09-2011, 10:38 AM Reply   
It's the govt's fault for not making the boat owners complete a comprehensive course on piloting a water vehicle. If you guys keep following the logic above of placing responsibility on any single individual or the manufacturer, then you need to agree with the previous statement.

There are no requirements for being a boat driver. That suggests to me that any adult that gets in a boat takes on some responsibility for himself. The fact that extensive training for operating a boat is not required speaks to the idea that anyone who gets in a boat is taking on responsibility.
Old    C.I.E..... Evan (guido)      Join Date: Jul 2002       06-09-2011, 11:33 AM Reply   
Kat mentioned that the girls that were injured were sitting on the gunwhale when the accident occurred.

So, let's see.... Not only was the boat grossly overloaded (12 people don't fit sitting down in the front of a X-45 by any means), but they were also breaking the law (sitting on the gunwhale while a vessel is in motion is illegal in California).

How did they win the case again?

The problem is that you have a jury of people that have likely never stepped foot on a boat in their life, let alone been instructed on safe vessel operation.

I'm totally with Jarrod. When I get on a boat I expect that the driver knows what they're doing.
Old    Timmy! (timmyb)      Join Date: Apr 2007       06-09-2011, 12:45 PM Reply   
It says in one of the articles that the operator was a lifetime boater. He "should" know what he's doing if that is the case.
Old    Paul (psudy)      Join Date: Dec 2003       06-09-2011, 12:46 PM Reply   
"So, let's see.... Not only was the boat grossly overloaded (12 people don't fit sitting down in the front of a X-45 by any means), but they were also breaking the law (sitting on the gunwhale while a vessel is in motion is illegal in California). "

Over capacity, check

breaking the law, Check

Driver was proven to be impaired by vertue of plea, Check.

And they still lost. I don't get it either. MC needs to can those lawyers quick.
Old    Jeremy (wake77)      Join Date: Jan 2009       06-09-2011, 1:03 PM Reply   
I think an appeals court will overturn this ruling or at least reduce MC's financial responsibility significantly. I will be shocked if it is found that MC is responsible for the entire 30 mil, but I will not be surprised if it ends up costing them a few mil.
Old    CJ Meert (Meert)      Join Date: Mar 2010       06-09-2011, 1:57 PM Reply   
Seems to me a good idea for MC's legal team would be take a field trip with the jury to the lake and have all 12 of them pile in the front of the x-45 and then ask any questions?
Old    Kat Laird (wakekat15)      Join Date: Jul 2005       06-09-2011, 2:33 PM Reply   
Obviously, I do not know for sure they were sitting on the gunwale, but according to this article, they were...

http://www.orovillemr.com/ci_1822904...orovillemr.com

It appears the "smoking gun" against Mastercraft is that they never tested the boat at full capacity or with a large portion of the weight up front. But again, this 33 year old driver (Montz) stated that he is a "lifetime boater and has over 20 years of boating experience". Driving what is the 1st thought that comes to my mind. This accident would never have happened with a captain that knows what they are doing & he's lucky that he didn't kill those two girls.
Old    Kat Laird (wakekat15)      Join Date: Jul 2005       06-09-2011, 2:57 PM Reply   
FACT CHECK...my apologies, that specific article did not state they were on the gunwale, only that they were sitting in the bow. Another article stated that Montz allowed twelve people to "sit" in the bow. Obviously, that many people cannot sit in the bow, so there is no telling where people were and how they were holding on.
Old    Chad B (Khemosahbe)      Join Date: Jul 2010       06-09-2011, 8:48 PM Reply   
Not to mention that the driver likely wouldn't have been able to see anything in front of him with 12 people in the bow....
Old    paul. (imx)      Join Date: Jul 2009       06-10-2011, 1:37 AM Reply   
Quote:
Originally Posted by chadcis62 View Post
The jury made an emotional verdict not a logical verdict. When they consider the “Ladder Holes” a defect that could allow water into the boat they are showing their stupidity. The MC bow ladder is on the gunwale for heaven sake, if bow is so close to the water line that water is getting in those holes you are about 1” short of getting swamped. The bow should never get that close to the waterline ever, unless your goal is to sink your boat.

