Trial begins in Fla. propeller accident case

COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. — A Florida propeller-accident case from 1999 finally made it to trial this week, and attorneys in the case argued into the evening Monday after the defense lost a motion to have the case dismissed, according to a report in the Naples Daily News.

The lawsuit against Boston Whaler, a division of Brunswick Corp., and Bombardier Corp., formerly known as Outboard Marine Corp., the manufacturer of Johnson motors, was brought by a woman who was permanently scarred after falling overboard during a sunset cruise 10 years ago.

Prosecutors argue the defendants failed to provide a propeller guard, provided an unreasonably dangerous design and failed to provide an owner’s manual with adequate warnings or information about aftermarket products such as propeller guards, according to reports by the Daily News.

Hearings in the 2002 lawsuit have gotten contentious leading up to trial, the Daily News reports — despite warnings from the presiding judges. Much of the day Monday, attorneys argued more than 56 motions, the paper reports.

A Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission investigation cited Fred Decker, the injured woman’s husband, for careless operation, listing alcohol as a factor, but charges were never filed.

However, citing a 2001 Florida Supreme Court case, Collier Circuit Judge Daniel Monaco in January 2006 ruled Decker is a crash-worthiness case, and he barred defense attorneys from presenting evidence that alcohol contributed to the accident.

Jury selection begins today and testimony could begin Wednesday.

To read the full Naples Daily News report, click here.

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