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Lawsuit, NOT coffee this time!!!

Old 12-15-2002, 08:38 PM
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Default Lawsuit, NOT coffee this time!!!

Pulled this off another site... Talk about a typical case that should never be given the time of day!

High court paves way for more boat lawsuits
Justices rule for Illinois man who lost wife in boating accident.

Chicago Tribune
WASHINGTON - Paving the way for lawsuits by people injured in boating accidents, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously yesterday that an Illinois man could pursue his claims against the boat manufacturer he alleges caused his wife's death.

The decision revives a wrongful-death lawsuit by Downers Grove, Ill., resident Rex Sprietsma, who was seeking to hold boatmaker Mercury Marine accountable for the fatal injuries his wife suffered in a boating accident during a family vacation.

Sprietsma contended that Mercury Marine's boat engine was unreasonably dangerous because it was not protected by a propeller guard, a safety device he argued could have prevented his wife's death. The Illinois Supreme Court dismissed his claims, holding that the Federal Boat Safety Act overrode such state court lawsuits.

In an opinion by Justice John Paul Stevens, the high court said Sprietsma was entitled to his day in court. They rejected arguments that federal law pre-empted such wrongful death lawsuits in state courts, ruling that those suits instead can "serve the act's more prominent objective, emphasized by its title, of promoting boat safety."

"This decision will have a broad impact on a wide array of recreational boating cases," said Leslie Brueckner, Sprietsma's lawyer and a staff attorney at Trial Lawyers for Public Justice, a national public interest law firm.

"It also resoundingly affirms that the state tort systems are vitally important ways of compensating injury victims."

Sprietsma, a marketing consultant in Naperville, Ill., said Tuesday he was "elated" by the court's ruling, which he said would "open the way for others, anybody that's been a victim or survivor of tragedy involving a boat or propeller strike."

"This is an important case, because now any others can go ahead and have recourse," he said.

"I know she helped people all her life," Sprietsma said of his wife, a longtime court reporter who had been promoted to a supervisor of court reporters in Cook County before her death.

"This is one of those things where at least she'll be helping people in the future, as well. That's why I carried this on as far as I did."

Jeanne Sprietsma was killed on the first day of the family's vacation in Tennessee in 1995, when she fell overboard while in a ski boat and was struck by the boat's propeller. She was 41.

Her husband and then 9-year-old son were in another boat nearby and watched as she was rushed to a local hospital. She then was airlifted to a hospital in Nashville, where she died.

Sprietsma sought to hold Mercury Marine responsible, arguing in a lawsuit that it should have used a propeller guard.

Mercury Marine, a division of Brunswick Corp., sought to have the complaint dismissed, contending that the 1971 federal boating law pre-empted such claims.

Lower courts sided with the company. The Illinois Supreme Court said Mercury Marine could not be held liable because the Coast Guard, in issuing design and safety standards, had decided not to require the use of propeller guards.

To allow such lawsuits, the state court said, would frustrate federal purposes. But the justices rejected that reasoning, holding that a federal agency's decision not to regulate did not preclude lawsuits by victims and their families.

A contrary decision, which would shield the companies from liability, would be contrary to the very purposes of federal boating safety laws, the court said.

Sprietsma's case will now go forward in Illinois state court.

(Published: December 4, 2002)

Don't get me wrong, I feel bad his wife lost her life but come'on....
From now on I'm not responsible for any of my own actions
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Old 12-15-2002, 09:46 PM
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Kanookstr - I need you r address, while reading your post I suffered severe eye trauma and now i'm gonna sue !!! WTF is this world coming to? Wardey
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