AUSTIN, Texas — A federal jury Monday found Brunswick Corp. partially liable for a 2005 incident in which a teen’s leg was severed by a propeller, according to a report in the Austin American-Statesman. Jurors ordered the company to pay $3.8 million in medical expenses and damages.
After deliberating for about seven hours, jurors found that Brunswick shared more than half of the blame for the accident. Jurors also found the teen responsible as well as the driver of the boat, the report said.
Brunswick officials said in a statement Monday that while they remain sympathetic to the plaintiff, they are “nevertheless disappointed with today’s verdict.” The company said it will evaluate its options going forward, including a possible appeal.
“Brunswick Corporation and Mercury Marine stand behind our products, which are used safely and properly by boaters around the world,” the company stated.
Jacob Brochtrup, who was 18 at the time of the accident, sued Sea Ray Boats Inc. and Mercury Marine for liability in 2007. The accident occurred when he had been celebrating the July Fourth weekend wakeboarding with three friends.
“Brochtrup had just finished his turn on the wakeboard when a tow rope popped off the back of the white Sea Ray ski boat,” the paper reports. “Brochtrup jumped out of the boat to grab the line. Unaware that Brochtrup was in the water behind him, 18-year-old driver Patrick Houston put his family’s boat in reverse.”
According to the suit, the manufacturer of the boat and motor did not have safety devices, including guards or covers. Brochtrup’s attorney said this marks the first successful case against the boating industry by a person injured by a motor. Boat makers recently prevailed in two similar suits nationally that involved older-model boats. And jurors in two previous trials of Brochtrup’s case deadlocked, resulting in mistrials.
For the complete details from the American-Statesman, click here.