This argument is illogical:
only 8 passengers can be accommodated in the bow area and still operate the boat in a safe manner, so that becomes the boats' capacity regardless of how many will fit comfortably in the entire boat.
Under that logic since the swim platform can only accommodate 4 people safely then the seating capacity of say an X-80 should be just 4 people. Give me a break. Stuff like this results in those stupid yellow warning stickers all over the boat; you will probably have a warning sticker on the bow that says “Only seats 6 adults”, one on the swim platform that says “Should not exceed 4 people”, one on the windshield that says “Do not stand on this”. Most of us will look those ugly stickers and say “No $h#t” who was the idiot that made those warning necessary?
Unfortunately Chad, this is the world you live in. As I said, it would be a logical assumption to think that a boat should not be so affected by the movement of passengers contained within it's specified capacity as to make it vulnerable to sinking.
Old    Paul (psudy)      Join Date: Dec 2003       06-10-2011, 8:06 AM Reply   
" within it's specified capacity as to make it vulnerable to sinking"

But it was over capacity. Whos to say this would have happened if he had the amount of weight in it that it was designed to carry.
Old    Justin Harrelson (skiboarder)      Join Date: Oct 2006       06-10-2011, 8:44 AM Reply   
If I ever built my own wakeboards the warning on the board would read:

WARNING: Wakeboarding is dangerous. Over a long enough time-scale, you will be injured, maimed or killed.

If you are not fully ready to accept this reality, I wouldn't want you using my product.
Old    John Anderson (fly135)      Join Date: Jun 2004       06-10-2011, 9:23 AM Reply   
We should all put signs by the street that say...

"This is my house and I don't care if you come here. If you trip on a crack in the driveway, a nut dropped by a squirrel on the sidewalk, or some water spilt on the tile, it's your own damn fault for being too stupid to walk. Knock on my door at your own risk and carry your own f**king insurance".

People are stupid. I have a lift holding my boat. Every time I operate it I have to tell people not to stand behind the cables. Because if they snap they might take your head off. Worse still after I tell them and they move, half the time a few seconds later they move back and stand behind the cable again. Now I expect that from my dog but not an adult.
Old    paul. (imx)      Join Date: Jul 2009       06-10-2011, 6:35 PM Reply   
Quote:
Originally Posted by psudy View Post
" within it's specified capacity as to make it vulnerable to sinking"

But it was over capacity. Whos to say this would have happened if he had the amount of weight in it that it was designed to carry.
As I said in my first post, this is an argument that could be made, and let me be clear here, It is not my personal opinion, just a view that I would explore if I was looking to get the best outcome for a client.
If the vessel has a capacity of 15, and there were 15 people on the boat who, for whatever reason, decided to try and get as many in the bow as possible, the question then has to be asked: Is the craft still safe? If not, you now extend the argument to say: 'The boat had 20 people in it, 5 over capacity, but still had the same amount of extra people in the bow that would cause it to become unsafe whether or not the capacity was exceeded. You would then investigate as to whether the accident was caused by purely having 5 extra people onboard, or the fact that the bow area was overloaded which would still be the case or possibly even more so without extra weight in the centre /rear half of the boat of 5 more people. So while the skipper should be held accountable to some degree, so should the manufacturer.
Old    np3 (ponder86)      Join Date: Mar 2008       06-14-2011, 4:36 PM Reply   
By law, the driver/owner is legally responsible for the safety of all the passengers on board.
Old    Kat Laird (wakekat15)      Join Date: Jul 2005       06-18-2011, 7:14 PM Reply   
Letter to the editor on the subject....

http://www.chicoer.com/opinion/ci_18305537
Old    Ty (wakeandsnow27)      Join Date: Jun 2004       06-21-2011, 8:38 AM Reply   
Quote:
Originally Posted by ottog1979 View Post
Dude (Ty), She's brain damaged and lost an eye. Would you trade those things for $30MM?

