Case Law Alerts
Complaint seeking exoneration from or limitation of liability denied where petitioner was on board a recreational vessel and personally participated in negligent act of overloading said vessel.
On November 6, 2015, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York denied the petitioner’s complaint seeking exoneration from or limitation of liability for the July 4, 2012, capsizing of his recreational vessel, the Kandi Won, which resulted in the drowning of three young children. The court, after employing the two-step analysis in maritime limitation of liability actions pursuant to the Shipowner’s Limitation of Liability Act, granted the dismissal motions of the claimants, Gaines and Silverton. Under the first step, the court found that the claimants met their burden of proving, by a preponderance of evidence, that the petitioner was negligent, namely, that the petitioner’s actions in allowing his vessel to become overloaded with 27 guests constituted a substantial factor contributing to the capsizing. Under the second step, after a finding of negligence on the part of the petitioner—which shifts the burden to the petitioner to prove a “lack of privity or knowledge”—the court held that the petitioner failed to satisfy his burden in view of the fact that he was on board the vessel at the time of the incident and personally participated in the negligent act of overloading the vessel by inviting or allowing the 27 guests to board the vessel. Importantly, the court limited its findings based upon the petitioner’s actions and inaction and did not render any adverse findings against Silverton, the vessel manufacturer, whom we represented in this proceeding.
Case Law Alerts, 1st Quarter, January 2016
Case Law Alerts is prepared by Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin to provide information on recent legal developments of interest to our readers. This publication is not intended to provide legal advice for a specific situation or to create an attorney-client relationship. Copyright © 2016 Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, all rights reserved. This article may not be reprinted without the express written permission of our firm.