Park Service sues Florida boat dealer

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. – The National Park Service filed a federal lawsuit against Marlow Marine Sales in Palmetto, Fla., this month for an incident that occurred in 2006 when a 72-foot yacht from the dealership, bound for the Miami Boat Show, ran aground and allegedly damaged an environmentally sensitive area, the Sarasota Herald Tribune reported in a story yesterday.

The "Rebel Yell" strayed from a deep channel in Everglades National Park and ran aground on Arsenic Bank. After several days of trying to float it off the sandbar, crew members powered the yacht over it, plowing a channel through the shoal and tearing up sea grass in the sensitive preservation area and causing at least $240,000 in damage, according to the story.

The owner of the yacht, boat dealer David Marlow, is contesting the $240,000 in damages. In court paperwork, he argues that the yacht's crew was acting with care when it ran aground, and navigational aids in the waterway were deficient and negligently maintained, the newspaper reported.

The lawsuit is the second filed in Florida's federal courts in the past year seeking hefty damages against boat owners accused of tearing up sea grass. In the other case, the government is seeking $600,000 in damages from a boat owner who ran aground near Key West in 2003, according to the story.

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