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Articles Posted in Marina Liabilities


Our lawyers are often contacted by maritime workers who were injured on the job who wish to know what legal rights they have and what type of recovery they may be entitled. The first question that must be addressed is whether or not the maritime worker is a seaman entitled to recovery under the federal Jones Act or a non-seaman entitled to recovery under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. Court opinions from time to time provide guidance as to the facts necessary to make this decision.

Facts of the Case

A tug boat struck two crane barges which were spudded down or anchored at a dock facility. The two barges were engaged in constructing a dock at the time of the incident. A worker on one of the crane barges was injured. From this incident, the injured worker brought a claim against the owner of the offending tugboat as well as the company overseeing the dock building seeking various damages, including loss of earnings and earning capacity, pain, suffering, mental anguish and emotional trauma. A motion for summary judgment was filed seeking to deem the maritime worker as a seaman who was entitled to the protections of the Jones Act. The company overseeing the dock work opposed the motion.

Nassau-River-Drowning.jpgIt is being reported from Fernandina Beach, Florida that a boater has drowned near the Goffinsville Park and Ramp in the Nassau River while launching an aluminum fishing boat. The man, identified as 55-year-old, Anthony Rankin, from Yulee, Florida. Lt. Tony Wright of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission stated that Mr. Rankin and another man were launching a fishing boat near 9 a.m. Thursday morning. The victim stayed in the boat while the other man parked the motor vehicle and trailer. A witness on the scene reported that Mr. Rankin “gave too much throttle” causing him to go overboard. Mr. Rankin attempted to hold onto the circling boat while in the water before letting go and attempting to swim to shore. While swimming to shore it is reported that Mr. Rankin “struggled and went under the water.” Bystanders pulled Mr. Rankin from the water and preformed CPR until medics arrived. He was taken to Baptist Medical Center Nassau where he died.

Photo Credit: News Leader

Personal-Watercraft-Liablity.jpgWe often write about personal watercraft rental and tour companies liability. Unlike most other rental businesses, the Florida legislator and Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission have imposed certain regulations requiring these companies to provide specific instruction to their customers before allowing them on the water. Penalties for violating such statutes including a finding that any pre-injury release and wavier of liability signed by the renter to be null and void and a finding that the rental company is presumably at fault for the accident. Recently, a Federal Court was asked to rule as a matter of law whether a personal watercraft rental and tour company’s alleged statutory violations rendered its pre-injury release and waiver of liability unenforceable and whether the company was to be presumed at fault for the accident resulting in two of its customers to be air-lifted to the hospital.

The Accident

A mother and daughter paid for a Yamaha WaveRunner tour around Key West conducted by Sunset Waverunner Tours, Inc. Shortly after leaving the starting point, the daughter, with her mother in the passenger seat, drove the WaveRunner into a mangrove forest. The two suffered significant personal njuries and were medevaced to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami.
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Floirda Boat Lawyers.jpgBrais & Brais’ Florida maritime attorneys successfully argued that a Federal Court can hear a breach of the warranty of workmanlike performance implied in an oral repair contract as well as a breach of marine bailment dispute concerning the sinking of a recreational boat that was entrusted to an engine repairer.

The Facts

In December 2009, a recreational vessel owner entered into an oral contract with an engine repairer to fix the starboard engine of a 33′ Chris-Craft sportfish named CJ. At the time of the contract, the vessel was connected to shore power at its home berth in the Worldwide Sportsman Marina located in Tavernier, Florida. The repairs began at Worldwide Sportsman Marina, but soon thereafter, the engine repairer requested the vessel be moved to a berth behind his house for his convenience. The owner consented to the vessel being moved, however, the repairer did not move the vessel behind his house as represented. Instead, he moved the vessel to his neighbor’s house and failed to relay this information to the owner. When the repairer shifted the vessel, he failed to reconnect the shore power or monitor the vessel. During the repair project, the vessel began taking on water from the drive shaft’s packing gland. The onboard bilge pumps kept up with the intruding water until the battery life expired. The vessel sunk at its moorings causing damage to its hull, machinery, appurtenances and the owner’s personal property. Had the repairer reconnected the shore power or monitored the vessel, the CJ could have been saved.

Marina Damage.jpgIt is a common after a hurricane to see boats strewn across docks as well as marina pilings and bulkheads severally damaged. In an effort to protect against hurricane damage, many marina storage agreements contain a clause requiring boat owners to move their vessels out of the marina when a hurricane is approaching. This clause also holds the boat owners responsible for any damage caused by their vessels to the marina should the owners not move their water crafts. Should your marina try to hold you responsible for damage resulting from not removing your boat prior to a hurricane, the law is on your side.

Florida law states:

Marinas may not adopt, maintain, or enforce policies pertaining to evacuation of vessels which require vessels to be removed from marinas following the issuance of a hurricane watch or warning, in order to ensure that protecting the lives and safety of vessel owners is placed before interests of protecting property.

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