That said, I'm not on the tort lawyers side on this. I think the laws and legal system is crazy stupid in this area. But don't you think your statement about her giving it away is a little harsh?
I came off wrong.
Im compassionate for the girl, absolutely....but for the mother to say they feel "blessed" doesnt sit well with me....I couldn't feel blessed to have taken 30million from a manufacturer who designed something that was used INCORRECTLY....whether blame be on the passengers or the driver, the boat did it's job as designed to do it when it was sold and used.
Old    A-dub (behindtheboat)      Join Date: Aug 2006       06-21-2011, 9:39 AM Reply   
Does everyone realize they had a former MC designer/engineer testify that the boat was never tested (I did not until now)? Not that I agree, but they didn't have any data or test results showing they did one bit of testing, and this former MC employee even said they didn't test for the capacity rating (how can that even happen with the USCG?). I still don't agree with this, but knowing that in nearly any industry you need to test your product, first to test it, and second to be able to show that you tested it when a situation like this arises, this just sounds like bad business/product development decisions.
Old    John Anderson (fly135)      Join Date: Jun 2004       06-21-2011, 9:54 AM Reply   
Quote:
Originally Posted by behindtheboat View Post
Not that I agree, but they didn't have any data or test results showing they did one bit of testing, and this former MC employee even said they didn't test for the capacity rating (how can that even happen with the USCG?). I still don't agree with this, but knowing that in nearly any industry you need to test your product, first to test it, and second to be able to show that you tested it when a situation like this arises, this just sounds like bad business/product development decisions.
If the incident occurred when the boat was loaded to capacity rating then this would be relevant.
Old    A-dub (behindtheboat)      Join Date: Aug 2006       06-21-2011, 10:40 AM Reply   
Quote:
Originally Posted by fly135 View Post
If the incident occurred when the boat was loaded to capacity rating then this would be relevant.
How do you know it wasn't 19, 90lb females, which would not add up to the stated weight capacity and actually be below?

Again, I'm not in agreement with the verdict, but we can all shoot holes in each others' arguments. It's pretty obvious if MC would have done a little bit more homework and product testing,specifically on the capacity requirements, they would have had a better chance in this case.
Old    Jeremy (wake77)      Join Date: Jan 2009       06-21-2011, 10:54 AM Reply   
"How do you know it wasn't 19, 90lb females, which would not add up to the stated weight capacity and actually be below?"

I don't think you have a valid argument, if I am not mistaken. If the capacity is, for example, 12 persons or 2000 lbs, then it would be a violation if you had forty 50 lb people on board. 12 people would be the max even if under the weight.
Old    A-dub (behindtheboat)      Join Date: Aug 2006       06-21-2011, 11:03 AM Reply   
Quote:
Originally Posted by wake77 View Post
"How do you know it wasn't 19, 90lb females, which would not add up to the stated weight capacity and actually be below?"

I don't think you have a valid argument, if I am not mistaken. If the capacity is, for example, 12 persons or 2000 lbs, then it would be a violation if you had forty 50 lb people on board. 12 people would be the max even if under the weight.
You're likely right.

How does MC know that the capacity rating is 18? Or rephrased, how does MC show in a court of law that the boat's rating is 18? I'm pretty sure the answer would be by providing testing results.

I'm not defending the verdict, but I'm not going to defend MC for practicing stupid business, if the reports of NO testing are accurate.
Old    Cory D (cadunkle)      Join Date: Jul 2009       06-21-2011, 4:19 PM Reply   
Mastercraft has been building boats for a very long time. They likely set capacity with some informal testing to see how many people can be seated safely and a conservative amount of weight, precisely to avoid these types of problems. Rather than test to the point of failure they set a conservative limit that they know is safe, won't have the boat sitting real low or unstable in the water. This, in my opinion, is plenty good enough.

Anyone driving a boat should know to keep the weight evenly distributed. It's a basic principle of safe boating, covered in many (most?) boating classes, boating books, and state safety pamphlets. All of this is irrelevant since the boat was way over capacity, and even if we ignore the capacity, as I'm sure many folks here have run more weight than their capacity plate states without incident, the logistics of getting 12 people into the bow must be ridiculous and scream "bad idea".

With 19 on the boat, that's 63% of the people in the bow. We don't know the percentage of the weight distribution, but this is just freakin' absurd. How long of a sequence of stupid, careless, reckless events disregarding the life and safety of 19 people on your overloaded sacked out boat do you have to make before you as owner/driver are liable and not the manufacturer, whose recommendations were ignored!
Old    WakeViolater (wakeviolater)      Join Date: Sep 2004       06-23-2011, 3:50 PM Reply   
Quote:
Originally Posted by behindtheboat View Post
Does everyone realize they had a former MC designer/engineer testify that the boat was never tested (I did not until now)? Not that I agree, but they didn't have any data or test results showing they did one bit of testing, and this former MC employee even said they didn't test for the capacity rating (how can that even happen with the USCG?). I still don't agree with this, but knowing that in nearly any industry you need to test your product, first to test it, and second to be able to show that you tested it when a situation like this arises, this just sounds like bad business/product development decisions.
i believe that the USCG ratings are based only on size of the boat (internal volume) and pumping rates of the bilge system. These are also only RECCOMENDATIONS.

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