Run Over Haulover Snorkeler Brings Maritime Tort and Lien Against 43' Midnight Express Named The Golden Rule
The Florida Admiralty and Maritime Board Certified attorneys of Brais, Brais & Rusak filed a verified complaint in rem against a 43' Midnight Express go-fast boat for allegedly running over Marc Craddock while snorkeling more than 1 mile off Haulover Inlet. The all gold colored speed boat, aptly named The Golden Rule, equipped with five outboard engines is technically owed by FLC Marine LLC., a Florida limited liability company, whose managers are Adam Gordon and his father Michael Gordon.
Court documents state The Golden Rule was returning from the Bahamas on October 17th when it ran over Mr. Craddock causing life-threatening injuries. Mr. Craddock was airlifted to Ryder Trauma Center in Miami and underwent multiple emergency surgeries before being transferred to an Orlando hospital.
The Federal lawsuit asserts a maritime in rem lien claim against the estimated $750,000 The Golden Rule for the tortious conduct of its operator.
A key distinction between maritime and land based law is that a person injured by a watercraft in certain situations may bring a legal action directly against the vessel, have a Federal Court issue a warrant of arrest and have the vessel arrested by the United States Marshal Service. An injured person possesses such a maritime lien right against any nongovernmental vessel no matter if it is a commercial cargo ship or recreational boat. A maritime lien arises whenever a ship, by collision or a related act, causes damages to others through the fault of the owner or legal operator. The Supreme Court in its The John G. Stevens decision explained the reasoning behind this type of maritime lien was to allow the injured party to recover against the vessel because the watercraft "is considered herself the wrongdoer, liable for the tort, and subject to a maritime lien for damages."
Maritime liens arise at the time of the injury without need to register the lien with a governmental agency as is typical with land based liens. Additionally, the lien carries with the vessel from owner to owner and can only be extinguished by a Marshal sale. Accordingly, while the ownership of The Golden Rule may change, Mr. Craddock's maritime lien against the 43' Midnight Express will continue even if the speed boat is sold to an innocent third party purchaser.